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  1. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 10

    Summer Reading Activities :

    It is so important to keep our children’s brains engaged over the summer months, so they don’t lose their place in academics. Studies have shown that children fall three months behind in the learning progress they’ve made when they don’t do anything in the summer to keep up. Staying academically active in the summer doesn’t have to be dry and boring, though. There are many creative ways to keep the wheels in your child’s brains rolling!

    Have a themed dinner night for family and friends. Pick a theme, like maybe the 1950s or even carnivals, and have everyone dress up according to your theme. Find coordinating foods for your theme to serve to everyone. And most importantly, have lots of books on hand about your theme. After dinner, everyone can take turns reading all of the books together.

    A great way to bring new life to old books is to have a book swap party. Invite some friends to gather up old books they no longer want and bring them over. As everyone comes in, take their books and set them all up on a table so they are easy to browse. Have your guests gather and mingle in the living room, but, set the books up in the dining room. Once everyone has arrived, file into the dining room so that everyone can choose some new books to take home.

    Children can get together with a small group of friends and write a storybook. They can do so in a round robin way, where each child writes some and then passes it to the next for their turn. Or they can collaborate as they go along. When they are finished writing the story, they can work on some illustrations. They might even have fun finding pictures in magazines to use for the illustrations. They can put it all together with some cardboard pieces for the book cover. They will probably need your help with that part, as it will be hard to cut. When it is all done, they can take turns keeping the book each weekend to show grandparents and whoever else they would like to show it off to.

    And of course, don’t forget your public library’s summer reading program. It is a great initiative to keep your kids interested in books. They can choose their own books to read for the programs and that is a big deal. It is not only fun for the child, but, it really helps to keep their desire to read going strong. The child who is always told exactly what to read sees it as nothing more than a chore. The library’s programs usually all have prizes for certain numbers of books read – and then main prizes at the end of the program. And a lot of the programs have a kick-off party and a party for when it’s over, too.

    So many kids fall behind, just from the gaps that happen over the accumulated summers. It can be really hard to catch up when school starts back up in the fall and by the time the child reaches middle school, they may be several grades behind in reading alone. We don’t have to make kids’ summers all work and no play, but, keeping their brains in operation is imperative for them to keep up in school.

  2. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 9

    Comic Books Will Help Pull Reluctant Readers Into The World Of Books :

    Comic books can be used to motivate young children to read for a number of reasons. They are short, while still containing a complete and compelling story; they have detailed pictures on every page, which will keep young readers interested; and they have a distinctly “fun” style, with the superhuman characters.

    The average comic book is around thirty pages, and for a younger reader who isn’t so keen on reading, a thirty page story is much more manageable. While these stories are only thirty pages per book, they are released in monthly issues. These monthly issues are very easy to follow, with such short issues, while still telling a full story. These stories can be followed for many years, most of the reader’s life even. For example, the X-Men comic Uncanny X-Men has run since 1963, and is currently on its 532 issue. The reader doesn’t have to follow a single story, as even five or six issues would be easy to read over the course of an entire month.

    A defining aspect of comic books is the dual mediums that are used to tell the story, the pictures and the words. Comic books have a unique style to their illustrations that is very attractive to readers of any age, but would be especially eye-catching to a young reader. The presence of pictures on every page would also prevent young readers from getting lost in the wall of text, by separating the words into paragraphs of exposition and individual lines of dialogue.

    The characters of most comic books are superhuman beings, usually superheroes saving the world from supervillians, monsters, and sometimes even aliens. The superheroes are ordinary people most of the time, with real concerns and problems that are easily connected to, as well as the responsibilities of their superhuman positions. There are even comic books that focus on teenage characters, such as New X-Men: Academy X, Young Avengers, and Teen Titans. These comics also have the characters go through teenage problems, such as growing up and fitting in, as well as the superhero problems.

    The stories still maintain a mature feel with the comic book feel, which means a parent could enjoy following a story alongside their child. If a parent already reads comic books, they could introduce them to their child, and read through their collection with them. Comic books can also be a very social hobby, with a close-knit and friendly following who frequent hobby shops.

    All in all, comic books can be a very entertaining way to encourage young children to start reading and to enjoy what they read. They are short and manageable, have cool pictures, have a distinct and fun style, and star characters that children can easily identify and empathize with. They also connect to other mediums, and encourage young readers to continue reading and to read more often.

  3. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 8

    Why Should I Read To My Infant? :

    Many people begin reading books to their children from the time they are brand new babies. Why do they do this and should you do the same? Many experts agree that this is actually a good practice to get into. It might seem strange to read a book to a three month old baby, but, it is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your baby.

    One main thing that it does is allow you precious time when you are speaking directly to your baby. Babies that are spoken to a lot score higher on standard tests when they are three years old than infants that were not spoken to often. So reading to your baby is just another way to add variety to the time you spend talking to your them and adding to their growing vocabulary.

    When your baby hears you read, he hears what a narrative sounds like. He hears the different tones and inflections in your voice and his rapidly-growing brain starts to wrap around the idea of what a story sounds like. He might not consciously understand that, but, the brain grows faster at this time in our lives than at any other. Helping all of those networks connect is one of the best things we can do for our babies.

    More than anything, though, your baby will begin to associate books/reading with happy, cozy times spent with you cuddling. As we humans are pleasure-seekers, this is an awesome foundation to lay for your child in the world of reading. The more and more we can help our kids to equate reading with pleasant, happy times, the better!

    The interesting thing is that when our babies are very young, the words of the book don’t actually matter. They hear the different sounds of our voice and the different emotions and that is what is important. What this means is that we can basically read anything to them. We might even read the novel we’ve been enjoying to them, as long as we use lots of emotion and maybe even different voices for the different characters. It can be quite comical, but, it will all be teaching our baby vocabulary and helping their imaginations develop.

    They will, of course, be drawn to bright colors and stark contrasts that a lot of infant books have. They will enjoy looking at that brightness and sharpness. And as your baby gets older, they will become more and more interested in the books themselves. They will even soon start grabbing for them and even sucking and chewing on them. So board books and cloth books are definitely in order.

    About this same time, your child will really start to connect the books to special time with you. They will understand that when they see you get the book out, it is time for a great cuddle on your lap and lots of lovely social interaction with you.

    Reading to your baby, if nothing else, is a wonderful peaceful time to spend together. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised by the long term results.

  4. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 7

    Capitalize On Toddler Obsessions To Get Them Excited About Books :

    It is so common for toddlers to become obsessed with things that almost every parent you talk to has countless stories to tell you about their child’s obsessions and the funny stories that came about because of them.

    Stopping at every construction site you see to sit for a while and watch.
    Grandpa calling to tell you every time there’s new construction by his house, telling you to pack up the kids to come watch.
    Renting a really interesting new construction movie, only to watch it, literally, three times in a row.

    We all get the picture and we have all been there, in one way or another. Whether it’s construction or trains or Princess Barbie, the drill is the same. Those sweet, little munchkins live it and breathe it until we think we just can’t stand to watch any more fireman movies for the rest of our lives.

    There is a really productive thing that we can do with all of this toddler obsession, though. We can use it as an opportunity to turn out little ones into bookworms! When little Jimmy wants nothing but more trains, trains, trains – give him just that. Take him to the library and show him just how many books about trains there are.

    This would be a great opportunity to get your child their own library card and let them begin to check out a few books at a time. Let your child know that they can go back and check out more books when they finish the ones they have. They will begin to understand the concept of libraries and that they work on a borrow system and that the books are not theirs to keep.

    As a special surprise, you can bring home a book about trains (or cars, trucks, princesses….) from the bookstore that is their very own to keep. You can put it on their pillow so they find it when they go in their room and then you can explain to them that that one is their very own to keep.

    Toddlers don’t, of course, have the longest attention spans, so they might not want to read entire books. And that is just fine – let them decide how much of the book they’d like to hear. They might want to just look at it all by themselves.

    They might not express interest in the books at all. The best thing to do in that case, is just to leave the book where they can get to it and/or see it. (If it’s a paper book and they need supervision, you can leave it on a high shelf where it is still visible.) Leave it ‘lying around’ and let them discover it or re-discover it on their own. Forcing them to sit down and listen to it before they are ready will send the wrong message about books not exactly being pleasant. If it is where they can see it, and they see you reading from time to time, they will eventually come back around to it. After all, it is a book about trains!

  5. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 6

    Cozy Corner Is A Great Way To Encourage Reading In Your House :

    A wonderful way to encourage your children to read at home is to provide them with a really comfortable place to do so. Find a place in your home that you can dedicate to reading time only and make it super cozy and totally awesome in the eyes of your child. You can even make it almost fort-like and it will become a special place that everyone loves.

    You can call it ‘Cozy Corner’ or ‘Reading Corner’ or even better would be to let the children help to name it. That would make it even more personal to them and would help them feel more involved in the process of creating this snuggly place to enjoy books.

    Now that you have found a place, you need to work on getting it wonderfully cozy. Working from the floor up, two inexpensive napping mats laid side by side would make a nice foundation layer. On top of the mats, a few blankets that are really soft would be great. And next, a pile of pillows will help ensure that your readers can get comfortable in just their own way. Some may want to lie all the way down and some may want to prop themselves up on some stacked, squished-up pillows.

    A quick, easy way to add a table for your books is to get a milk crate from the dollar store and turn it upside down in the corner. If you decide to let the children take snacks and drinks with them in the corner and you need the table to put them on, you can use a large, hardcover book on top of the milk crate for a nice, hard surface.

    Depending on the lighting in the room you choose, you might need to add some light to your cozy corner. Some type of light that hangs from the wall or the ceiling would be best, so there is no worry of the children knocking it over. You will want to steer away from the harsh, bright bulbs and select soft, reader-friendly bulbs.

    Decorating for your cozy corner might just get you and your kids busy with some arts and crafts time. You can make a sign for your reading haven, perhaps even calling it by your family name. For instance, you might call it “Smith Cozy Corner”. Again, you can get the kids involved in the naming process and you might just get creative with alliteration or even rhyming. Alliteration would be quick and easy if your last name starts with ‘C’, you could call it “Caldwell Cozy Corner” if your name is Caldwell. This will be fun to brainstorm with the kids. Other things you could make to decorate your reading corner are pictures of books, bookworms, or even airplanes if your son loves airplanes.

    Another thing you can do to make each child’s time in cozy corner really special is to have them reserve their time there. You can set it up so it is similar to checking out books in the library. A schedule on the wall at the entrance would let everyone know when their appointed time is. This could be a laminated chart, so that you can use dry erase markers to use it over and over. Having your own alloted time in cozy corner makes it even more special.

  6. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 5

    Phonics Activities To Help Your Emerging Reader :

    An important part of teaching children to read is phonics instruction. Teaching phonics is teaching children about the blending of letters to make certain sounds and also introducing them to the relationship between printed letters and spoken words. So we are not just dealing with multiple letter blends, but, also, understanding that the letter ‘d’ in the word dog makes the “d” sound.

    There are a lot of activities that you can do with children to get them started on understanding how these sounds and these printed letters and words work together. As children are learning the relationship between letters and sounds, these fun activities will allow them to practice what they are learning.

    Make a trail of alphabet footprints so you and the children can sing the alphabet song as you walk along the ABC path. Use some sturdy paper, like cardstock, and cut out 26 footprints and write one letter of the alphabet on each one. Secure them on the floor with packing tape in order, but, in a gently curving path. Step on the letters one at a time, in order, and sing each letter as you step on it. Now let the child try it and sing along with him as he walks the path.

    For this activity, you will need two teams of kids. You are going to give each team a word and each team will have to come up with words that rhyme with their word. So let’s say you give the first team the word ‘let’ and the second team the word ‘sat’. They send each of their players up to the board to write a word that rhymes with their word. When every player has had a turn, the team with the most correct words wins.

    A game that doesn’t require any materials and that is easy to play on the go is phonics I-spy. The player who is it will spy something and tell the other person or people that they see something that starts with a certain letter. Perhaps he sees a tree, he would say that he sees “something that starts with a ‘tttttt’”. And the other players have to guess what it is that he has spied. The one who figures it out then gets to spy something and make the others guess.

    Understanding how letters and the sounds they make are the building blocks for the words that we speak is an important part of learning to read. When children learn phonics, they learn that the words we speak are made up of letters and that each letter has its own sound. And they also learn about groups of letters that are blended together to make sounds. When they begin to become familiar with all of these sounds, they can not only recognize familiar words, but, they also have clues to work out new words on their own.

  7. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 4

    Fun Reading Activities To Encourage Your Child’s Love Of Books :

    There are so many fun activities that we can do with our children to get them excited about books and the world of reading. When kids are having fun, it is so much easier to draw them into something – like the wonderful world of literature. The very best thing we can do is to guide and direct them to enjoy it for themselves. When we are intrinsically motivated to do something, it is a much more lasting motivation. This will form an awesome foundation for their whole school careers.

    A fun way to really dig into a story is to read it with your child and when you are done, ask your child their favorite part of the story. Then have them draw a picture of that part. When they are done, ask them for a short explanation of their picture and that part in the story. And either have them dictate to you and you write it on the bottom of their picture or let them write it if they can.

    Another fun way to really engage your child in the books you are reading with them is to play a guessing game. Each time you turn the page of the book, look at the pictures with your child and have them guess what they think might be going on at this point in the story. It can be exciting to see if they got it right, because, sometimes they might get it so wrong that it turns the book into a super silly story. And what is more fun than the giggles?

    An activity that will help with reading and make your little one feel a bit more grown up is helping you cook from a cookbook. You can explain to your child that it is important to put the ingredients in and follow the instructions in the recipe in order. Then you let your child be in charge of reading the recipe to you as you make the dish. You will, of course, give them any help they need. But they can also read the labels on the ingredients that you are using. For instance, they can help you differentiate between baking powder and baking soda and make sure you get the right one. Perhaps you might even let them fix your ‘mistake’ when you pick up the wrong one. He will feel so smart and helpful.

    When you can get a child excited about things – making pictures, funny games that maybe lead to silly stories, helping in the kitchen and feeling like a big kid – you help to raise their confidence and also their motivation to really enjoy books and reading. Getting creative and changing things up can inspire children to get reading!

  8. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 3

    Reading Out Loud To Your Child Is Beneficial In Many Ways :

    Reading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their development as readers and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school, or just don’t do as well in school.

    Reading out loud to children can expand their vocabularies, foster more vivid imaginations, and help them learn pronunciation skills. Some sentences or sections of books or even whole books may get skipped over if a child is only reading to himself. When the text is beyond the child’s level of literacy, they are much more likely to choose something else to read. So therefore, when children are read aloud to, they are being exposed to literature that they normally would pass over.

    It can be good for kids to hear books that are above their own reading levels. They are exposed to sentence structure, words, and concepts that they would not normally encounter on their own. Their brains are being fed and nurtured and they do not even realize it. They are just enjoying the experience of having someone read to them.

    The experience of the read-aloud time can be a great bonding time between a mother and a child, an older sibling and a younger sibling, or a teacher and her students. They are coming together over a book they both enjoy and sharing a pleasant time together.

    When we turn reading into a pleasurable experience like this is so unbelievably good for children, in terms of motivating them to read and to love and enjoy books. So often books turn into ‘just a part of school’ for children, they turn into ‘work’, and many children get really turned off from books in that way. When reading is a chore, they simply do not want to do it. Doing all that we can, as their caregivers, to show them how wonderful an experience reading is will do tremendous good in keeping them excited about reading.

    At a certain point during children’s school years, parents and teachers stop reading out loud to kids. Often this happens when the child goes to middle school. Experts suggest that we continue to read to children of all ages. It is a wonderful bonding time we can spend with children and it is still very good for them, even if we – or they – feel they are too old for it. The biggest thing you will be doing is to keep them interested in reading for pleasure. Just like when they were first learning to read and there was that danger of their equating reading with work, the very same thing happens in the teen years. This is true for many teens. There are some who will still read for pleasure, but, they are rare.

    So if we read to them or have a family reading time and let everyone take turns reading, we help them continue to associate books with pleasure. And goodness knows that is needed, given some of the drab books we have all had to read in high school.

    We must guide our children to become lifelong readers and lifelong learners. And we can do that at home, with some fun family bonding time. And in so doing, we will also be strengthening our families.

  9. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 2

    Get Your Kids Reading By Labeling Your House :

    There is a fun and simple way to get your kids started recognizing some basic words. You can do it easily without even having to spend any money – you label all of the things in your house. The kids will enjoy getting involved in the ongoing process of labeling things, as well.

    You will need some small strips of paper (you might adjust the size according to the item you are labeling), a pair of scissors, a pen or marker, and some tape. You just go through the house room by room, looking for things to label. Say, for instance, we started in the kitchen. Some things in the kitchen we could label are: cabinet, microwave, refrigerator, drawer. Labels might not stick on the oven or the dishwasher when they heat up – and when the dishwasher blows out steam. There are lots and lots of opportunities in the kitchen for naming things, though. You could even keep a stack of paper on the counter and when you come back from the store once a week, you and your child can label cereal boxes, etc.

    Constant repetition of these basic words will help your child recognize them by sight and can also begin to help with letter recognition. This is a very basic step in the learning to read process and will not help with phonics skills. It is, however, a very important step and a fun way for your child to begin to ‘know’ words on his own.

    You and your child can get very creative with all of this labeling, too. As stated before, some of the strips of paper can be different sizes, according to the thing being labeled. The strips of paper can also be arranged on things differently. For example, you can put the word ‘window’ vertically on the middle bar that separates two windows. And on venetian blinds, you can tape the word ‘blinds’ to an individual blind so that it is easily read when the blind is closed in the downward position. Your child will think it is so funny, because, when you open the blind it will be harder to read. And if you close the blind in the upward position, you won’t be able to read it at all.

    This is a good way to use the things in your house like flashcards. Close the blinds up and quiz your child on the first letter of the word. And if they are advancing even more, you can ask them to spell the word. This could also be done with cabinet doors – open the door all the way so you cannot see the word.

    One room that is difficult to label is the bathroom. Remember when we talked about that steam coming out of the dishwasher? Well, the bathroom is full of steam from our hot showers, shaving, etc. The bathroom can be labeled, it’s definitely not impossible. Just keep in mind that you will be replacing those labels from time to time.

    The best thing about using labels all over the house is that your child will consider it ‘play’. He’ll love to help you cut the paper and hang the labels, making it more like a craft than an educational experience. All the while he’ll be learning an important foundation to a life of literacy – what a great combination!

  10. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 1

    Talk To Your Baby And Build Their Language And Literacy Competency :

    As crazy as it sounds, developing children’s literacy skills actually begins during pregnancy. When mothers talk to their babies while they’re still in the womb many researches believe that is actually the first step in language development. One thing for sure is that babies get used to the sound of their mother’s voice and perhaps when they are born, that familiarity lends itself to quicker recognition and a fast bond after birth.

    Of course when babies are born, it is very helpful to them for their parents to continue speaking. Babies will start to recognize sounds and get to know gestures and facial expressions. Babies learn so much from the sights and sounds around them and will begin, almost immediately, to try to imitate the sounds their parents make. This is all part of the process of babies figuring out how we, as humans, communicate with each other. They will start to recognize how we relay information to each other in narrative form and begin to learn how to do that themselves.

    We begin to see babies’ story-telling skills emerge in the toddler days when they launch into those long, animated baby monologues. When we listen intently to one of these stories that babies tell, it is almost like we can actually follow along, because, the child is so excited in relaying the details to us. It is very much like watching a foreign-language TV show. If you watch it long enough, you begin to follow the story, even if you don’t understand a word of it. That is the power of the narrative – and the baby has learned that skill from watching us and listening to us intently.

    Parents can use every opportunity throughout the day to talk to their baby about anything and everything. That is a great way to build up the babies’ early literacy foundation. When washing the dishes or making dinner or cleaning up, parents can explain the tasks they are doing to their baby. Babies will begin to hear familiar words if the parents are in the habit of doing this frequently.

    It is so tempting, when talking to babies and toddlers, to use baby talk. Experts suggest parents speak properly to their children, however, so the children can have the most possible exposure to the correct sound of words. For example, if a child has a ‘baby word’ for banana, and the parent constantly uses that ‘baby word’ back to the child, they are only reinforcing the incorrect pronunciation. 

    Even if a parent sometimes uses their babies’ pronunciations of words, the important point is that the child is being talked to frequently throughout their day. It is an essential building block of language, and therefore literacy, development.