Why America Can’t Read

Advanced research in cognitive science including brain scan science is demonstrating that explicit spelling instruction may be the missing link to reading success in America where sixty-five percent of fourth graders read below proficiency levels.

Play, Common Core, and Early Reading Untangled

In a raging debate, leading researchers in reading education are speaking out in favor of keeping Common Core Kindergarten Literacy Standards. Their message? It’s perfectly fine for five year olds to play AND learn to read in school!

Spelling Knowledge Matters for High School Reading Fluency

A renown cognitive psychologist is touting the importance of spelling for reading achievement. He says spelling, which continues to develop even into high school, is just as important for high school and college-ready reading fluency as sounding out words in kindergarten. He’s right!

2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee Wows the Nation

It couldn’t have been better. America’s sharpest and brightest middle-school spellers wowed the world at the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee—arguably one of ESPN’s most thrilling sporting events of the year.

High Stakes Testing in America

“Thank God it’s over.” That’s what my high school educator friend in Florida says. The fattening-the-pig-by-weighing-it, over-the-top testing, happened almost every day from March to mid-May and impacted every student in his school. Everyone’s overwrought with this mess, most likely including the guy who started it, Jeb Bush.

An Ode to Common Core Kindergarten Standards

There is much wrong with American kindergartens—but Common Core State Standards are not to blame. If interpreted correctly, Common Core standards for literacy enable us to help enhance the kindergarten experience for all kindergarten children—from the underprepared to the most gifted and advanced.

Writing and Art, Picasso, and the Common Core

What would Picasso have to say about Common Core State Standards now driving the curriculum—and leaving art behind—in over 40 states? As it turns out, both Picasso and psychological studies support a call for cross-disciplinary connections at all levels of education.

16 Great Holiday Gift Books for Babies and Toddlers

Books make great gifts for babies and toddlers. Here are sixteen of my favorites with a very short review to help you make your choices. Come back to this list often—you can use it all year long!

Brain Scans Map a Pathway to Reading and Dyslexia Diagnosis

It’s good to celebrate recent strides in brain imaging to diagnose dyslexia, but are we clapping with one hand?

Do You Know More Black History than a Fourth Grader?

In light of recent events and a call by many to reassess and understand race relations in America, it occurs to me that how we think and act in race-related situations is affected by our understanding and personal history regarding race. Our past is part of our present. That being said, how much black history do you know? Take this short fourth-grade quiz to find out.

5 Back-to-School Questions for the First Team Meeting

Every good parent wants their child in an academically challenging school program that meets their child’s individual needs. Whether you are the parent of a child with disabilities or not, begin the school year with five questions that will require the school team to know your child’s present levels of achievement. Don't wait for the end-of-year test!

5 Ways to Read Aloud to Babies and Reap Later School Success

62,000 pediatricians just adopted a new policy: Read aloud to infants from birth! But will reading aloud to your preschooler carry over to academic success in school? The answer is “yes,” especially if you use five research-based reading aloud strategies.

Want Your Child to Graduate? Follow this Advice

It’s well established that the best predictor of a student’s achievement in school is parent involvement. You want your child to be happy in school, do his or her homework, get higher scores on tests, make good grades, go to college, and graduate. How can you be involved without being a hovering helicopter parent?

Are More Boys than Girls Dyslexic?

Find out the myth about gender and dyslexia that has become urban legend.

Celebrate World Book Day!

Find out about how to celebrate World Book Day in your local schools.

What Is High Quality Literacy Instruction in Preschool?

Everybody is talking about high quality preschools but few folks know what high quality preschool looks like—especially for literacy development. The following checklist can be used to evaluate quality literacy engagement in any preschool classroom.

The Importance of Handwriting Instruction

Handwriting is crucial for early learning and a worthy human endeavor.

In Plain Language: 5 Big FAQ’s About Dyslexia

Psychologists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists are unraveling the mysteries of dyslexia. Here are five important frequently asked questions and answers about dyslexia that cut through the scientific jargon to bring you up to date.

10 Rules for Kindergarten Readiness in Spanish

A school district in Texas with a predominant population of Mexican Americans sent me a Spanish translation of my “10 Rules for Reading Aloud and Kindergarten Readiness” post. The district is sharing it with all the preschool parents in their district. These rules give Spanish-only speaking parents tips for getting kids ready for kindergarten literacy success.

10 Rules for Reading Aloud to Preschoolers

Research shows interactions such as reading and talking to your child can lead to a 30 million word advantage by age 3 if you start early—with huge advantages in language and vocabulary development by 18-months of age. Here’s how to get your preschooler ready for kindergarten now, and avoid early literacy catastrophe.

5 Ways to Motivate Young Writers and Readers

Little kids want to write. What can parents and preschool teachers do to capture this intrinsic motivation? Here are five fun, everyday writing activities you don’t want to miss along with educational and scientific research to back them up.

Lifelong Learning Starts Before Preschool

Should you teach your child to read, do math, and recount facts about the world before age 4? And if you do, what options do you have later for formal schooling? Do parents who foster early learners end up with regrets? Neuroscience is revealing special capacities for brain development before age 6 when neuroplasticity may be at its peak. Reflections from an expert:

5 Reasons Why Writing Helps Early Reading

What’s the best way to teach reading to beginners in preschool, kindergarten, first grade or home school and how can we do it better? Both research and practice are offering a novel idea: Teach kids to read by writing.

The Need for Collaborative Schooling and Spelling Tests

This year’s back to school night was a nightmare. “No spelling test!” was the tip of the iceberg. When administrators at ‘back to school night’ said “spelling is not important enough to be tested;” “kids can just use spellcheck; “we use ‘word study;’” and “we can’t meet the needs of a gifted child,” it was time to homeschool! What about the collaborative schooling option?

Help Children Crack the Reading Code (Part 2)

Research in neuroscience confirms what parents and teachers should do to help children crack the reading code. Find out what showing kids how to sound out words does for their brain.

Help Children Crack the Reading Code (Part 1 of 2)

It’s easy for you to read the words to, too, and two or eye, I, you and ewe and get right to the meaning. But how do you explain the logic of English spelling to a beginning reader? Should we simply tell them “Spell it like it sounds”? The answer is "No!" Find out what to do.

5 Learning Techniques Psychologists Say Kids Aren’t Getting

Are we showing our kids the best way to learn? A recent study of ten learning techniques says, “No!” In fact, we may be encouraging kids, through our own ignorance and the perpetuation of traditions, to spend time and effort on activities we know to be unhelpful—at the expense of things that science tells us would be much more effective.

Will Common Core Wreck Writing in Schools?

Common Core Standards—adopted by 45 states—is supposed to bring back writing in schools. Ironically, a writing revolution in schools happened 37 years ago when an eloquent professor named Donald Graves cracked the psychology of writing. Today some teachers fear Common Core is wrecking writing instruction in their classrooms.

How Writing Instruction Is Changing in Schools

Here are Common Core's ten anchor standards for writing followed by ten recommendations to help teachers and schools meet them.

Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K

Get the facts right on preschool and the President's pre-K proposal. In a recently released policy report, Dr. Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) provides impartial and comprehensive reviews of the science behind President Obama’s call for universal preschool education.