Infants are born with the ability to hear and understands the sounds (phonemes) of all languages throughout the world.  After about 8 months of age, they begin to lose this ability and solely discriminate the sounds of the language or languages they hear most often.

Young children who begin to learn English around ages 3 or 4 called Sequential Dual Language Learners often need more support to help them learn to discriminate phonemes in English words. This is especially true when the sounds or phonemes do not change the meaning of the word in their home language. For example, Japanese speakers of English, often do not distinguish the /l/ and /r/ when speaking English because these sounds are not phonemic in Japanese.  That is, they do not change the meaning of the word as these phonemes do in English. Another phoneme that may be challenging for Dual Language Learners is the /th/ sound. This sound occurs in only a few languages other than English such as in Arabic and Icelandic languages.  In English,

words contain voiced /th/ sounds such as the or weather an unvoiced /th/ sounds like with or bath.  A word such as bathe contains a voiced /th/.  Building phonological awareness skills using the hierarchy provided in the GELDS is critical. This process begins with the development of listening skills.  Young children need to learn to discriminate sounds long before they learn to read them in words. Be sure to follow the Phonological Awareness Continuum as outlined in CLL6: The child will develop early phonological awareness (Awareness of the units of sound).  Select activities from the Teacher Toolbox for

Indicator CLL6.4 which focus on differentiating sounds that are the same and different.

This is the second of four posts in a series submitted by Linda Snead-Sanders. Stay tuned for more on dual language learners!

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The Critical Role that Families of Dual Language Learners Play in Supporting their Child’s Education

Dual Language Learners are living in a world where gaining knowledge of multiple languages and multiple cultures happens daily.

Research has demonstrated that including families of Dual Language Learners in their child’s education is invaluable.

Get to know the child and his family in order to paint a more accurate picture of the child’s abilities. Understanding how language is used at home is an important factor in learning about family values.  Does the family only speak the home language? Does the family believe that it will limit the child by not immersing him in the American culture?

Help parents to understand that it is important that their child develop concepts in their home language both in and outside of school and that this development builds a stronger foundation for learning the English language.

This is the first of four posts in a series submitted by Linda Snead-Sanders. Stay tuned for more on dual language learners!

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Great Websites for Kids

In last week’s post, I shared two websites to assist you with selecting and evaluating apps for use with young children.  This week, let’s take a look at a similar website that will help accomplish the same thing but for websites for children.

Great Websites for Kids is sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Childrena division of the American Library Association.  “

Great Websites for Kids is a compilation of exemplary websites geared to children from birth to age 14. Suggested sites are evaluated by the Great Websites for Kids Committee using established selection criteria. Newly evaluated and accepted sites are added to the database three times a year. The committee also reviews all sites within the database twice a year to guarantee sites are still relevant, appropriate and accessible.”

Check out Great Websites for Kids here.

ALSC also maintains a similar website for parents, caregivers, and teachers, which you can find here.

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Choosing the Best Apps for Young Children

Finding the best educational apps for young children can be a challenge.  On the Apple App Store, approximately 80% of paid apps are tagged as “educational”, and about half of those are designed for children under age 5.

How can a parent or teacher separate the better ones from the merely good?  Multiple websites provide app reviews of apps and other media for children and can be a good beginning point when selecting and evaluating digital media tools.  Take a look at the sites listed below.  Remember, though, that while the reviews are helpful, parents and educators should still explore the app or tool and determine if it is the best fit for the children in their care.

Tech with Kids – A digital magazine that reviews children’s media products, including apps, games, websites, and tech toys. All products are tested by our professional reviewers and, when appropriate, played by kids.  Tech with Kids doesn’t accept any remuneration for reviewing products and app developers cannot buy their way to the top of their reviewing queue.

Common Sense Media – A nonprofit with a strong commitment to an unbiased, in-depth editorial process. The ratings and reviews of edtech are not influenced by developers or funders, and they never receive payments or other compensation for reviewing any tools.

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“Look for the Helpers”

In the words of Fred Rogers,”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

This message from Fred Rogers is an important one to keep in mind.  It seems that every time we tune into the news that we learn about another tragic event, events that young children should not be exposed to.  Unfortunately, it’s not possible to protect our children from everything, but we can reassure them that they are safe when they see or hear about scary things in the media.

First, we can remind them of the idea from Mr. Rogers.  Point out to them the people who are helping to make the situation better: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, or even the neighbor next door who volunteers to collects donations for the victims of the tragic event.

For other tips for keeping children safe from the scary images in the media, take a look at this post from the Erikson  (TEC) Technology in Early Childhood Center: Keeping children safe from scary images on screens.

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