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Bilingual babies ‘learn languages faster’

The Straits Times – Amelia Teng

“Babies exposed to two languages at the same time can master the rules of each language faster than monolingual babies, a new study by National University of Singapore (NUS) psychologists has found. They are able to differentiate between English and Chinese, and hearing both languages in their first year does not confuse them…The study’s findings are reassuring for parents concerned that exposing their infants to two languages would confuse them, or delay development in one language, said Prof Singh. The study found that bilingual babies have a six-month head start compared with their monolingual peers…”(more)

Just 20 More Minutes Of Sleep Could Boost Your Kids’ Grades

The Huffington Post – Sarah DiGiulio

“Here’s one more reason kids’ bedtimes matter so much. A new study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that teaching kids about the importance of sleep allowed them to get nearly 20 minutes more of it per night. What’s more, to the researchers’ surprise, that extra 20 minutes in bed yielded higher grades in both math and English on students’ report cards. According to its author, this study sends a clear message to parents to prioritize their kids’ sleep. “Sleep should not be negotiated every night, and there should be a consistent bedtime every night. Teach kids that sleep is a priority,” advised psychologist Reut Gruber, director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and associate professor in faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal. “Make sure kids go to bed at a time that allows them sufficient sleep duration, even in the presence of competing activities and priorities,” she added.”(more)

‘Tough’ tests are needed to encourage ‘beautiful command of English’, says minister

The Telegraph – Javier Espinoza

“Tough new tests for primary school children are needed because correct grammar use and a “beautiful command of English” shouldn’t just be the preserve of the middle classes, the schools minister has said. Nick Gibb defended tough tests for 11-year-olds as he admitted he’d seen an exam question he got wrong live on air. Mr Gibb also said young graduates should be promoted to become heads of schools to tackle the recruitment crisis. Addressing head teachers at an education conference at Brighton College, Mr Gibb said rigorous testing was important, especially for children who do not live in homes where books are a part of daily life. He said children would be helped by tough tests in areas including spelling, punctuation and grammar.”(more)

Is your child hopeless at spelling? Don’t panic…

The Telegraph – Tom Payne

“There are many strategies for developing confidence with spelling. One is, start early. Do everything you can to encourage reading in the home – in this way, many children will develop an eye for what looks right and what looks wrong. However counter-intuitive it seems to pronounce “friend” the way we do, we become used to it. That’s something to try on everyone, but children do learn in a big range of ways. Plenty find that parts of the body other than the eyes are helpful.”(more)

Literature’s Emotional Lessons

The Atlantic – Andrew Simmons

“In my experience teaching and observing other teachers, students spend a lot of time learning academic skills and rarely even talk about the emotional reactions they may have to what they read—even when stories, as they often do, address dark themes. The Common Core Standards push students to become clinical crafters of arguments and masters of academic language. While these are essential skills to possess, the fact that my other students appear perfectly comfortable not acknowledging and discussing emotional responses to literature may be as revelatory as this one student’s teary dash from class. Inundated with video games, movies, and memes, teenagers often seem hard to shake up. Characters are fictitious abstractions, and, without actors to bring them to life and makeup and digital tricks to make the drama feel real, students may strictly do the analytical work teachers expect without the interference of a significant emotional response. That’s a bad thing. An emotional response should be part of the curriculum.”(more)