By Sanne Rothman | Categories All | Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Family | Games | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Parents | Reading | Reading Instruction | Results | Social Emotional Learning | June 4, 2021

We want our kids to reach for the stars, dream big, think for themselves and grow up with a life and career that they happily built. But how when the winding path to achieve such goals involves so many variables and, sometimes, challenges that may be out of our control? Well, there is a way, and the path is actually straight forward. I’ve walked it myself with the many students I’ve had the honor of teaching. It’s a ticket that our children can take anywhere and it opens all doors no matter the variables. It’s Reading to be a Critical Thinker.

In education, all roads converge with Reading. Reading is key to becoming a Critical Thinker. And Critical Thinkers reach whatever stars they set their eyes on. Simple Reading strategies to obtain Critical Thinking Skills are easy and exciting.

The technical definition of Critical Thinking is to utilize data, decipher fact from fiction, gather information to synthesize, reflect and find resolution. Because our kiddos are not quite ready to knock out a dissertation, it’s easy to swat the entire concept away. After all, we want them to enjoy reading. Not to fret. The real-world, enjoyable, application of Critical Thinking that I teach is much smoother: Emphasize conversation not curriculum.

Two simple strategies reap indispensable rewards:

  1. Set a comfortable reading routine; 20-30 minutes daily and if the child wants to read longer, then great. However, never allow reading to be a chore or punishment.
  2. Check in with your child by asking about what they read; a 5-10 minute conversation twice a week can accomplish this and when you can do more, then great.

Yet, there isn’t always time to read every word your child read. So how will you know what to ask? Simply ask anchor questions like the examples below and keep the conversation lighthearted. When a child has this consistent interaction, they naturally find deeper meaning as they connect to the story and build a greater awareness of the world around them.

 

Ask about any fiction book:

 

Ask about any nonfiction book:

 

Playing an active role in a child’s reading is nothing less than exceptional. Encourage them and you will engage them. Have fun involving your child in book selections, yet also expand their palette by seeking a variety of fiction and nonfiction. Soon, it will be second nature for your extraordinary child to read beyond the page. Critical Thinkers are lifelong learners, reflective, more responsible, innovators and their opportunities are plenty. They pave their own road ahead and won’t just reach for the stars, they will probably find and name a few new ones. So begin sharing the joy of reading today.

Sanne Rothman engagement

Discover More




By Dr. Karla Manning | Categories All | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Community | Engagement - Family | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Social Emotional Learning | May 21, 2021

Early Childhood Education is a vital foundation for children of tender age. Not only are they introduced to various experiences, but they are also taught how to form and maintain positive social relationships, a sense of belonging, and developing specific skills to reach their full potential.

We see regular acts of racism, sexism, and prejudice being displayed among people of all ages in society. The need for greater diversity, inclusion, and equity is becoming more evident, from videos we see on social media to news headlines.

Raising a tolerant, accepting, fair and empathetic child should start from an early age. Incorporating equity and inclusion into the early childhood curriculum is one of the best ways to do this.

Equity is simply displaying the quality of being fair and impartial. On the other hand, inclusion is incorporating people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.

Educators incorporating equity and inclusion in the classroom will help them to combat prejudice and racial discord by supporting positive behaviors among students, fostering a sense of belonging for all students and their families, and teaching respect for everyone.

How Do Children Benefit from Incorporating Inclusion and Equity in Early Childhood Curriculum?

The benefits of inclusion and equity are numerous for all children. Schools including these vital lessons into their curriculum can help children to reach their developmental potential. We have compiled a list of some of the many benefits of successfully incorporating inclusion and equity.

 

How Can your School Incorporate Inclusion and Equity in Early Childhood Curriculums?

It is no secret that children are more comfortable, grounded, and able to learn more when their school, classmates, and instructors respect their diversity.

Strategies that schools can use to successfully incorporate and promote inclusion and equity in early childhood curriculums include:

Use a multi-tiered system of support

Using this strategy involves Collaborating with early childhood special educators and other allied education and health professionals when needed. Facilitate each professional establishing a relationship with each child to maximize potential.

Provide high-quality early childhood learning resources that demonstrate a commitment to equitable outcomes for all children.

Schools can arrange budgets within their means to equitably meet the needs of children and staff. Recognize that high-quality programs will positively reflect the values, beliefs, and practices of specific children, families, and communities.

Develop opportunities for multiple voices with different perspectives to participate in decision-making.

Recognize that unspoken biases have often resulted in limited opportunities for members of marginalized groups.

Prepare current and prospective early childhood educators to provide equitable learning opportunities to all children.

Schools can ensure that educators understand the historical and systemic issues that have created structural inequities in society, including in early childhood education.

Involve children, families, and the community in the design and implementation of learning activities.

Involving children, families, and the community in learning activities will help children to embrace the idea of inclusion and equity. This will also help to build a sense of belonging with those involved.

Introducing and incorporating equity and inclusion into early childhood curriculums will benefit children and the instructors, family, and the wider community. This strategy will also help build a better future where people will practice more accepting and respectful lifestyles.

Discover More




By Dr. Corey Hall | Categories All | Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Events | Games | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Reading Instruction | Social Emotional Learning | STEM | Writing | May 14, 2021

When it comes to STEM and literacy, one can’t exist without the other. STEM teachers emphasize the Engineering Design Process and computational thinking, as well as technology tools. But the work of engineers and scientists goes much further than the traditional STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math. They are also communicators, collaborators, writers, readers, and global citizens.

“The work of engineers also involves collaboration, communication, global citizenship, and literacy skills.” – Jorge Valenzuela, education coach and author.

STEM initiatives abound, from the Department of Education to the National Science Foundation. And for good reason; recent studies show a correlation between early STEM experiences and success in school in later grades [1]. Also, exposure to STEM relates to more students pursuing careers in STEM fields (an important factor in global competitiveness). Probably most importantly, STEM comes naturally to most children. Experimentation, problem-solving, and creativity are traits we see when we watch kids at play.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics put out a joint statement detailing the importance of STEM in elementary, and even pre-school education [2]. The American Association of School Librarians and the International Society for Technology in Education both integrate information literacy standards that include STEM learning.

 

Standard #3, ISTE Standards for Students

 

 

 

Explore Foundation, AASL Standards Framework

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Integrate Literacy and STEM

The  Common Core State Standards (CCSS) indicate for K-5 students, there should be a 50-50 balance between nonfiction information texts and fiction. STEM and English Language Arts teachers can communicate and collaborate so that the standards are implemented across the curriculum. Interdisciplinary units can be developed and co-taught so that skills are reinforced in multiple ways.

Fiction + STEM

Work with your English Language Arts teacher or school librarian to find a high-interest novel that connects to your content. You can also find recommendations on the School Library Journal Website. Here are a few ideas:

 

Nonfiction + STEM

Whether you are reading them aloud or providing independent reading time, nonfiction texts are a great way to integrate literacy into your STEM classroom.

 

Speaking + Presenting

Speaking and listening are Common Core Standards and are also life skills needed in all occupations, including STEM careers. Here are a few ideas:

 

Regardless of which strategies you choose, integrating literacy and STEM will strengthen your curriculum and improve teaching and learning.

References

[1] McClure et. al; https://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/jgcc_stemstartsearly_final.pdf

[2] NAEYC https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/position-statements/psmath.pdf

Discover More




By Lois Letchford | Categories All | Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Educators | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Learning Loss | Listening | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Reading Instruction | Social Emotional Learning | Writing | April 30, 2021

In 1994, my 6-year-old son Nicholas failed first grade. Testing revealed he could read ten words, showed no strengths, and had a low IQ. The prognosis was dire, his future bleak. Finally, the diagnostician called him: “The worst child I’ve seen in twenty years of teaching.”

I had the option to remove my son from school for six short months.  Teaching him myself, I began by using a recommended standardized set of books, titled Success for All. Their focus was on decoding of isolated words. They too, were an abject failure. Nicholas appeared to have no memory for letters, sounds, or words.

It was at this point, I was given some unforgettable advice from my mother-in-law: “Lois,” she said, “make learning fun.” Now I have no books and a son to teach. I felt totally responsible for his learning. Having a blank slate forced me to examine my son’s learning. What can he do? Does he have strengths? I recalled some previous successful learning activities. He can see patterns and he can rhyme words.

Poetry. Write a poem. But I don’t write. I, too, am dyslexic. Despite this being an enormous challenge for me, I felt pushed – no, driven to try something—anything.

Putting rhyming words together into a simple poem was easier than I imagined. The act of writing a poem transformed our little classroom, as I read the poem to him. Nicholas laughed. We found more rhyming words, illustrated the poem, and finally, he recited the poems from memory to his family.

Every day, I had a new poem waiting for Nicholas. He blossomed. Instead of panicking about learning, he recalled the words in the poems. Poetry provided a cocoon for letters and sounds. Illustrating the poems engaged us in multi-sensory activities and in reciting and performing words as we searched for deeper meanings.

But it was the poem to learn the oo sounds as in book, look, and cook which metamorphosed our learning. Instead of talking about cooking, I wrote about Captain James Cook, one of the last great explorers. Through poetry, we explored the changing map of the world to which Cook contributed greatly.

Nicholas asked:

“Who came before Captain Cook?”

“Who came before Christopher Columbus?”

His questions stumped me. I could not answer many of them and I thought these were not the questions that come from a child with a “low IQ.” Using my son’s learning, I became a literacy specialist, teaching children who failed to learn to read in normal settings. I developed the knowledge and skills to turn around children’s lives.

What can parents do?

  1. Turn fictional texts (books or short stories) into plays or dramas. Why? The child is connecting the text with actions. Book language varies from oral language. By re-writing the story, the child is now the “author” and can change the words in the text to use their words.
  2. Read and recite poems. Poetry is the foundation for phonemic awareness. (Phonemic awareness is the ability to play with letters and sounds.) Building on rhyming poetry, the parent enables the student to hear the rhyming words and sounds.
  3. Sing and enjoy songs, rhymes, & limericks. Use the beat and the words to engage the child with words and actions.
  4. Show language as “dynamic.”  Find, read, and tell jokes and riddles. Jokes and riddles often depend upon wordplay. Many students with learning disabilities see the world “concretely.” They struggle with the abstract nature of language. Enjoy the language and wordplay and teach children how to “look” for additional meanings.
  5. Use audiobooks! Audiobooks or reading to a child is the most powerful way to engage the child in literature.
  6. Above all, enjoy learning. Make it a game. Find time to enjoy learning together. When children “fall in love” with books and learning, it becomes an activity they want to do. That’s when learning happens.

Discover More




By Ann (Ana) Morris | Categories All | Book Deserts | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Reading Instruction | Summer Reading | Writing | April 23, 2021

All children like to read things they can relate to or that make them feel good. And the best children’s stories I “read” were those on the laps of my parents.

In order to write books for children of a different mold than our own, we need to know them. I grew up in a homogeneous environment. When my junior high social studies teacher inadvertently opened my eyes to the fact that youth around the world had many things in common, my interest was sparked.
My first goal achieved was learning the importance of communication. Not only in English, but in Spanish. I lived and studied in Spain, where I achieved fluency. It has served me well!
I taught Spanish and used Spanish language children’s books as motivators for my students.

I worked for the employment/unemployment office in Iowa’s capital. We had many Latino clients. I did much translating and interpreting to help communicate a concept difficult for many people in their native language.

Aside from this, I had many stories in my memory that I wanted to share with children and those reading to them. That is where my dream launched.

I wrote my first picture book, Mommy and Mikel Go for a Walk. It was a memory from the mid-1980s with my son Mikel. After writing it in English, I decided to tell it in Spanish, too. Working with many Latinos in the USA has taught me that Spanish in Spain is not the same as Spanish in the rest of the world. I was glad to know alternative words to use that would be more neutral help me communicate better.

I learned that not only native language readers liked each language, but learners of the other language.

My second book, Surprise in Auntie’s Garden! made me pause. I am blonde, as is most of my family. Many young people would not relate to blonde people in every book. I decided to use different race and ethnic characters in each book to include other young readers and parents. This time I used Latinas as the characters. My messages are universal, so this merely allowed different readers to see themselves in my books.

My first three books were published in pairs. One in English and the other in Spanish. I had requests to try publishing the stories as bilingual stories to include both languages in one book. I did this with Do It Again! and Lexi’s Special Tooth Fairy Pillow. The reception was wonderful.

During this time of writing, I also began working with Royal Promise, a mission that works with underprivileged children in Anun-Asikuma, Ghana, West Africa. This opened the door even wider. My new friends and the students loved my stories because they knew me and were eager for new literature. I feel very connected to them and feel the need to assist with their literacy opportunities.

It is important to include many aspects of childhood in the characters as well as the stories. Literacy is important to all people and gives them the confidence and initiative to seek and achieve new and unforeseen goals in life. Invest in our future and include everyone, at home and abroad.

Discover More




By Valarie Pearce, MEd | Categories All | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Community | Engagement - Family | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Results | Social Emotional Learning | Writing | April 16, 2021

How reading helps children learn social emotional skills

I am a lover of all things book and the written word. As a child, I was precocious and very curious. Thankfully, my father had a great passion for reading and ensured that I, along with my siblings, understood the importance of literacy and that it was something never to be taken for granted. “Many of our ancestors gave their lives for the right to read,” my father would often preach. I wanted to know what he was talking about. Why and how could this happen? In addition, my brain was alive with princesses, dragons, and secret gardens I got to meet often through what remains one of my greatest and most enduring loves, books.

Much of my advanced vocabulary, ability to articulate my thoughts and feelings, empathy for others, and sharp view of the world around me was a direct result of the abundance of books afforded me. I was a proud card-carrying member of the library! I loved checking out Puff the Magic Dragon with its accompanying record tucked in the back (yes, I am proudly dating myself), The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

These books and many others whisked this little Black girl from small city Portland, Oregon to unknown lands of epic trials and triumphs. The ability to read, write, comprehend, and decode the written word was just the beginning. The pure enjoyment of reading was the vehicle that aided me and will ultimately do so for our students today; expanding their minds to the immeasurable possibilities for connection with each other and the world around them.

As the Director of Content Development for Friendzy, a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program for K-8 students, I continue my literacy evangelizing. After all, I am the daughter of a preacher! Research has shown that reading supports SEL. At Friendzy we frame our SEL literacy supports through five distinct frameworks:

  1. Learning social-emotional skills.

    Reading helps children gain a greater understanding of emotions, which can help them understand their own emotions and those of others.

  2. Develop empathy.

    Reading a story creates space for kids to imagine themselves inside the story. This allows them to develop empathy as they experience the lives of other characters and can identify with how they are feeling.

  3. Practice perspective-taking.

    Reading allows children to learn about a wide array of people, places, and events that they may not otherwise experience.

  4. Improve cognitive development.

    Reading provides children with a deeper understanding of the world and fills their brains with a wide range of knowledge. They then use this acquired knowledge to make sense of what they see, hear and read.

  5. Builds relationships and connections.

    Reading brings a classroom of students together for a shared adventure. It  also provides parents with an opportunity to have dedicated time with their children. Reading together provides kids with feelings of connection, attention and is nourishing to the soul.

These key components shift the literacy lens from simply learning to read to reading to learn with great enthusiasm. As an author and educator, I tell my students and the students I meet at school visits when you open up a book, you open up the world. I was given this gift early on and my job is to pay it forward!


For more information about Kids Read Now, contact us.

Discover More




By Rachel Benedict | Categories All | Engagement - Family | Games | K-5 Literacy | Parents | Reading | March 19, 2021

Reading time can be fun time too!

Learning to read opens different worlds to children – fantasy, mystery, funny, history – but it can also help them understand the things around them in everyday life that maybe they never thought to notice before. Here are four fun ways to incorporate reading into everyday activities!

  1. Cereal boxes, labels, and cooking instructions

Whether you’re sitting down for breakfast in the morning with the cereal box on the table, preparing dinner with lots of different ingredients, or baking a delicious dessert from a scratch, ask your child to identify words on the boxes, labels, and in cookbooks. Sure, some ingredients are difficult for even the most proficient adult to pronounce, but most packaged foods have easy-to-read packaging and recipes help teach new words while sequencing different steps together.

  1. Street signs

Kids so often know how to get to their favorite places (school, grandma’s house, the park), but may not be paying attention to the signs on the way there. Ask them to and help them read the street and informational signs on the way to your next destination. Instead of turning left at the big tree, soon you’ll be turning left at the stop sign on Maple Street. This is also a great way for kids to learn short abbreviations such as Rd for road, St for street, and Blvd for boulevard. You can also take time to talk about the meaning of potentially new words like yield, U-turn, roundabout, and dead end. These contextual clues help kids remember the words by building on schematic theory.

  1. I-Spy

Especially on longer trips, ask children to look out the window and choose any object they see. They can then say, “I spy something that starts with the letter ‘C’!”. Start naming things around you that begin with the letter they choose. In this case, “corn”, “cow”, and “clouds” could be what they’re spying! Who knows, maybe they’ve spied something that you’ve never noticed! Take turns spying and guessing. Not only is this a fun game to increase family engagement, phonetic understanding, to pass time during car rides, but it helps kids identify the first letter of familiar sights!

  1. Closed captioning

Many enjoy a little screen time every day, so turn screen time into reading time by simply turning on the closed captioning. There are many benefits to closed captioning, and your kids may not even realize they’re learning while enjoying the show. Closed captioning is completely free and oftentimes comes in several different languages if you’re wanting to really spice up screen time. With technological advances, there’s never been an easier time to enjoy and practice reading every day!


If you have any questions about reading every day, please contact us for more information.

Discover More




By Kristin Patrick | Categories All | Challenges | Critical Thinking | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Community | Engagement - Family | Games | K-5 Literacy | Reading | March 12, 2021

Here are 3 easy ways to keep reading social while social distancing

The cancellation of events has left everyone disappointed at points throughout the past year, and that list of most missed gatherings looks a little different for everyone. For me, it has been the cancellation of two fundraising luncheons that annually bring together authors and readers. I’m what you might call an extroverted reader. By looking at the number of books I consume each year, it’s clear that I value alone time to read and recharge. On the flip side, I have a big appetite for talking with others about what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read. Since gathering with reader friends for discussion hasn’t been an option, I’ve been relying on technology to satisfy my need to connect with other readers.

Here are three ways that I’ve been able to keep reading social while social distancing. All the strategies below would work for any grownup committed to modeling the life of a reader for the young people in their lives — teachers, librarians, coaches, school administrators, literacy advocates, and parents. Talking about books is what readers do!

Participate in local International Literacy Association (ILA) or National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) affiliate events

ILA and NCTE, like other professional associations, have pivoted to virtual programming through the pandemic. I’ve enjoyed keeping on top of new titles, learning about emerging writers, and making new reader friends through various web events that both ILA and NCTE affiliates have hosted. Most of these events have been free, and even if you can’t be present for a live event you can typically sign up to view the recording later.

Commit to Goodreads

I’ve become somewhat of an unpaid ambassador for this social media platform over the years as I’ve pressured countless friends and family members to join. It’s because I’m a believer! With Goodreads, I’m able to quickly assess how reader friends in Chicago and California rated and reviewed the same title. I’m always eager to learn if others loved a book as much as I did or shared the same frustrations. For grownups not interested in Goodreads, start a text message thread with friends you know who prioritize reading. Three local friends and I have text messaged non-stop since the pandemic began. We snap photos of library hold arrivals and coordinate book drop-offs on each others’ front porches. These phone messages have been welcome day brighteners.

Follow favorite authors on social media

Since book tours and author events haven’t been a possibility for the past twelve months, more writers are turning to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to generate interest in their recent publications. I now have the habit of immediately following an author on social media after finishing a book I love. It’s fun to see who in my circles of friends and colleagues is following the same author, and occasionally I’ll tag a writer to share my praise. It’s a thrill to hear back from an admired author or to receive a like on a post. Following authors writers on social media is also a great way to be alerted to upcoming releases.

There will always be something to be said for discussing the latest bestseller or celebrity book club selection over a shared plate of appetizers. Until groups of friends and colleagues can again safely convene in person to talk about books, consider how virtual author events, social media platforms, and text messaging apps can keep readers connected with other readers. There is no reason to not keep reading social while social distancing!

Kids Read Now would like to thank Kristin for her guest blog contribution. If you have any questions about the Kids Read Now in-home reading program, please contact us.

Discover More




By Casey Wente | Categories All | Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Reading | Reading Instruction | Summer Reading | February 26, 2021

Although we don’t generally think about it, every experience we have adds to a repertoire of events that create “us” – our background. The stories we share with friends, the lessons we teach our kids, and the bank of knowledge we use to make decisions in the moment. Everything we encounter adds to this background, called schema, which we use to put new information into meaningful context.

Schema is added to and shaped by new experiences and lessons. Throughout the school years, teachers and parents expose children to new information, adding their own background information to the lessons. It is in this way that many generations of humans have passed down information that is important; although, how we share these stories has evolved over the centuries.

Schema Theory uses open-ended questions to encourage students to use their backgrounds to dissect and comprehend media or a situation. Since this is a blog about reading, lets focus on using Schema Theory with books. As mentioned, you can help activate and build children’s schema by asking them simple, open-ended questions. Often it is easiest for children to focus on the relationships in a story since the ups and downs of a relationship are familiar to them. For example, if you just finished Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you might discuss with your child the following:

“At the end of the story, Charlie wins. What character in another story has to pass a test to see if they are worthy of winning something?”

This is an example of a “text-to-text” comparison question, where one story is used to put another into context. Kids Read Now uses questions written in Schematic Theory as a ready-made guide for parents and educators to expand comprehension of what is being read. Every Kids Read Now selection has 4 questions written at the reading level of the book, called Discovery Questions. Each question uses a different aspect of schema theory to encourage connections.

The first 3 questions are:

The final question Kids Read Now adds to a book’s set of Discovery questions is a creative question. As we look back to our example of Roald Dahl’s classic, we might ask readers to invent 5 rooms in the chocolate factory with different candies, and then have them describe how these candies might get naughty children in trouble. Have them draw these rooms and tell you out loud, so you can ask them questions and have fun!

My final tips on building schema are to celebrate discoveries and help them share what they know! The confidence in their new connections will encourage them to continue to expand and grow!

Discover More




By Casey Wente | Categories All | Challenges | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Family | Games | Journaling | K-5 Literacy | Reading | Results | Summer Reading | Writing | February 19, 2021

During meetings, are you a notetaker? I often find myself scribbling down notes throughout a meeting only to never refer to them again, simply because I remember what is on them. The act of writing down the information helps my brain convert it to long term memory. The same thing happens when children write. Even more importantly, it helps teach their brains HOW to remember. This is called the “Retrieval Effect” and it’s why practice tests work to help you study for the big test in school.

When you write about a topic, it strengthens your memory and helps you make connections and have deeper thoughts about the subject. As you write, and you think about what you want to write, you begin to weigh the importance of different aspects of the topic. Professor Steven Graham of the Arizona State University Teaching College found—after compiling over 56 studies—that writing “reliably enhanced learning” in science, social studies, and math.

When you ask a student to write about a topic, it helps them demonstrate their comprehension on that topic and reveals gaps in their knowledge. Low stakes writing exercises are a great way to allow free flow thinking and encourage those connections to come to the surface. A low stake writing exercise has no right or wrong answer and is not about spelling or grammar. You are just trying out new ideas. When you remove the pressure of being “right”, you encourage students to find their voice and see the value in their ideas. Ask questions like, “What do you notice?” or, “What’s one thing you know and one question you have?” to help develop an inner dialogue.

MyStories is a writing prompt book developed by Kids Read Now as a fun and engaging set of low stakes writing exercises. Each page has a colorful picture and an area for writing. There’s no right or wrong way for students to use these books. It’s the perfect activity to get students’ creative juices flowing. Visit kidsreadnow.org for more tips on engaging with your children through reading and writing!

Discover More