Why Math and Reading Skills Usually (But Don’t Always) Go Hand-In-Hand

Image: Flickr/John Flannery cc license

In elementary school the kids in the “redbird” and “bluebird” reading groups tended to be grouped together for math too. Why is that? Why do math and reading ability go hand-in-hand? And why do some kids break this mold to excel in only one? Continue reading

Linear Explanations Make You Your Child’s Oracle of Information


The quality of the explanations you offer to your children will influence their perception of your credibility. Not only that, but your explanations will influence how likely your kids are to ask you for explanations in the future. Continue reading

How to Trick a Child Into Playing the Violin (or Other Boring Things)


In this age of Candy Crush and YouTube fail compilations, science shows how to encourage a 7-year-old to stick with his violin teacher’s insistence on months spent perfecting the perfect hand and bow position (and other boring things). Continue reading

Creativity in the Membrane, Creativity in the Brain


Researcher: “Cultivation of the basic personality features of openness to experience in children and adolescents may increase an individual’s trait creativity and, thereby, facilitate divergent thinking and creative achievement.” Continue reading

Shyness Study Predicts How Kids Respond to Challenging Social Situations


When excluded from a game, 12.6% of kids were directly assertive, insisting to be included. But 42.5% passively withdrew. But it wasn’t simply shy kids that pulled away. The difference was largely something called “cognitive conflict” as measured by a hairnet of electrodes. Continue reading

Study: If You Want Math and Reading Success, Teach Planning Skills

The Tower of Hanoi via Flickr/lilszeto

Remember the Tower of Hanoi — that game with discs and pegs? Well it requires planning, specifically the ability to see that you have to move away from your goal so that you can eventually move toward it. A study in the journal Child Development shows that kids’ Tower of Hanoi ability is a better predictor of math and reading success than socioeconomic status or anything else. And that training this important skill of planning may help disadvantaged kids catch up. Continue reading

Study: Quality and Not Quantity of Parents’ Words Teaches Vocabulary

"What do you read, my lord?" Words, words, words. Image: Flickr/HaraldGroven

The number of words a child knows when he or she enters kindergarten is an astoundingly good predictor of how well they’ll do in school and even how they will much later do in the workplace. A study from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that it’s quality and not quantity of speech that teaches vocabulary. If your speech matches your actions and the surrounding context, kids learn your words — if not, it’s just talk. Continue reading

Study: The Nature and Nurture of Kids’ Reading Development

This is exactly what happens at my house. You know, when we're not playing video games or watching TV. Image: Flickr/ThomasLife

A new study in the journal Child Development shows that after kindergarten, the learning trajectories of the best readers tend to flatten and the trajectories of the worst readers tend to climb. Blame genetics? Blame school? You be the judge, but in either case, parenting practices play second fiddle. Continue reading

Easter Bunny Science: Studies Show How Kids Sort Fantasy From Reality


Contrary to popular misconception, kids start as skeptics, then parents and culture trick kids into belief, and then canny kids find disbelief. But what of the kids who continue to believe in dragons into the middle grades? Are these fantasy kids slow? Are they dumb? Studies suggest the opposite: it takes a nimble mind to buffer belief from the whisperings of reality and the evidence of doubters. Continue reading

iPads Are Not a Miracle for Children With Autism (GeekDad Weekly Rewind)

It is a provocative statement given the hype, but: The iPad is not a “miracle device” for children with autism. The iPad has received evangelical coverage in the media and blogosphere, especially when it comes to autism. Parents have flocked … Continue reading