August Links: Articles To Read For Parents and Educators

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Welcome to August Links: Articles to Read, an occasional series. These posts highlight articles focusing on parenting, education, disabilities, topics related to speech language pathology, and anything else helpful to parents and professionals working with children.

This month, you’ll learn how to help toddlers learn new words, get a global perspective on special education, get information on a book on my to-read list (and maybe it’ll go on yours too!), and how to help children when they feel like giving up.  Read on for the links!

1 | Background Noise May Negatively Impact Vocabulary of Toddlers

This was a fascinating article. Typically, we consider some background noise (like classical music or white noise) helpful. This type of noise can sometimes help children focus and improve academic performance.

However, background noise can sometimes be a detriment. Some noise (like loud talking, TV or radio noise) can negatively impact vocabulary growth.

“Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words corresponded to may help children master new vocabulary,” suggests Jenny Saffran, College of Letters & Science Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who coauthored the study. “But when the environment is noisy, drawing young children’s attention to the sounds of the new word may help them compensate.”

2 | The Mis-Education – And Remarkable Triumph – of Georgina Mamba

This article offers a global perspective on special education.

This link profiles Georgina Mamba, who contracted polio at the age of two, losing the use of her lower limbs. Ms. Mamba describes her childhood classrooms, and how those experiences influenced her beliefs on education and accessibility.

“For someone like myself, who’s in a wheelchair, yes let the building be accessible so I can get into the room. But also, when I come into the room, see me. See me for my strengths. Accept my limitations. But focus on my potential.” Georgina Mamba

3: L Is For Learning: A New Book On Proven Approaches And How Teachers Can Use Them
 This book was co-authored by Daniel L. Schwartz, dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. The ABCs of How We Learn travels through the alphabet (A through Z), to discuss digestible suggestions for encouraging learning and exploration for children in K-12 education.

This book is now on my to-read list. This interview highlights several topics personally important to my own education philosophy: learning through imaginative play, learning something new by teaching it to someone else, and capturing student’s interests to motivate and inspire.


4 | Transforming Learned Helplessness

Sometimes, children seem to give up on a task before it has begun. Some children come to school with the baggage of past negative experiences.

I’ve had clients who say “It’s too hard,” “I can’t do it,” or who hide their faces and cry when presented with a new activity. Let’s take an example child, Susan.

Susan has a difficult time in school. Susan is one year behind in her academics, but she is making good gains. She is often presented with materials in class she finds too challenging. Susan tells her teachers that she has been wrong so many times, she would rather not try. This is heartbreaking for Susan’s parents and teachers, who know she is capable of so much more than she gives herself credit for.

I have worked with many clients like Susan. This situation is especially challenging when a task is presented that you just know a child can do.

So, what should we do? This article outlines actionable ideas for getting started. I personally look forward to practicing some of these suggestions for a few children I’m working with.

I particularly enjoyed the article’s reference to the growth mindset. This idea is from Carol Dweck and is outlined in her book Mindset. The growth mindset suggests that as we work on more difficult tasks, our brains get better at doing that task.  I read this book last year, and find it applicable to my daily interactions with clients. By explaining to children that their brains are growing as they try harder tasks, children feel in control of the task and are more willing to try something new.


I hope this post has given you some ideas and resources. I’ve enjoyed bookmarking interesting articles to share with you for this post.  Hopefully these links offer you some new ideas, inspiration, and new perspectives. I’ll be sharing the #2 article with a few coworkers this week, and I’ve already put #3 in my Amazon cart. I hope you find some gems and some inspiration in this list as well!