This isn't a trivial point. If you read stories with the intention of fostering skill development you will neither inculcate skills nor get the most out of those stories.
Ha. The idea that there exist professional parents who explictly know what they are doing (with footnotes and sources) is a major conceit in our present culture.
That's absolutely the purpose when you're doing the activity with the child, but there's a decision in the toy shop when you have to choose between Lego and the talking movie-tie-in doll, or between the book and the DVD.
> professional parents
Psychologists or psychiatrists study child development. That's some distance from a "parenting coach", but the coaches probably read the books or study what the psychologists write.
A friend teaches "child development" to 14-16 year olds, in the end they take this  exam. It's fairly basic, it mostly deals with babies and infants, but it seems completely reasonable that there's and evidence-based way of dealing with "daddy, there's a monster under my bed".
 http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/sample-papers-and-mark-schemes/2... (PDF linked from http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/home-economics/gcse/home-econ..., which also has the official answers).
I know plenty of decent people who think it's okay to spank a child when we know full well that it results in kids thinking that violence is a solution to their problems. It took me years to unlearn yelling at people as a solution to my problems. It took me years to not fight every little semblance of stupidity I see. It took me decades to recover from depression induced by a father who still thinks to this day that he was doing the right thing by yelling at me for my every little wrong as a child.
This same ridiculous logic that spawned this frivolous criticism is the same logic that results in people saying "we've gotten along just fine for y years without x; you are being ridiculous for wanting or saying you need x." Feel free to substitute in electricity, clean water, doctors, internet, cars and child labor laws for x. And yes life finds a way despite a lack of technology or understanding but that doesn't mean we can't seriously improve our lives or the lives of our children by using either. If you took a second to look at current child development research you would see how out of your depth you are.
and then we go back to the article and see the reference is to people literally part of the research program.
Yes. I think that, as things stand, good parenting is largely a matter of being lucky enough to have oneself received good parenting, i.e. it's mainly a matter of tradition. This doesn't imply that one shouldn't attempt improvements here and there, some guided by science. My beef is principally with the idea that there's a scientific method to produce better people. Conceiving of people as products rather than as ends-in-themselves.
It's something very hard to optimise for because what a good life is doesn't really have a strong definition. Is it quality of life in objective measurements? Comparative to your peers? To your upbringing? Is it having many itches and being able to scratch some of them? Having few itches and scratching them all? Is there an authenticity component ie in a hypothetical situation where you could matrix yourself and have a better life than your real one would you? Is 'meaning' a thing? Is it still meaningful if you create arbitrary need for 'meaning?
People have different measures but they pretty much all have measures.
Given that acquiring whichever mixed bag of "good life" things you believe in is almost certainly going to require certain modern life skills, I don't see any reason to attribute it to productisation of people. Just parents looking out for their kids interests.
"I want kids, but I wouldn't be a good parent so I won't have any" said nobody ever.
a) Tradition is extremely variable across both time and space, even within the West
b) we have largely moved away from some of the nastier edges of "traditional" parenting, with good reason
c) there has to be a huge number of people who feel they don't want to replicate the upbringing they had and instead want help, who deserve decent resources
d) given that parenting resources exist, it's better to have and use scientifically tested ones than ones that replicate the prejudices of the loudest voices
Corporal punishment, you mean. Yes. However we've regressed in at least one way: many toddlers are now in daycare for 30+ hours per week.
>given that parenting resources exist, it's better to have and use scientifically tested ones than ones that replicate the prejudices of the loudest voices
Well, my original comment was more about how we use resources. But it seems doubtful whether we can scientifically test for how good such resources are, except in terms of narrow criteria like safety. We can't yet look into children's imaginations and measure how fired up they are; we can only try to find out what our children enjoy and help them to do more of it.
Consider the Harry Potter books. They may have done more for literacy than everything else combined since they arrived. Yet the first manuscript was rejected by many publishers, including some who no doubt had access to purportedly scientific advice.
Far better to look at what other families are doing, reading and playing with. And to read reviews online.
If people are doing bad job at keeping themselves and their loved ones well, why not help them with little scientific knowledge?
Why doom them to do only as well as what they learned from their parents allows them to?
In other words, it's not the "why"--it's the "how."
What parent does not want the best for their kids? The question is, how to do that? There are informed answers to that question.
>There are informed answers to that question.
To an extent. There's also lots of contradictory advice that's difficult to verify.
I suspect this only even approaches reality if by “intention” you mean “clumsily projected attitude”.
> The idea that there exist professional parents who explictly know what they are doing (with footnotes and sources) is a major conceit in our present culture.
The idea that parenting isn't a field which can be, and is, productively studied and that there aren't people who can provide useful guidance based on greater knowledge of that study and skill at observing and applying that knowledge is, itself, a major conceit in our present culture.
Nah, just intention. For example, teaching children arithmetic with great moral seriousness, as we do, doesn't produce great arithmeticians. It merely encourages people to become math teachers.
>The idea that parenting isn't a field which can be, and is, productively studied
Trouble is that most of the knowledge is inexplicit and that family life is private. So trying to uncover and understand what's really going on is hard. If you try to study families empirically then you're (a) interfering with their normal activities, and (b) avoiding the fact that morality is independent of outcome. However, from the article, 'coach' suggests people are already giving advice. They think they know the answers.
Interacting with other people is complex and context-sensitive.
Similar with Lego. It’s amazing how much time my kids spend playing Lego, how quiet they are when playing (unless they are fighting over one of the special pieces) and I’m grateful for every minute that it keeps them occupied while I clean the kitchen or whatever.
Interestingly, I bought them a Jenga set a few weeks ago and they spend more time using the wooden bricks to make structures rather than playing the actual game. Maybe there's some instinct that's at work there.
Boys and girls have obvious physical differences, yet it is offensive to even whisper that their brains might be different.
Legos though. Common ground! Almost everyone will get after a pile of legos.
The thing I disliked the most was watching the girls lose interest in some things as social pressure increased on them. Girlie norms. Good for girls, not for boys, kinds of things were in play. Rubbed me the wrong way.
Thing is, some boys are girly, and some girls are boyish. That's OK. Has to be, or we require people to live lies. I sure don't want to do that. How can I require others to do it?
What if it were me? You?
We gotta shake that stuff all off, learn new ideas, new ways for people to better self identify and be good with who they are. We do that so they too can be good with who they are.
As a parent, it was hard to compete with the norms. Was mostly successful, but not to the degree I now feel makes sense. I had help from my kids peers who saw I was open, seeking, just wanting to bring out who I saw developing.
BTW: watching their peers showed me those brain differences aren't just gender driven. Boys and girls, in a general sense, can make these things easy to see.
And people get stuck on all that too. Like they stop right there, when the truth is they should be continuing!
The reality is the kids brains will work differently. A boy who likes to craft and sew happens more often than many understand, just as does the girl who likes to build, take it apart, or race. We tend to celebrate the latter, when we should just celebrate new people, our future.
That's where we need to get to, if you ask me. Let the kids present as who they are, and we can then seek to understand with them and maximize that with and for them.
Many young people today get this cold. A whole lot of norms we struggle with today are going to change for the better. It's a good thing, but will likely continue to be kind of rough for a while yet.
All, FWIW, just observations from the school of hard knocks. :D
They both enjoy making stuff but it's very different. My daughter gets a kick out of making intricate stuff (everything from common household objects like a toothbrush to things more elaborate like a multi shelf cupboard). My son mostly make elaborate planes and cars. He figures out some "technology" (like swinging door or hinge) and then all the things he makes uses that.
American culture puts so much stress on young kids these days. While I’m still an undergraduate, I see my sister who is about to graduate high school make dark jokes about going to college and her life but it seems there is some truth there.
If or when I become a parent, I’m going to teach inner cultivation rather than productivity, etc. I.e. “Do whatever you please, pal. I got your back.”
It’s just the whole social order seems very toxic and I don’t want that for young kids growing up. I argue that it’s the way we are raised and taught that we become so anxious, etc. We worry that we if we aren’t accumulating skills for the workforce or whatever, we are wasting our time. No, man. Play video games for the sake of playing video games. When did we become so anxious about doing the latter?
I didn't realise the danger of it until someone pointed out the waste, if you're going to relax then just relax!
As a recent father I'm going to teach my daughter financial planning and responsibility so she can provide for herself but otherwise that she can take her life in any which direction and that money is the not the answer.
I will do my best to be your child’s teacher and teach them and be a positive influence in their life, but I am definitely not their parent.
So much of being a parent is saying no, and having clear consequences when behavior is inappropriate. I can feel my pre frontal cortex getting exhausted when I watch my children, it's just so clear that theirs has yet to develop, and I need to be their behavior regulator.
That is, they follow their kids around closely, telling them what to do or not to do 200 times an hour, and not letting the children try anything for themselves. «Don’t climb down those steps. Don’t climb up the slide. Don’t run. Don’t pick up those rocks. That candy wrapper is trash don’t pick it up. Don’t put the stick in your mouth. Don’t step in that puddle. Stay far away from that dog poop. Stay on the path. Don’t kick that ball. Don’t borrow that toy, it’s not yours. Share your toy with the baby. Oh you fell down you’re okay you’re okay. Oh someone took your toy you’re okay you’re okay. Eat this or you won’t get that. We need to leave now, get in the cart.» And on and on. For the kids’ sake I wish the parents would just shut up and let them explore sometimes, and would explain their boundaries instead of just saying “no” to everything.
The poor kids then get scooped up and carted around in little strollers, often with their vision obscured by a canopy, strapped in, not interacting with the world or with people and with no personal autonomy. They then get transferred to a car seat, again strapped in and bored to tears as they are driven around town unable to see or interact with anything. The modern suburban lifestyle is terrible for small children.
The job of parents is not to shield their children from any and all stimulus because some of it might carry minor risks or be a minor inconvenience to someone else, but to help them get as much meaningful feedback as possible from their environment while not getting grievously injured. Parents should interact with their children all they want if that interaction comes in the form of talking to them, playing games, dancing around together, running up a hill, reading stories, building things, etc., but when the interaction consists largely of the parents exercising control over the children (and in my experience often otherwise glued to their phone screens), it’s really sad.
I'm British, but I live in Denmark.
It's excruciatingly easy to spot some (most?) British families, because of the way they treat their children. "Don't do that" "stay here" "don't touch that".
Danish parents seem much more willing to let the child follow along in the general direction, poking whatever and stamping in the puddles.
There was one interesting design paradigm I noticed that I think is reflective of a difference in parenting cultures.
On the all the Danish play structures we played on, all of the elements where a kid could fall more than a few feet were in areas of the structure that required a sufficient level of coordination to reach, like climbing a ladder or using climbing holes in a wall. Less coordinated kids were stuck at the lower levels of the structure where there was fun stuff to do for younger kids.
This thoughtful design allowed us to sit far away from our kid while he played knowing that the structure was designed to scale the risk with his capability.
Here at home, my toddler could climb to the top of many climbing structures using regular steps, and fall six feet down to the ground through the open doorways where you might find a ladder to climb up or a pole to slide down. A six foot fall is too risky in my mind, even though I'm not much of a helicopter parent. In fact, 15% of construction fall fatalities are from six feet or less.
I think this kind of smart design can help give kids confidence to take risks when they are able and ready.
However, I just want to put your and other reader's minds somewhat at ease about fall fatalities. I assume the construction fatalities are falls on to hard surfaces like metal or concrete. I recently learned, while reading the manual for a back yard swing set, that there are official tables of material depth to protect against fall height.
For example, to protect against a fall of up to 10 feet you could use 6 inches of recycled rubber or 9 inches of wood chips: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/325.pdf (pdf)
Yeah, a fair point differenting the fall risk on playgrounds vs construction sites. It’s not apples to apples.
It also makes me incredibly happy that my daughter hears 4/5 languages daily, growing up multilingual seems such a cool and interesting thing.
SHAPIRO: For generations of parents, Brazelton was the expert. But when it came to his own children, he struggled.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
BRAZELTON: Oh, gosh, I don't think I ever did anything right. My kids will be glad to tell you that. (Laughter) And so I really feel that learning to parent is learning from your mistakes, not from your success.
Any recommendations for childrens stories that are a must read?
IMHO, the best kids book we've encountered. Some of the nice features:
a) well drawn and sharply delineated characters. (One of my pet peeves about some kids books is difficult to distinguish images that tend to get lost in a sea of bright colors.)
b) the text is _large_ and changes size according to the emotions of the characters.
c) phrases are repeated -- great for language acquisition -- but not in a way that's irritating or vacuous.
d) funny stories; real emotions that toddlers can grok.
e) good construction -- high quality printing, thick pages, etc...
Some of his recent favorites: Green Eggs and Ham, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, Duck in the Truck, Snip Snap! What’s That?, Gaston, Caps for Sale, Harry the Dirty Dog, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
f) Written with a rhythmic metre -- An example being Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. It almost feels like one sings this book rather than read it. I've noticed with the books that are almost musical in nature young kids can "read along" (basically recite) the entire text after just a few readings even when the vocabulary is tough and absolutely beyond their reading ability. And if you leave it and come back to it in a couple of weeks they'll still know it with uncanny accuracy.
Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus, ios app is awesome. Exactly what I want in a kids app.
there is also one called (I think, not English native) 'it is not a box' really nice and kids love it
Another nice thing about that series, for an early reader, is you can read one character and your child takes the other.
My dad read the Swallows and Amazons series to us,
then a bit later the Hornblower series, also the Redwall series, the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, a few Dickens, Robinson Crusoe, all Narnia, possibly a couple of Shakespear. A bunch of classic Sci-Fi: Day of the Triffids, the Foundation series, etc.
My mum read first quite a lot of Enid Blighton (Famous 5, Secret 7, magic faraway tree, etc)(really dated now), a few of the 'Chalet School' books (I got bored of those though my brother read the rest to himself), Agatha Christie, Jane Austin, Jane Eire, Don Camilo, Adrian Plass, Harry Potter, an Abridged Narnia and Abridged Lord of the Rings when we were younger (I think she just skipped the scary parts), Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss (our 3 year old loves them now), Katie Morag (lovely gentle stories), Dick King Smith, Alexander McCall-Smith has a few great calm fun fiction for kids (The Perfect Hamburger, for instance), Treasures of the Snow, Paddington, E.Nesbit, the Princess and Curdie et al, The Secret Garden, Dogger, the Story of Ping (AFTER you read it, check the amazon reviews), Politically Correct BedTime Stories ...
My wife and I are now reading (for the second time) through David Eddings' 'The Belgariad' together. I grew up reading those, although my parents never read them out loud, I dunno why. They work great out loud, but are definately for older readers. Teenagers or so. Kind of obvious plot - but the characters are so much fun to read, and it's a predicatable enjoyable journey.
Other older teenager series to read might include Ted Dekker's the Circle, Tamora Pierce, some of Anne McCaffery (depending how comfortable you are reading stories which include sex - maybe read them yourself first), Eragon (don't watch the movie though), Stephen Lawhead's various serieses, the Empryion one is a good start. Not too long, nor too heavy. Some John Grisham (The Street Lawyer is EXCELLENT.)
I'd recommend all of the above to get started :-)
Wait, that was a series? I vividly remember reading that book growing up, but I never knew there were more. I know what I'm going to be reading this summer!
- "Book with No Pictures" (B.J. Novak [yes, that's Ryan from The Office])
- anything by Sandra Boynton
- Boxcar Children series
- Cam Jansen series
- "Ada Twist, Scientist" (Andrea Beaty)
We have tons of books, from a variety of sources; some are duds, IMHO, mainly gifts from my MIL (tip for giving books to children: read through them first, from the perspective of reading that book every day for a month; bargain bins contain tons of garbage). Unfortunately, the kids like some of the duds, so they slip them in from time to time.
The Sandra Boynton children's music CDs are also quite tolerable as such things go.
I highly recommend:
1. "Dinosaurs and Dragons" by Kevin Roth.
2. "Hot Dog" and "Sing Along" by Caspar Babypants (aka. Chris Ballew)
3. Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl podcasts: https://saturdaycerealbowl.podbean.com/
The Halloween podcast is one of my favorites
My son loves to listen to all of these.
It doesn't get much better than William Steig — all of his books give kids the tools and analogs to confront complex emotions and overcome fears. Amos and Boris is my favorite, The Real Thief is excellent if they're a little older.
- DC Super Hero Girls
- Cleopatra in Space
- Adventure Time
- Zite the Spacegirl
I like all books by Raina Telgemeier, as well.
I read these graphic novels to my 3 and 6 year-olds, over and over.
Hooray for Fish
Don't Wake Up the Tiger
All the Harry the Dog books
Dumbo's African Adventure
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A New House for Mouse
Many of the Disney books - they can be very hit and miss but some have been quite popular, like the Dumbo book above, Beauty and the Beast, Winnie the Poeh, and a few others.
Reading to our kids at bedtime is one of my favourite times too :)
She also enjoys reading a lot by herself. Her latest craze was Astrid Lingdren and right now, she's reading Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH.
My son, who's 5 now and can't read fluently yet, enjoys graphic novels. I read at lot of simple "Thomas the Tank engine" stories to him. He also enjoys the "From the black lagoon" series of books as well as stuff from Dr. Seuss and other kids books like the Gruffalo series. One of his favourites are the books by Quentin Blake (Mrs. Armitage, Patrick, Angelo etc.). Interestingly, I read Kidnapped to my daughter while he (unknowingly) listened on and later he was able to recount some of the important scenes in the book quite well. He knew about Alan Breck and how he fought in the ship and what not. That was a bit of a wow moment for me.
I also love reading poetry to them. Even singing it if I can. The Random House book of poetry for children edited by Jack Prelutsky. Both of them love it and enjoy reciting stuff by themselves. They even have a few "favourite poems".
I think one of the responsibilities of a parent, especially in the younger years, is to curate the world that reaches their children. You have to expose them to the best of humanity so that they grow up that way and when they encounter the failings, they'll know how belong human potential it is. The humanities are a wonderful way of doing this and I emphasise them a lot more in my household than the sciences.
Rosie Revere Engineer and others from the same author
The Fairy Bell Sisters
Junie B Jones
Princess in Black
Ling and Ting series
The Golly Sisters
Sisters (comic book)
Harold and the Purple Crayon
I also believe that playing video games with your kids has benefits. Also throwing a ball. Even kicking the ball with kids (btw, do not do that with baseball ball - lesson learned). Or just walking and talking about shit (sometimes literally).
I'm just sarcastic here (and angry on myself): I did many mistakes of not being around for my first kid but I'm trying to fix up with second and third. Please do listen to the old guy: spent time with your kids. Period.
Normally, unless done really badly, initiatives like the one described here will have a significant positive effect.
More interesting studies follow the pattern of comparing different potential initiatives, or even better, comparing a surprising initiative with an obvious one. E.g. some studies have indicated that giving school children chess coaching improves their maths scores more than extra maths lessons.
That said, I'm hugely grateful to my parents for being very involved in reading aloud and telling stories while I was young. I'm convinced without the results of this study that there was a huge positive effect.
this seems like a long-winded way of saying "obviously this was true", which is a ridiculous attitude towards science (social science in particular)
Edit: but actually looking at the article under discussion here, the intervention seems to be videotaping parents playing and reading with their kids and then showing them back the videotape and talking about it. So maybe what is most needed here is more explicit external feedback to the parents, rather than any specific schedule for the kids.
My son especially struggled with reading. In an effort to help him with reading, I spent huge amounts of time forcing him to read different books. I used Anki to help him memorize difficult words.
I did help him, but by the fourth grade he was still behind his classmates
Everything changed one day when I decided to back off and instead read to him (and my daughter) every night for pleasure. I stopped asking to read part of the book. I tried different books and quickly my son and daughter started to enjoy the nighttime ritual of being read to.
About half way through Roald Dahl's book the BFG, something clicked in my fourth grade son. He started reading the BFG on his own. Then he started to read during school downtime. When I'm driving him somewhere he is often now reading books in the backseat instead of playing games on his iPad.
My point is reading fun books to your children can help them fall in love with reading and thus make them want to read.
If I could give any advice to new parents is to read to your children every night (maybe take weekends off :-) ) and try and just have fun reading interesting stories to them.
Hopefully my son has found a lifelong love of reading, which will serve him well.
Really. Read to them every night in bed! It is an amazing bonding experience. Read fun books for both of you. I don't think you will have anything that you will regret less in your life!
https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/word-gap-speak-more... is one article that discusses some options but the original study can be found here:
There have been follow on studies discussed here
That show it also has to do with the diversity of words, and even their tone (the positive vs negative) that is a key driver towards how well they engage and grow.
It's not the activity they enjoy the most, and it's not proactively educational (at least not in the sense that I'm forcing numbers and letters down their throat), but it just seems to turn them into a different sort of kid for a few moments.