Hi, I am Jeannine Herron, a research neuropsychologist living in San Rafael, California. I have been the principal investigator on four reading research studies funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and I have developed a line of educational software that helps children ages 6-9 learn how to read, write and type.

Through this blog I hope to share my passion for education and the things I have learned over the years as a researcher, teacher, mother and now, a software developer. My goal is to make reading fun for young learners, and help them develop the habits and skills that will assist them in learning for years to come.



Reader Survey

Readers

I am new at this blogging thing. And delighted to have some readers! Would you mind answering some questions so I can improve my blogging? I’d also be happy to answer questions you might have.

1) What category of post do you appreciate the most (ex: research, education, parenting, software, phonics, disorders)?

2) Do you prefer long or short posts?

3) Do you share these blog posts on other social networks?

4) What could I do to improve the usability of this blog?

5) How did you first find this blog?

Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comment field. I hope this helps me to serve you better.

Best,

Jeannine

Rhyming games to play with your children

Rhyming GamesSusan Maguire is a retired kindergarten teacher and blogs at “Together Time 4 Families“. This post titled “4 Sound Awareness Activities for Your Preschooler” has some good ideas for developing a young child’s awareness of the sounds in words.  Rhyming and listening for beginning sounds are fun, especially if you make them into a game.

Here’s an additional idea:  Make up your own endings to nursery rhymes as a game to play in the car or wandering around the grocery store.

Your child can fill in the blank! For example:

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such sport.

And the dish ran away with the ___(spoon).

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the house.

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the cat ran away with the ___(mouse).

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the man.

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the pot ran away with the ____(pan).

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the stork

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the knife ran away with the ____(fork). Etc.

Learning (not memorizing) will make reading FUN

This blog post from Imagination Soup suggests as the first of 5 ideas for kids who hate to read:

“1. MODEL. Read the page or sentences first.  Have your child repeat.”

This strategy may help a child memorize the appearance of the words.  It does not give a child tools to decipher words on his own.

Research shows that children need to learn phoneme awareness (to identify each sound in a word) and phonics (to associate each of those 40 sounds with the letter(s) that stand for that sound).  Then they can sound-out words on their own.  The next paragraphs explain why I think it’s important for parents and teachers to understand this research:

kids readingIf a child hates reading, perhaps it is because the way he is being taught sets up inefficient pathways in the brain. Inefficient processing makes reading hard work, and not fun (no matter how interesting the subject matter). (more…)

A Story to Explain Brain Research About Reading

A Typical Day in a Brain Research Lab

The machine was familiar to her now, but it was still amazing to think that it could take a picture of her son’s brain while he was reading!  Johnny was lying down inside the machine, and she could hear him answering questions that the doctor was asking.

Ann sat down to wait and thought about all that had happened in the last couple of months. Her son had been having a hard time in second grade.  She knew she had to do something about it when he came home crying, saying that everyone else knew how to read, and he just didn’t get it.

“I’m just stupid”, he had sobbed.  “I’m never going to learn how to read!”

His teacher told her that Johnny was quite bright, but that he did have trouble reading.  She suggested that Ann might look into the reading research project that was going on in the neuroscience department at the nearby university.  At first Ann was skeptical that brain research would be of any help to Johnny, but she noticed that they were also providing special instruction.  Luckily, she came to a decision that would change Johnny’s life.

(more…)

Free Educational Books from Talking Fingers

Read togetherWe want you to know that there are 18 highly entertaining decodable books available at our web site, FREE, on pdf files.  Just print them out and help your child sound-out the words and read them.  Please make sure he or she is sounding out the words, not memorizing how they look.

Let me know if you find these helpful and if you have any questions!

Message to Parents: Your kids only learn to read once!

Avery & Mom readingYour child will only learn to read and write once! Don’t miss it!

Sometimes it happens in the space of a few short months. You can play a vital role, and it may be one of the most significant things you and your child ever do together. Reading and writing are the most important skills children learn for success and happiness in school and beyond.

Learning to read and write is a staggering accomplishment, much more difficult than learning to speak and to understand speech. Becoming literate is one of the most essential major learning experiences of modern life. It is a valuable tool for personal expression, and a doorway to the written wisdom of the brightest and most interesting members of the human tribe since history began.

I believe that computers offer an extraordinary opportunity for parents to participate in this critical learning experience with their children. Educational software and learning materials provid a unique framework for short enjoyable day-to-day lessons. A few minutes each day is all that it takes. (more…)

Assessing Your Child’s Phonics Skills

CharactersChildren sometimes do well on reading tests in first or second grade because they are good at memorizing the visual appearance of words. You think they are doing fine!

However, when they get to third grade, they may start experiencing more difficulty because they encounter many more words that begin to look alike. If they have not learned to “sound-out” words using phonics skills, they will not be able to decode new words independently, and they may have more and more difficulty as reading becomes more complex. Guessing from context or pictures no longer works if there are too many gaps in a sentence to comprehend the overall meaning. If guessing becomes a strategy, children often begin to feel uncomfortable about reading, because they are not experiencing success. Their confidence lags, and their interest and curiosity can turn to frustration.

Nonsense Words

Try this simple test to assess whether a child is using phonics and knows how to sound-out new words. The words at the right are nonsense words. Cover the answers and ask the child to read the non-words on this page. The correct pronunciation is suggested in the parentheses. Listen carefully to the pronunciation. When children miss more than three, or take a long time to figure out each word, they need more practice with encoding and decoding words and non-words. The use of phonics should be automatic and unconscious, like riding a bicycle.

If you have our Read, Write & Type software, you can also insert the Spaceship Challenge CD, sign in as a GUEST, and ask children to play Level 2. If they have difficulty naming the pictures and identifying the sounds, or if they do poorly on reading comprehension or spelling, they will benefit from support with the extra activities and games suggested in the day-to-day lessons from our Read, Write & Type activity book. Download it for free on our website, and try practicing with your child today.

To download the activity book in PDF format, look for the link on our website, it’s number 7 on the list of “Read, Write & Type Learning System (RWTLS) PDF Documents”.

Your First Grader Can Write!

Kasey writesFirst graders can write!  And what’s more they WANT to write!  The story below by Kasey, age 6, is a marvelous example, (produced in the Read, Write & Type lab at her school in Los Altos, California).

Writing is a way to learn how to think.  As E.M. Forester once said “How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” As children put their ideas on paper, they have to figure out what they know, what they believe, and what they feel. As they read what they write, the ideas are changed and perfected. The earlier they start learning this process, the earlier they will develop their ability to express ideas clearly and thoughtfully.

Writing came before reading when it was first invented.  Writing comes before reading as a natural way to begin to understand words on paper.  It is the writer who creates words for the reader to read.  It is the writer who initiates the action—who chooses the words, generates the ideas, and actively shapes the meaning of the message.  It is the writer who sees the “big picture” but who, at the same time, must assemble the whole message one piece at a time from individual sounds and letters.  Children can read without writing, but they cannot write without reading.

Children learn best by putting their ideas about the world into their own words and by telling (or writing) about them.  Getting feedback from an audience is a good way to learn whether or not their ideas make sense.

Writing makes ideas visible.  Once ideas are captured in print, children can read them over and over and think about them.  They can show their ideas to others.  As they revise their work, they become more confident about what they know, what they believe, and who they are.

“Plants grow from a seed and roots.

We grow from food and water and love.

Anamas grow from food and water.

Love grows from fathe.

Drowings grow from a pencel or cran or makr.

A brane grows from lrning.

A stoey grows from an idea.”

-Kasey, First Grade

An Extraordinary Man: A Dedicated School Volunteer

kids need YOUR helpI want to tell you about an extraordinary man. His name is Fred and he won’t tell me how old he is.  I know about him because he writes passionate emails to me every week about the children and schools he is helping.  This is the story of a superhero, an amazing school volunteer.

Fred is a retired Aerospace engineer and spent most of his life helping management decide what new business to go after, how to beat out competitors, and how to allocate research and development funds needed to create new products.

He had made no plans for retirement when Hughes Aircraft decided to downsize and laid off 10,000 employees in 1989.  As he was going through the termination process at Hughes, he found out that they had a K-12 Education Program already in place.  “At the time, “ Fred says, “I didn’t think much about it but a few months later I decided to attend one of their monthly luncheon meetings. I joined their program as a classroom partner with my daughter who was a middle school math teacher. I think it was about 1992 that I started helping schools.”

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Technology Won’t Teach Without YOU!

sesame street

Pre-K Lessons Linked to TV Produce Gains in Literacy (but with a big caveat!)  This summary is from an article Education Week, Oct 21, 2009.

A new study has found that low-income pre-schoolers made significant gains in acquiring skills such as naming letters and knowing the sounds associated with these letters, and understanding concepts about stories and printed words.  These gains were found after children participated in a technology-supported literacy curriculum that used videos from “Super Why”, “Sesame Street”, and “Between the Lions” (PBS) as part of the Education Department’s “Ready to Learn Initiative”.

But the program used what they called ENGAGED VIEWING.

(more…)

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