Friday, August 1, 2014

Let's Potty! A Terrific Resource

I sometimes have the opportunity to review new books and products that are designed for children and parents. I recently had the pleasure to take a look at Let’s Potty, a potty training board game created by Aim High Games, Inc. 

Did you know that the term “potty training” is one of the most-searched terms of all parenting issues? No wonder. It can be fraught with tension between child and parent, competition among parents, and feelings of frustration and despair. This fresh and creative product, designed to facilitate the toilet training process, is a new resource to deal with those challenges.

I am a big fan of multifaceted approaches to issues. For example, I think a book can be a good starting point for talking to children about something new or upsetting —whether it is starting school, moving to a new home, a loved one’s death, and so on. Likewise a game can be an ideal vehicle for dealing with a developmental step. Game playing builds social skills as well as cognitive and physiological abilities. Young children love playing games. They enjoy the back-and-forth, the rules, the feeling that they are doing something grown up. And this lighthearted game reinforces all those needs, and does it uniquely and with spirit. It also provides parents and children with accessible vocabulary to use for potty training and experiences to refer to in the real world.

I loved this game—its colorful graphics, humorous style, and lighthearted touch offer parents a fun way to take some of the angst out of toilet training. If you are thinking about or in the process of toilet training your young child, check out this award winning game. It is a terrific resource. For more information, go to

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reading Early May Increase Brain Power

As if I needed to have one more reason to encourage parents to read to their children!

A new study from the University of Edinburgh finds that developing early reading skills may lead to higher intelligence scores later on. This longitudinal study compared twins over the course of many years, and found that the twin whose early reading ability was stronger scored higher in intelligence testing over the course of years, even at age 16.

Of course, the best reason to read to your young children is to love the time together, and show your young one the joys of reading and learning. But in case you are motivated or intrigued by this interesting study, published in a reputable research journal, I thought I'd share it!

Here is a link to a description of the study. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Take a (Picture) Walk

It might be time to lose the words—for now anyway. 

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the pictures of a book. Take your time. The idea behind a picture walk is that you go through a book’s illustrations before reading it in order to get an idea of what is included in the book.

The discussion may be engaging enough that you don’t get around to actually reading the book—in that sitting. Have your child tell you what she sees. Ask her what is happening and listen to what she see says. Once you actually read the book, you can compare what you both predicted the book to be about to what it actually turned out to be.

Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just What the Doctor Ordered . . .

Read aloud to your very young children--from birth.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatric announced that its policy will be to have doctors, during regular check-ups, recommend to parents that they begin reading aloud to their infants. Research has shown that children who are read to, talked to, and sung to, develop larger vocabularies and enjoy more success in school than children who do not have the same kind of exposure. The pediatricians' group thinks that early reading may just help head off remediation down the road.

So curl up with a good book that has lively rhythms and rhymes. Read aloud to your infant, knowing that you are doing great things for your baby's development. And enjoy the time together! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beyond the Bedtime Story

I just saw an interesting post on Facebook. Reach Out and Read, a wonderful literacy organization posted a picture of a father and his young son poring over a book of maps. They were preparing for the upcoming World Cup soccer competition, talking about the many nations from around the world that will be represented for the games in Brazil.

I love the idea of changing up your reading routine. Besides books, feel free to read just about anything your child is interested in. Is your preschooler attracted to numbers? Read a train schedule. Look at a seed catalog to admire the varieties of flowers and vegetables that are pictured.  Look at some old family photos.

The idea is to make your routines pleasant and something to look forward to. There is no need to limit yourself to books. The sky is the limit! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Run, Don't Walk!

So the official (or is it unofficial?) start of summer is here! That means summer reading lists . . . for you and for your preschooler.

Make your first stop the nearest public library. Find out what kinds of programs are available for your young child. Children's librarians are trained to engage children; they pick out appropriate books and have lots of ideas for how get to get your child enthusiastic about reading.

Pick up the schedule for story hours, craft hours, movies, and other programs geared to your child's developmental level and interests. They are likely to be free. It is a no-brainer. Run, don't walk, to your local library!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love Letters?

I am not so focused on teaching reading skills per se. My main interest in early literacy is for parents to encourage their young children to love books and reading.

However, if while reading a story together, you notice that your preschooler shows curiosity about the actual letters on a page, encourage her interest. Say aloud the sounds that the letter makes. Name some words that begin with the letter. Then, point out more examples of the letter in print--in other books, magazines, on street signs, and so on.

Show her how the same letter appears in different sizes and fonts and in uppercase well as lowercase. Demonstrate how you print the letter on paper, where it lives on a keyboard, and let your preschooler try her hand at writing the letter.

Then, if your preschooler seems to lose interest in this discussion, drop it immediately, and get back to your story!


There are all kinds of readers. Some—like my daughter and me—are never without a book to read for pleasure. Others—like my son—are careful, analytical, and curious readers who read primarily to seek information from the page.

No matter what kind of reader your child becomes, you can help him or her get started. After all, you are your child’s first teacher. And, best of all, you can have some fun in the process.

Please feel free to share your own ideas. Tell me about ways you've enjoyed reading with your child.