5 frequently asked questions about reading answered

By Captain Unni Krishnan,

Reading is a dying habit among the current generation of youth and is a matter of concern. I thought I would highlight the benefits of reading in a Q&A approach with the aim to not only influence a few more people to read but also motivate them to get their children to start reading.

Photo credit: Preethi Vijayaraj

1. How does reading influence a person?

Reading influences a persons speaking and writing abilities and more importantly has a great bearing on the personality as a whole because – Reading improves awareness on varied topics and in any gathering helps interact on a larger spectrum of issues.

2. What is the ideal age to start reading?

Reading is a habit and the earlier you start the better it is. The best way is for a mother to regularly start reading aloud to a little baby and then slowly grow this to sessions where both read together. As a family if you can have reading time that would be ideal. It is never too early nor too late to start reading. Of course it is easier to start reading when you are young and as you grow older you need more push.

3. How does reading benefit?

Some of the long term benefits are if you are person who reads, you will never be bored, as a book is a friend that can always be with you, it builds your self esteem because you are considered a resource person within your group. Reading is an active mental process and it is said that if you are mentally active you can stay away from Alzheimer; well then it is a great incentive.

4. Why should a child take up reading?

Among children reading can be of great help, it helps improve their vocabulary as they are exposed to so many new words and its different usage, it improves their concentration and focus, it improves their memory and above all improves their visualization – when you read a book you visualize a scene your way and when you see a movie you see it depicted as visualized by someone else.

5. Is there an age by when it is too late to start reading?

It is never late to start or improve your reading habit but an important aspect in this regard is to be serious about. Have a schedule or an allotted time every day that must be religiously followed for reading if you can have a common time as a family when everyone is reading then it is the best.

One interesting method suggested is what is called DEAR – which stands for Drop Everything And Read. You can follow this at home or office or anywhere else: set an alarm and whenever the alarm goes off stop whatever you are doing pick up a book and read. You can read for 15 minutes, 30 minutes or even an hour depending on the time you have.  You can even have more than one such slot every day or 2 slots on holidays and Sundays during vacations and so on..  You can add incentives and penalties to it. The options are plenty DEAR can be as creative as you want it to be the aim is to promote reading.

If you have been reading keep doing if not start now. Wishing all of you Happy reading.

About the Author:

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Secrets to nurturing a lifelong love for reading

By Deepa Vaidya,

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss.

Over the years, there have been numerous studies that have highlighted the importance of reading to children. We all know and agree that children who read are more likely to do well in academics.

Photo Credit: Preethi Vijayaraj

They have better communication skills, a larger vocabulary, sharper logical thinking skills and better communication skills. In this fast paced world though, children are constantly performing a balancing act between completing their homework on time, participating in co-curricular activities like sports and studying for ongoing evaluations. How do we then as parents, kindle a love for reading? Both me and my children are avid readers. Here are a few tricks that I have tried successfully:

  1. Read to your children early and as often as you can: It is never too early to introduce a child to the world of books. Even babies and toddlers enjoy watching you read picture books and pop-up books. My youngest one who is under a year old loves staring at bright coloured picture books and sometimes chomp down on those. It is never too early to start!
  2. Start off with simple books: For early readers, you can introduce books by Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown and Dr Seuss. These books have simple rhyming words that children love. Initially you will have to read to them. As your children get older, you can alternately read a page and ask them to read the next. Before you know it, your children will be reading the book cover-to-cover.
  3. Let children choose: As you read more and more books, your children may show preferences for certain books or a certain genre. Introduce them to a large selection, but let them lead the way. Maybe they have a favourite character that they like to read about or maybe they like a particular author’s style of writing. There is no right or wrong book to read.
  4. Incorporate reading into your daily schedule: Leave aside a certain time of the day where you want your kids to read. In my house, reading is part of our bedtime routine. After the kids are ready for bed, they like to cuddle with a book and fall asleep. This is also an excellent activity to calm them down before bedtime.
  5. Minimize time spent in front of television: There is a reason why the television is called an ‘Idiot box’. Watching television is a passive activity. Because books convey information through the written word without the benefit of tone, inflection and director’s opinions, they depend heavily on the reader’s imagination. Television on the other hand provides you with the story, already carved out as per the director’s imagination and edited for brevity. The first time my children saw the Harry Potter series on celluloid, they were surprised by how much of the story had been edited to fit into the stipulated movie time. Much of JK Rowling’s rich prose and subtle details had been lost in transforming the books into movies.
  6. Be patient: If initially your children do not take to reading right away, do not lose heart. Keep trying out different genres or different authors. Persistence always pays and your children will eventually like a certain author that they want to read over and over.
  7. Join a library: If you have a public library that you can go to, make it a habit to visit it every few days. You can also join your neighbourhood lending library or avail of the library in your child’s school. We have seen some of the methods by which you can nurture the reading habit in your children. Books have the power to benefit your children in a myriad of ways. Therefore, as a parent, fostering a love of reading in your child can provide a foundation for academic excellence.
What are your suggestions to cultivate the love for reading?

References:

  1. http://www.earlymoments.org/why-reading-to-children-is-important/
  2. http://tomrubenoff.hubpages.com/hub/Television-or-Book/

About the Author:

Deepa is a mother of 3 children. She has a Master’s degree in Information Sciences from Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey. She is currently on a sabbatical from her career in software development and taking care of her 8 month old. She has just finished reading the Hunger Games series with her older twins and has embarked on reading Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s epic Discovery of India with them.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Change the mindset of education discrimination!

By Sampada Bidikar,

We come across a lot of news about the discrimination faced by people in our society, we read about the quota system in education, or the discrimination faced by the children admitted in school via the RTE (Right to Education) act. Each one of us has an opinion (rather a strong one) about this. When we read such stories we feel sorry for the kids, we blame the system or the government, we say it hinders India’s progress and many other things. Quite recently I read an article from The Hindu, about how parents and even the students don’t want kids from poor background (admitted via the RTE act) to study in the same class as theirs. They say it affects their progress; these kids might lower the level of education and many such things. I was astonished when I read that the kids were saying such things.
(The Hindu article: “Having them in our class”)

Children are born free, without boundaries of any kind. It is we the parents who teach them what’s right and what’s wrong. Even before going to school, children learn a lot from their parents. Parents instil most of the values in a kid.

www.sxc.hu/photo/1380778

Last Sunday me and my Hubby were standing in the balcony, watching few boys play cricket in our complex. We stay in defence quarters, therefore each officer’s quarters has a servant’s quarter, where servants stay along with their families. So these officers’ kids were playing along with a few servants’ kids. The game was going along well. We were also enjoying the game. Then there comes an officer (father of one of the boys) and he is angry that the high society officer’s kids are playing with servant’s kids. He literally asked the security guard to shoo away the servant kids. And then he scolded the remaining kids and instructed them not to play with those kids again. From that day I have not seen the kids play together again.

The incident left us saddened. How humiliating the servant’s kids must have felt? And as my husband said “I feel sorry for the officer’s kid. He will grow up to be a snob.” And that’s absolutely true. This will leave a negative mark on the kids coming from both the backgrounds.

This is a classic example which shows that the problem is in our homes. It’s the mindset of the people. And inevitably our kids inherit our mindset. The problem has got nothing to do with the government or society. It’s we who put the divides in our minds and in the minds of our kids. And nothing possibly will change until we break these walls in our minds first. Success of RTE or removal of the quota system in Indian education will remain a farfetched dream, if this mentality is not changed.

About the Author:

Sampada Bidikar (sampada.bidikar@learnhive.net) is the Team Lead – Content Development at Learnhive Education Pvt. Ltd. She has over 5 years of experience in Information technology and over a year experience in Training and development; has worked in the Health care and Power domain at Siemens Information systems Ltd. She has a Bachelors degree in Information Science. Having a passion for training and development, she did her Advanced Diploma in Training and Development and has worked as a trainer and content developer at Oscar Murphy International.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

How to beat the fear of Algebra?

By Arindam Nag.

Elementary Algebra is generalized form of arithmetic. It provides a language to represent problems and functions. Algebraic thinking is also one of the first forms of abstract thinking that students develop in mathematics. It is most critical to understand what mental model your child has established and then look to mould and correct that model giving different examples. Lets look at some of the common gotchas of algebraic learning.

Fear of the unknown x

In Algebra, we use a mixture of numerical digits (constants) and alphabets (variables). For many children, after having done arithmetic, they get pretty confused with the introduction of alphabets in mathematical expressions. Also, with x being the favorite letter for a variable, it is even more confusing since it is the symbol used for multiplication. In computer programming parlance, x is overloaded.

The easiest way to introduce alphabets in arithmetic is to use them as placeholders while solving word problems. Consider the following problem: 5 bananas cost 20 rupees. What is the cost of each banana? Such type of problem is introduced quite early, as soon as children learn multiplication and division. You can start with using a sketch of a banana to represent cost of one banana. You can show that instead of writing 5 x Cost of one banana = 20,

5 x Cost of banana = 20they can draw a picture of a banana. Then they can replace that picture with an alphabet, say b to represent the banana. So, now they have a language to represent the problem to say

5 x b = 20

This is the beginning of Algebra. Algebraic thinking can be introduced by asking them what happens if the cost of 5 banans increases to 30 rupees and then 40 rupees.

Algebraic expressions to represent functions

In the above example, the letter b really represented one value. The essence of Algebra is that an alphabet is used to represent a variable quantity which can take on different values and thus represent a function. Using Age related problems is a great way to explain this concept. Start by asking your child to express the following statement as an algebraic expression : Father is 30 years older than the son. How would you write this?

Age of son : x

Age of father : x + 30

 

Father and son

Then proceed by asking what happens to the father’s age as the son’s age increases. This will build a mental model of a function. Then one can easily introduce the concept of an equation. When the father is 50 years old what is the age of son?

x + 30 = 50

Solve for x.

 

 

Misconception about subtracting variables

Another common mistake that almost all children make is dealing with expressions like this.

What is 5x – x ?

Most children will answer that as 5, especially when the problem is asked verbally. This is because of two reasons. First reason is that they forget x is really a shorthand for 1x. The other reason is that children have a mental model of the above expression as:

5(x – x)

rather than

(5 – 1)x

This can also be explained with an interesting age problem. The father’s age is 5 times the son’s age. The difference in their current ages is 20. What are their ages?

5x – x = 20

Solve for x.

 

Conclusion

Remember that Algebra is beginning of abstract thinking in mathematics. Hence it is very important that we understand what is the model they have in their mind and then help shape that model. Most important is to remove the fear of use of alphabets in mathematical expressions. Make it fun by using puzzles and then inculcate the understanding of function representation. Then, definitions around like terms, coefficients and others will naturally follow.

Algebraic terminology

References:

1. Making Meaning in Algebra Examining Students’ Understandings and Misconceptions — David Foster http://library.msri.org/books/Book53/files/12foster.pdf

2. On the learning of Algebra — H. Wu. http://math.berkeley.edu/~wu/algebra1.pdf

About the Author:

Arindam Nag is a  Founder and Director at Learnhive; he has over 15 years experience in information technology. He worked for over 13 years at one of the world’s leading investment banks, Goldman Sachs in various engineering and technology leadership roles. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a recipient of National Talent Search Scholarship. He is a staunch believer in using technology to bridge the gap in the educational divide that exists not just in India but the world over.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Why should you be using the Internet for your child’s education?

By Karthik Ramaswamy.

Every student has a time in life where he feels academically challenged – I myself was faced with that dilemma during the time I was applying to different Universities to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. There is a certain overflow as well as a lack of information one finds in today’s education system: It has become more of a business, and people fail to understand WHY learning and schools were invented in the first place. The essence of learning something lies in curiosity – if you are genuinely curious about a topic, there’s no way you can’t learn more about it. That curiosity is sometimes self-generated, but most of the time, needs to be inculcated – which is why learning about something is very different in comparison to doing well in an exam and scoring marks.

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/2281

At the end of the day, both go hand in hand. Genuine interest fosters a hunger for knowledge, and later a desire to apply that knowledge – which is where exams come in – in places where you can test your understanding skills. And one has to agree; there is no better place to do that than the Internet.

I’m pretty sure many kids today are well acquainted with the net. I was nothing short of shocked when my 10 year old cousin came up to me and asked me about things i hadn’t even heard of before – which explains how much these kids really get out of digging around the internet. When I was in sixth grade, there was no option really, other than paying attention in class (or expensive personal tutors who, well, lets face it, really didn’t make kids learn the right way) and then preparing all by yourself for examinations. The only material you had was government-supplied textbooks that focused more on an examination point of view rather than actual learning. The skills needed for grasping more complicated concepts in science was only inculcated through active participation in competitive exams such as Olympiads.

Today, if i want to read about airplanes, I can go to Wikipedia and learn all about them the very same day. So much so, that within a month, I can take online lessons and match my knowledge to a graduate in aerospace. This vast, vast treasure trove of information comes with universities realizing that knowledge must be shared extensively – with more involvement from the student community, the internet continues to be an invaluable resource to students all over the world. But things are slightly different at the school level. Of course, one cannot simply start reading graduate level subjects out of interest. Moreover, it is very important that the ‘Base’ – fundamentals or ‘fundas’ as they are better known – must be absolutely concrete. And this can happen only at the school level. If they aren’t strong, the student will have to first build them later on – which is frankly a waste of time, and no student likes to go back to what he studied at the school level once he graduates from school.

Any kid can read a textbook, learn a few lines, write it in exams and get a good grade. But does that really help them? Not really. Because when they have to apply that knowledge, they fall behind people who use these other resources – and actually learn the subject. These ‘resources’ come in many shapes and sizes, but what is important is that they must be focused on making the student learn. Make him think, develop his curiosity and then challenge him with applications of what he learned – that way, he’ll not see it as an obligation, but as a fun activity that engages him in learning new things. Textbook knowledge is not at all enough, and most students find it boring to read the same thing again and again.

Don’t limit them as far as their education is concerned – it’s important that they pick up as much as they want (and need) to along the way. And with a toll as powerful as the Internet, the whole world is, quite literally, at their fingertips.

About the Author:

Karthik Ramaswamy is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from VIT university, Vellore. He is a captain at Assailing Falcons, VITU’s debut aero design team. He is a writer at the Brain Bought blog.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

10 activities to engage with your kids in

By Tajinder Singh

I want to share how parents can get passionately involved and engaged in various sports and activities that their kids enjoy doing. This is a follow-up to my previous blog on ‘How involved are you in your kid’s education’

Here are some edutainment activities you can do with your kids – some we have enjoyed doing at home with our 2 kids, and there are others that I know, are avidly done by some of my friends and families. And often some friendly competition with your kids, in some of these activities, can spice up the excitement.

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/299893

  1. Picture puzzle boards – you can get various difficulty levels for various age groups, plus there is a collective sense of achievement (and sometimes relief)
  2. Treasure hunt – good one to organize inside (or outside) your home. Sometimes include your neighbour’s kids and their house too!
  3. Building blocks – works well with kids in the 3-7 years age group.
  4. Plant an indoor house-plant – for the nature-inclined kids. A moneyplant is easy to grow and maintain.
  5. Wash your car or motorbike together on summer day – Usually anything with water is fun, and you have a shining car/bike at the end.
  6. Bead-work – Girls more inclined towards this and you can get the GrandMa involved too.
  7. Go on a bicycle ride with your kid(s) – Make sure there is enough open space or the side roads are not busy.
  8. Dance at home – find songs that you both like and the tune is easy to dance with. Exercise and have fun at the same time.
  9. Play tag – never goes out in style with younger kids.
  10. Do you have something that you enjoy doing the most with your kids? Please post here.

About the Author:

Tajinder Singh Sidhu is a Founder and Director at Learnhive. He has over 20 years of experience in various leadership roles designing and managing complex technology solutions. Prior to Learnhive, he worked for over 14 years at Goldman Sachs in New York. He holds a BTech degree in Computer Science & Engg from IIT, Delhi, and a Master’s in Computer Science from College of William & Mary, Virginia. He has taught students as part of the NSS scheme in India, and currently is a teacher with the Literacy Volunteers of America.

About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).