Albert Einstein, king of the pithy statement, once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
And, it will come as no surprise, that the eminent scientist has been proven right time and again. In fact, studies into the effects of reading on childhood development highlight that reading for pleasure doesn’t just help a child’s educational performance.
Children who read daily not only do better in school, but have a more extensive vocabulary, better general knowledge, and an improved understanding and interest in other cultures.
Why does reading matter?
Research by BookTrust, the largest children’s reading charity in the UK, has found that reading allows children to develop a wide range of literacy skills, as well as setting the foundations for social interactions.
Based on research from 2014, BookTrust advises that book experiences for children should start from as early as 3-4 months of age, and their enhanced language and communication skills become evident from around 8 months old.
Books also provide a ‘stable source of information’ for a child, which allows them to make sense of what they encounter in the world. This vital background knowledge of “the world out there” helps improve their cognitive development.
Reading as childhood #lifehacks
It’s no stretch to say that childhood reading helps children to develop critical life skills, as well as thinking skills. That’s not all that some time with a good book can do for your little one.
Reading is Fundamental
There are some great ways to promote reading to your child, including:
Image credit: Ben White on Unsplash
Project Director at GraphoGame
During the Coronavirus pandemic and consequent lockdown, a lot of questions have been brought up about education. As children can no longer attend traditional schools, parents are having to figure out how they will manage their children’s education. While it is certainly a challenge, especially insofar as it requires juggling school with work with household maintenance in a way like never before, it’s also a unique opportunity to make individualized choices for what will best suit your children, allowing you to move past the typical understanding of learning as something that takes place through books, spreadsheets, and lectures.
Because, in reality, learning is so much more than that. In fact, one of the best ways to help your children learn is just to give them the space and freedom to engage in unstructured play on their own terms. This article explains why play is so important to learning and how you can leverage it to help your children.
Why Play Is So Important
If your kid would rather build structures out of Legos or play pretend instead of doing worksheets or sitting through Zoom lessons all day, don’t worry, they’re not being lazy or brainless. In fact, just the opposite. Because, especially for young children, education is about so much more than just learning facts and figures.
Many experts consider play absolutely key to learning. In fact, the United Nations has even recognized it as a human right for all children. That’s because play gives children a way to make sense of the world, letting them use their innate curiosity for the better. It encourages creativity and problem solving and lets kids use their imaginations.
Beyond that, play is also critical for setting the stage for further learning and brain development. It develops children’s emerging skills, motivates them, and increases their chances of enjoying the process of learning throughout their lives. According to the Canadian Council on Learning, "Play nourishes every aspect of children’s development – it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in life.”
Here’s a short list of just some of the things that play helps children learn:
What is Play?
But just because play is natural and comes to children easily doesn’t mean that we’re encouraging you to go completely hands-off in their education. On the contrary, the more deliberate your children’s playtime, the more they will get out of it. As a parent, it’s up to you to make sure that your kids are being set up to optimally learn through play.
However, it’s important to know that play should be spontaneous and voluntary. There shouldn’t be any extrinsic goal, and the child should be engaged and enjoying themselves, able to stop whenever they want.
So what's your role in all of this?
Don’t feel pressured to over-schedule your child’s time with books and workbooks and online learning. Instead, give them the unstructured free time to try new things, invent, create, and explore. Create an environment that encourages and facilitates play. Give your child access to blocks, art supplies, games, and costumes and props for their make-believe.
The beautiful thing is that children can and should figure it out for themselves. So you don’t need to feel guilty if you can’t be on top of your child every second, micromanaging their time in the name of education. It’s okay if you need to focus for a bit on your work or chores or self-care. Your kid won’t lose anything for having more free play time. In fact, they’ll probably get even more out of it.
Photo source: https://unsplash.com/photos/ecRuhwPIW7c
There are so many challenges that have come with the global Coronavirus lockdown, and we’re all struggling to make things work in this new, uncharted territory. But one thing that is for certain is that parents are being especially stretched, having to balance working from home and doing their own usual household tasks with the new challenge of helping their kids continue learning in the absence of traditional classroom education.
It’s become clear to many that engaging, motivating, and focusing a child on schoolwork is no easy feat. Here are some tips and ideas you can try out to help inspire your kids to learn while stuck at home.
Make it Fun
One way you can motivate your kids to learn at home is to make learning fun. After all, kids are driven by nothing if not a good time. Of course it will be difficult to encourage your kid to make it through a dreary math worksheet, but you’ll have a much easier time getting them to learn the same exact material if the method of delivery is more engaging.
We highly recommend looking into online learning for kids, which is specifically designed to be engaging for the appropriate age level. For example, there are a myriad of educational websites full of learning games in every subject from English to science to math and more. You might even get lucky and find educational games that your child loves so much that they’d rather do them than play a video game or watch a YouTube video.
Let Them Lead
Another tip to get your kids learning during lockdown is to let them take the lead in the process. In fact, that is a unique advantage of this time. With more freedom, your child can have the opportunity to learn about and explore the topics that are of special interest to them. After all, kids are naturally curious creatures and have an innate drive to learn about new things. Chances are, your child is teeming with questions and topics they want to learn more about.
So take this as an opportunity to get to know your child’s interests and encourage and facilitate their exploration of them. Is your kid an astronomy lover? Get them a children’s telescope. Do they love experimenting with mixing together different liquids from around the house? Consider finding them some chemistry experiments to do. Are they super into the history of ancient Egypt? There are sure to be some kid-friendly books and documentaries on the subject you can give them.
As a parent, you probably already know the power of rewards in disciplining and raising children. From praising your children when they use the potty for the first time to letting your teenager borrow your car after a week of good behaviour, rewards are one of the most powerful tools in the parenting box. And that tool is equally effective when it comes to motivating your child to learn.
Depending on your child’s age, personality, and interests, identify some appropriate rewards that are minor enough to be affordable and easy to give but special enough to make a difference. That might be a sticker, a healthy treat, twenty minutes of video game time, or something else - it’s up to you.
The important part is tying that reward to the achievement of certain learning goals. For example, you might give your child a reward if they manage to finish a certain number of pages in a book by the end of the day. The great thing about this method is that it’s so flexible and can be adjusted to fit your family’s particular needs.
If you can use these tips, you’ll tap into your child’s natural tendencies, interests, and desires to get them learning enthusiastically - and hopefully give you a spare moment to yourself.
Good luck and stay healthy!
Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash
Elizabeth Agbor Eta
Project Director at GraphoGame.
What is social impact of research?
Research plays an important role when it comes to solving complex social problems, producing knowledge for policymaking, and enhancing innovation. Social impact of research refers to the outcomes and benefits of research that are used outside the academic institutions. Broadly speaking, social impact of research includes the interactions, practices and tools that researchers have developed over time with other societal actors.
For example, in the field of education, researchers help policymakers, teachers, schools, pupils and their parents by producing relevant information that can be used in schools and homes. At its best, one can describe social impact of research as a dialogical relationship between the various actors in society. GraphoGame is an example of such dialogue and a ‘carrier’ of social impact. Its development shows how the results of research expand from local settings to a global scale.
Solving local and global literacy problems with GraphoGame
The research behind GraphoGame started in the 1980s in Jyväskylä, Finland, where researchers at the University of Jyväskylä studied learning difficulties and collaborated closely with schools and children with learning difficulties. Over time, the combination of academic and practical work led to the development of learning materials, diagnostic methods, and training tools to be used by professionals and pupils in schools.
A turning point was the discovery of the letter-sound connection as a precursor of dyslexia. It was one of the findings of a longitudinal study and it helped researchers produce new understanding of dyslexia and reading processes. The finding brought together the explanation, prediction and prevention of dyslexia, which was crystallised in the development of GraphoGame. It soon became a motivating yet individual tool for children who were learning how to read.
In Finland, GraphoGame was distributed broadly, but researchers soon realised its potential in other languages. In collaboration with top universities around, GraphoGame has been researched in the following languages: UK English (University of Cambridge Centre for Neuroscience in Education), French (Aix-Marseille University), Dutch (University of Groningen), Portuguese (Politecnico do Porto), Spanish (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), Chinese Pinyin (Beijing Normal University), Chinese Zhuyin (Academia Sinica), Norwegian (University of Stavanger), Swedish (Lund University), Cinyanja (University of Zambia), U.S English (Yale/Haskins laboretorie).
In any new language, GraphoGame is studied and developed with local researchers. This is paramount since each language and school system is unique. What started as a quest for understanding reading processes and dyslexia in the Finnish context, evolved into a global effort to tackle illiteracy.
Expanding social impact of research with GraphoGame
The example of GraphoGame shows how the different dimensions of social impact come together. First, it was the research findings that helped researchers to understand dyslexia. Second, to make use of that understanding led to the development of a training tool for children. Finally, global collaboration made the dissemination possible, expanding the use of GraphoGame.
It’s easy to see that today’s social problems, such as learning difficulties are complex and link many areas of life together. Learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, are connected to school systems, access to learning materials and individual support. Overcoming difficulties in learning plays an important role in the individual’s life as schools prepare them for working life. Being able to read and write is a basic need, a necessity for future success. In the end, problems related to illiteracy become questions of inclusion, democracy and empowerment. The solutions may require time to materialise but with the help of research, it is easier to understand the phenomena behind the problems and tackle them early on.
Check out GraphoGame today for more information on how this evidence-based literacy game is helping kindergarten and primary school children around the world to learn to read and spell in an engaging, simple and fun way.
Photo Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/vbxyFxlgpjM
Terhi Esko (M.Soc.Sci) is a researcher focusing on science, technology and innovation studies. Terhi Esko studied the development of GraphoGame in her doctoral dissertation. Currently she works at Tampere University studying the emergence of health tech and life science firms in Finland. Her doctoral dissertation ‘Societal Problem Solving and University Research. Science-Society Interaction and Social Impact in the Educational and Social Sciences’ will be publicly examined on May 15 2020 at the University of Helsinki at 13 o’clock (live streaming at http://video.helsinki.fi/unitube/live-stream.html?room=l6)
There are approximately 650 million children throughout the world who are primary school-age, and 250 million of them are unable to read or write.
Over the years, experts have debated on the best way to teach literacy that will raise achievement levels and give children the tools and confidence needed to cope and be successful in school and beyond.
Read on for more information about some of the different approaches to teaching literacy. You’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of these methods so you can choose one that works best for you and the kids you’re teaching.
For years, one of the most popular teaching literacy strategies was the Alphabetic Method. In fact, it’s been around since ancient Greek and Roman times.
This approach to literacy education involves teaching children each letter of the alphabet in order (both its name and its pronunciation). Using this method, children also learn to write each letter at the same time.
At the same time that they’re learning each letter, children also learn simple vowel and consonant combinations. For example, m + a = ma. From two-letter syllables, they go on to learn longer syllables and then, eventually, full words and sentences.
Using the Alphabetic Method, reading starts off feeling very mechanical. It can take longer for children who learn in this way to become expressive readers. It can also take longer for them to start to truly comprehend what they’re reading.
Another traditional approach is the Syllabic Method. This involves teaching children the vowels (A, E, I, O, and U) first. From here, they learn the consonants, beginning with those that are easiest for them to pronounce. This is sometimes referred to as building the syllabic bridge.
After learning the consonants, children will blend vowels and consonants to create syllables (ma, me, mi, mo, mu, etc.). Once they’ve mastered this, they’ll move on to learning more complex syllables, then words, phrases, and, eventually, sentences.
As with the Alphabetic Method, when teaching children using the Syllabic Method, reading can start out sounding very methodical. It can take quite a while before children start to read more expressively and comprehend what they’re reading.
The Phonetic Method is one of the most popular and effective methods of teaching literacy. It’s encouraged more often than other approaches.
In this style of teaching, children first learn each vowel based on their sounds. Teachers will often use figures and images that start with each letter to help children remember them, and children also learn to write vowels at the same time.
After teaching vowels, instructors will teach consonants with their sounds, using images and objects for better retention. After this, children go on to learn how to blend the sounds of consonants with the sounds of the five vowels to form simple syllables.
Once children have learned simple syllables, they should be able to learn simple words and phrases. After this, more complex concepts are taught, including inverse syllables, mixed and complex syllables, diphthongs, and triphthongs. They can then combine all of these into more complicated words and phrases.
The Phonetic Approach, which is used in many interactive literacy games, does a great job of fostering confidence. GraphoGame uses an enhanced phonetic approach called Synthetic Phonics. GraphoGame’s English version is based on research on reading by “rhyme analogy”, carried out in the 1980s and 1990s by Professor Usha Goswami. The rhyme analogy research highlighted the importance of oral awareness of linguistic “onset-rime” units in reading development. To segment a word into onset-rime units, divide at the vowel (“s-ing”, “st-ing”, “spr-ing”). Developed at the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, the English GraphoGame focuses on rime patterns, teaching individual letter-sound correspondences within rhyming families of words.
Get Help Teaching Literacy Today
As you can see, there are lots of different ways that you can go about teaching literacy to children. Do you need help figuring out an approach that works well for your child (or the children you teach)? If so, consider giving GraphoGame a try today.
GraphoGame is a fun and evidence-based children’s literacy app. It uses Finnish methods of literacy teaching to help young children gain the skills they need to establish a solid foundation and become competent readers. It also tracks children’s progress and alerts parents or teachers so they can become aware of and work to correct potential issues right away.
Check out GraphoGame today to see how it works for your children!
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Co-founder & Head of Partnerships at GraphoGame
Throughout the world, more than 250 million children are illiterate or struggling to read. Even though a lot of these children are in school, they’re having a hard time keeping up and are failing to acquire basic literacy skills.
The World Bank calls this issue “learning poverty,” and UNESCO has referred to it as a “global learning crisis.” UNESCO also reports that it’s costing hundreds of billions of pounds per year.
By placing a greater emphasis on early grade literacy, we can work to solve this crisis and give more children the tools they need to succeed. Read on to learn more about the importance of early grade literacy and why it’s essential that we invest in it.
What Caused the Global Learning Crisis?
The global learning crisis is a multifaceted problem. There are many reasons why kids throughout the world are struggling to read and write, but lack of resources and access to learning opportunities are some of the contributors.
Educational resources are unevenly distributed around the world. In some countries, children enjoy full access to quality education and resources that support learning. In others, access to learning resources and educational opportunities is limited. In the latter, many children lack access to quality books and reading materials not only at home but also in school. This is especially true for the approximately one-third of children who live in poverty worldwide.
How Can Investing in Early Grade Literacy Help?
The earlier kids start working on their reading skills, the better off they’ll be. Investments in early grade literacy provide numerous benefits to children, parents, and educators all over the world. The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits:
Reduced Spending: According to the World Bank, children’s reading programs are very cost-effective, especially in developing nations. When they’re implemented correctly, they can also lead to significant reductions in spending.
Optimal Learning Times: When children are young, their brains are primed for optimal literacy. It’s much easier to teach reading and language skills among young children than it is to teach them when they get older.
Better Outcomes: Focusing on early grade literacy leads to better learning outcomes, too. When children have an opportunity to learn to read early on, they also tend to perform better as older students. They have better general knowledge, better attention spans, and improved concentrations.
Ways to Invest in Early Grade Literacy
Investments in early grade literacy are crucial to children’s long-term success. Where should we focus our attention and funding, though? Listed below are some of the greatest investments we can and should be making:
Early Childhood Education Programs: Investment in early childhood programs can lead to much better literacy outcomes. It helps to establish a strong foundation and sets children up for success later.
Evidence-Based Literacy Games: The use of evidence-based literacy games can make learning more fun for young children. When they have a chance to learn in an interactive way, they’re more likely to retain information and develop the literacy skills they need most.
Start Investing Today
As you can see, early grade literacy is too important to ignore. One of the best investments that we can make in improving children’s literacy, which has the potential to yield significant returns, is the implementation of evidence-based learning games like GraphoGame.
GraphoGame is an app that uses Finnish methods of literacy teaching. It allows kids to play at home or at school while having their progress tracked so parents and teachers can become aware of potential problems or bottlenecks.
If your child struggles with reading or if you just want to give them a leg up, GraphoGame makes a great addition to their learning efforts. Check it out today!
Picture source: https://unsplash.com/photos/cwGk-u9PHOo
GraphoGame Norsk was part of the ”On Track” -research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council (FINNUT) aiming to promote research and innovation in education between 2014 and 2018. 1200 children from 17 Norwegian schools participated in the study. After the study GraphoGame Norsk was released as a free app within Norway on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
As part of the agreement the Reading Centre shall continue research in the field of serious gaming in literacy, while the commercialization arm of University of Stavanger, Validé will work with the GraphoGame company to establish a local presence in Norway to maximise the educational value of the application to Norwegian students, teachers and parents.
The first month of the new year is coming to a close, which means one of the first and foremost events in the annual education technology calendar is upon us: Bett Show is kicking off tomorrow at ExCeL exhibition centre in East London!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
What did we get up to in 2018?
English GraphoGame now available
for Windows 10 on Microsoft Education Store.
We are proud to announce that our blog has officially launched!
The 'GraphoBlog' (as we are now calling it) will be one of the major channels of communication with our users, stakeholders and peers in the field of early grade literacy and dyslexia. Our vision is that this space will become a vibrant space for thoughtful discussion and debate around the hot topics surrounding education technology, gameified learning and early literacy research.
What will we be posting about, you might ask?
What will we be posting about, you might ask?