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Sleepovers with stuffed animals help children learn to read

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Sending stuffed animals for a sleepover at the library encourages children to read with them, even long after the sleepover took place, say researchers in a new study in Heliyon. For the first time, the study proves stuffed animal sleepovers are an effective way to get children to read. The results also suggest that stuffed animal sleepover programs may help develop children’s prosocial behavior by encouraging them to read the books the stuffed animals had chosen during their sleepover. The researchers behind the new study, from Okayama University, Kanazawa University, Osaka Institute of Technology and Kyushu University in Japan, say they hope their results support the global spread of this approach, which has a positive effect on children’s reading habits.”(more)

We’d be better at math if the U.S. borrowed these four ideas for training teachers from Finland, Japan and China

The Hechinger Report – Emmanuel Felton

“Why don’t American students really get math? Because their elementary school teachers don’t either, says Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a policy institute that studies what America can learn from the world’s best-performing education systems. Tucker describes a vicious cycle. “We are mainly recruiting teacher candidates from the bottom half of the kids who go to college,” said Tucker. “These kids come out of high school with a very shaky command of high school math and eventually become teachers who can show their students the steps for doing a long division problem, but can’t tell them why it works. So when their students get to high school, they can’t really do algebra either because they don’t understand how the arithmetic works.” In a new report released by NCEE, researcher Ben Jensen looks at what America can learn from how teacher-training institutions in top performing countries prepare elementary school teachers for the classroom. He examined how four systems – Finland, Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong – arm teachers with a rich understanding of the subject areas they will teach and how their future students will learn that content.”(more)

Immersion an effective way to develop kids’ skills

The Japan News – Mikiko Miyakawa and Yomiuri Shimbun

“Since their introduction about four decades ago, language immersion programs have proved highly successful in the United States, as more people there have developed an increased awareness of the importance of learning foreign languages and have recognized immigrant children as important resources in society. As Japan prepares itself for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and globalization beyond, it could also try introducing such programs in more schools to improve children’s proficiency in foreign languages. Located in the picturesque city of Eugene, Ore., Yujin Gakuen has cultivated Japanese language education for children in the city for almost three decades. With Japanese-themed motifs such as cherry blossoms, Mt. Fuji, carp streamers and the rising sun, the huge, colorful mural at the school entrance instantly captures the hearts of everyone who visits the school. “Fourth- and fifth-graders of the school created the artwork last year,” said Izumi Sakimoto, a Japanese parent of Yujin Gakuen students. She moved to Eugene with her American husband so their kids could attend the school.”(more)

The Math Paradox: What Japan Wants to Learn from the West

Ed Surge – Tomoe Hashimoto

“When it comes to teaching math and science, is the grass always greener across the Pacific Ocean? Last July, a team of US students edged out teams from China and South Korea to take first place in the 2015 International Math Olympiad—their first win in 21 years. Japan, considered by many to be a country that is almost naturally good at math, didn’t even place in the competition. In fact, an increasing number of Japanese educators believe that they are in the midst of a math motivation crisis. And they’re looking to the West for pedagogical inspiration. In contrast, the most recent PISA rankings clearly demonstrate that Asian countries have been outperforming Western nations in math over the past decade, with the top seven countries all in Asia—including Japan. As a result, some Western educators have begun to import Asian approaches to learning math.”(more)

Secrets of the world’s healthiest children: 6 longevity lessons from Japan

Today – A. Pawlowski

“The U.S. doesn’t even make the top 10, with an American boy born in 2013 expected to enjoy good health until about age 65 and live 76 years, on average. What is it about Japan that makes it such a center of wellness? It’s a question Naomi Moriyama and her husband William Doyle set out to investigate in their new book, “Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Children: Why Japanese Children Have the Longest, Healthiest Lives — And How Yours Can Too.” “The way Japanese people eat and move gives them a major longevity and health advantage,” Moriyama — who grew up in Japan and is now based in New York — told TODAY. “Compared with other developed nations, Japanese people on average eat fewer calories per day, and in a healthier pattern: more fish, more vegetable products, less meat and dairy, smaller desserts and more reasonable portion sizes.” Here are six lessons from Japan your family can adopt to boost your health:.”(more)