Our High Tech Kids

chess is my game

Our High Tech Kids

Today I am writ­ing about hand­writ­ing, but it is just one more ingre­di­ent in this high tech world that has neg­a­tive impli­ca­tions for our chil­dren. Handwriting is even­tu­ally going to be a thing of the past. There are so many more high tech ways to com­mu­ni­cate and schools are begin­ning to focus on those alter­nate meth­ods.

As a stu­dent I have found that writ­ing notes helped me to remem­ber impor­tant details much bet­ter than if I had typed them. My own chil­dren found the same strat­egy to be true. Conversely, I can write more cre­atively when I type. I teach writ­ing to young chil­dren to facil­i­tate read­ing. It helps them to sin­gle out let­ter sounds and sight words in iso­la­tion and then apply it to text. Clearly, the act of writin,as well as typ­ing, has an impact and now we know more about why that is.

In a recent New York Times arti­cle it was said that:

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain bet­ter able to gen­er­ate ideas and retain infor­ma­tion. In other words, it’s not just what we write that mat­ters — but how.

When we write, a unique neural cir­cuit is auto­mat­i­cally acti­vated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psy­chol­o­gist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recog­ni­tion of the ges­ture in the writ­ten word, a sort of recog­ni­tion by men­tal sim­u­la­tion in your brain.

And it seems that this cir­cuit is con­tribut­ing in unique ways we didn’t real­ize,” he con­tin­ued. “Learning is made eas­ier.”

2012 study led by Karin James, a psy­chol­o­gist at Indiana University, lent sup­port to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were pre­sented with a let­ter or a shape on an index card and asked to repro­duce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dot­ted out­line, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a com­puter. They were then placed in a brain scan­ner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the ini­tial dupli­ca­tion process mat­tered a great deal. When chil­dren had drawn a let­ter free­hand, they exhib­ited increased activ­ity in three areas of the brain that are acti­vated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the infe­rior frontal gyrus and the pos­te­rior pari­etal cor­tex.

By con­trast, chil­dren who typed or traced the let­ter or shape showed no such effect. The acti­va­tion was sig­nif­i­cantly weaker.

Dr. James attrib­utes the dif­fer­ences to the messi­ness inher­ent in free-form hand­writ­ing: Not only must we first plan and exe­cute the action in a way that is not required when we have a trace­able out­line, but we are also likely to pro­duce a result that is highly vari­able.

In a study that fol­lowed chil­dren in grades two through five,Virginia Berninger, a psy­chol­o­gist at the University of Washington, demon­strated that print­ing, cur­sive writ­ing, and typ­ing on a key­board are all asso­ci­ated with dis­tinct and sep­a­rate brain pat­terns — and each results in a dis­tinct end prod­uct. When the chil­dren com­posed text by hand, they not only con­sis­tently pro­duced more words more quickly than they did on a key­board, but expressed more ideas. And brain imag­ing in the old­est sub­jects sug­gested that the con­nec­tion between writ­ing and idea gen­er­a­tion went even fur­ther. When these chil­dren were asked to come up with ideas for a com­po­si­tion, the ones with bet­ter hand­writ­ing exhib­ited greater neural acti­va­tion in areas asso­ci­ated with work­ing mem­ory — and increased over­all acti­va­tion in the read­ing and writ­ing net­works.

We live in an age where mod­ern con­ve­niences are chang­ing at light­ning speed. The way we com­mu­ni­cate, watch TV, use computers……………………….all dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than just two years ago. Even the food we eat is less whole­some than in years past. Our brain and other organs are still the same and requires proper stim­u­la­tion and nour­ish­ment. It scares me to think of how we may be hurt­ing our chil­dren as a result of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

I urge all par­ents and teach­ers to be fully mind­ful as we pre­pare our chil­dren towards their future.



Early Readers

chess is my game


As a par­ent edu­ca­tor and a tutor for early read­ers, I am pleased to announce the first book authored by my youngest stu­dent. 

Once a child has a solid foun­da­tion of let­ter sounds then they can begin to use inven­tive spelling to rep­re­sent words. Photographs or  their own illus­tra­tions add the fin­ish­ing touch. 

As a sea­soned and now retired kinder­garten teacher, I am able to pub­lish a book that has con­trolled vocab­u­lary, repet­i­tive and pre­dic­tive text with pic­tures to pro­vide a solid clue to the unknown word. The result is a book that the author is very proud of, as well as a book that can be an inst­pi­ra­tion to young read­ers and writ­ers in gen­eral. 

I am proud of this first book and will soon be announc­ing his sec­ond in this series. Karate Is My Sport.




How Important is Reading To Your Child?


I would like to make this blog sim­ple. The title is a ques­tion and the con­tent could be one word: YES.

The End

The rea­son why I felt the need to write about an activ­ity that has long been the #1 rec­om­mended activ­ity for so long by just about every teacher and child related pro­fes­sional is that I am afraid many new par­ents see read­ing as old fash­ioned. Compared to the new tech­nol­ogy, books could appear bor­ing and dull. Parents read­ing to their child is some­thing so unique that we must fight to keep it in a child’s home life.

When a par­ent and child snug­gle close and look at the same page some­thing mag­i­cal hap­pens. It’s slow, self paced and simul­ta­ne­ously makes and recounts mem­o­ries. There are oodles of oppor­tu­ni­ties to laugh,connect to the story on a per­sonal level and dis­cuss impor­tant lessons. Good writ­ers choose their words care­fully so the words paint pic­tures in our minds and dance in our hearts. It is a spe­cial and impor­tant time on so many lev­els. 

Many chil­dren these days pre­fer to play on their iPads or other devices which frees up mom and dad from hav­ing to sit with them and read the way so many of us older folk did. I encour­age all young par­ents to ded­i­cate some qual­ity time to read­ing with your child. It will pro­mote stronger aca­d­e­mic skills for sure but more impor­tantly, it will con­nect you with your child on a deeper level. There is truly noth­ing that takes the place of read­ing with your child. 

Related links on the impor­tance of read­ing to your child:




Kindergarten tip: aural reasoning or following directions


Aural rea­son­ing and fol­low­ing multi-step direc­tions go hand in hand and is a crit­i­cal part of all kinder­garten entrance exams. Doing well in this area is also a pre­dic­tor of school suc­cess as chil­dren who can fol­low direc­tions will under­stand a teacher and their expec­ta­tions with­out the need for rep­e­ti­tion.

To help your child with this skill, try to increase the num­ber of steps in your ver­bal direc­tions and bring atten­tion to your child’s suc­cess. Be spe­cific about your praise by say­ing some­thing like: “I asked you to brush your teeth and put on your paja­mas and you did both things all by your­self.” or “The direc­tions were to write your name, draw a per­son and a house and you remem­bered to all three things.”

There is a chance that this activ­ity could also help your child focus on coop­er­a­tion and inde­pen­dence. Woo hoo.