Monday, 6 July 2020

Bedtime Stories - Perfect way to Teach Your Child Phonemic Awareness

Helping young children develop phonemic awareness early on is one of the keys for children to develop exceptional reading and writing skills once they begin attending schools. Did you know that studies have indicated that phonemic awareness is the single best predictor of reading success for young children once they begin school? In fact, studies have found that phonemic awareness is far better than IQ at predicting the reading and spelling abilities of young children.

Most people  know about phonics, and what it is; however, far fewer people know what phonemic awareness is. In short, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and work with the phonemes. For example, /d/, /o/, and /g/, are the individual sounds of the word "dog". Please note, the letters enclosed in the slashes denotes the sound of the letter, and not the name of the letter. Phonemes are the smallest units of individual sounds that form a word.

Phonemic awareness is not something you're born with, and it is an ability that's gained through repeated exposure to listening, speaking, and reading. As parents, there are many different strategies you can use to help your children develop phonemic awareness such as playing simple word segmentation or oral blending games.

Like most parents, we (my wife and I) read bedtime stories before we put our children to sleep, and one of the best strategies that we like to use to teach phonemic awareness to our children, is to mix in word segmenting and oral blending when we read bedtime stories for our kids. This is an exceptional method, because it doesn't take any extra time or effort, since reading bedtime stories is something you already do. So, here's how to go about it.

Let's say that you're reading a nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill":

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

Instead of reading each word straight through the rhyme, you can randomly mix in oral blending on various words in the rhyme. Please note: instead of using slashes "/" to denote phonemes, we'll simply use hyphens to make it easier to read. So, let's assume that your child is very young, perhaps 2, 3, or 4 years old, and you want to start helping them develop some phonemic awareness. You can read Jack and Jill like so:

J-ack and J-ill went up the h-ill
To fetch a p-ail of water.
J-ack fell down and broke his crown
And J-ill came tumbling after.

As you can see, when you read the rhyme, you simply make an effort to separate several of the first letters sounds from the words, such as /J/ from "ack", and /J/ from "ill". As your child begins to grasp the concept of individual sounds making up words, you can slowly increase the difficulty by breaking down each word further. For example:

Jack
J-ack
J-a-ck

Repeated exposure of this type of word segmenting and oral blending will slowly help your child develop a sense and an understanding that each word is made up of individual sounds - in other words, you are teaching phonemic awareness to your children during bedtime stories without them even knowing that they are being taught to!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

6 Proven Ways to get Any Baby Sleep

Everything about baby sleep can seem frighteningly high-stakes at 3 A.M. in the morning.
Make one tiny mistake in his or her training and your child’s development will be seriously affected: he’ll either end up waking in the night well into his high school years, or worse, develop anxiety, depression, or mood swings.
And with every sleep expert offering slightly different advice on the ideal timing and method for sleep training you may be unsure about who to believe, how to proceed, or which sleep training method you should follow.
That’s where this article fits in – I’m going to help you separate sleep fact from sleep fiction by zeroing in on 6 science-backed strategies that have been proven to promote healthy sleep habits in babies and young children.

Strategy #1 – Learn to Spot Your Child’s Sleep Cues
Like the rest of us, your child has a sleep window of opportunity, a period of time when he is tired, but not too tired.
If that window closes before you have a chance to tuck your child into bed, his body will start releasing chemicals to fight the fatigue and it will be much more difficult for you to get him to go to sleep. So how can you tell if your baby is getting sleepy? It’s not as if your one-month-old can tell you what he needs. Here are some sleep cues that your baby is ready to start winding down for a nap or for bedtime:
-Your baby is calmer and less active – this is the most obvious cue that your baby is tired and you need to act accordingly.
-Your baby may be less tuned-in to his surroundings – his eyes may be less focused and his eyelids may be drooping.
-Your baby may be quieter – if your baby tends to babble up a storm during his more social times of the day, you may notice that the chatter dwindles off as he starts to get sleepy.
-Your baby may nurse more slowly – instead of sucking away vigorously, your baby will tend to nurse more slowly as he gets sleepy. In fact, if he’s sleepy enough, he may even fall asleep mid-meal.
-Your baby may start yawning – if your baby does this, well, that’s a not-so-subtle sign that he’s one sleepy baby.
When your baby is very young, you should start his wind-down routine within one to two hours of the time when he first woke up.
If you miss his initial sleep cues and start to notice signs of overtiredness – for instance, fussiness, irritability, and eye-rubbing, simply note how long your baby was up this time around and then plan to initiate the wind-down routine about 20 minutes earlier the next time he wakes up. (The great thing about parenting a newborn is that you get lots of opportunities to practice picking up on those sleep cues—like about six or seven times a day!)
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and more content baby.
Here’s something else you need to know about babies’ sleep cues, something that can toss you a major curve ball if you’re caught off guard:
Babies tend to go through an extra-fussy period when they reach the six-week mark. The amount of crying that babies do in a day tends to increase noticeably when babies are around six weeks of age.
You aren’t doing anything wrong and there isn’t anything wrong with your baby. It’s just a temporary stage that babies go through.
If your child becomes overtired, your child is likely to behave in one or more of the following ways (results may vary, depending on his age and personality):
-Your child will get a sudden burst of energy at the very time when you think she should be running on empty.
-You’ll start seeing “wired” and hyperactive behavior, even if such behavior is totally out of character for your child at other times of the day.
-Your toddler or preschooler will become uncooperative or argumentative.
-Your child will be whiny or clingy or she’ll just generally fall apart because she simply can’t cope with the lack of sleep any longer.
You will probably find that your child has his or her own unique response to being overtired. Some children start to look pale. Some young babies start rooting around for a breast and will latch on to anything within rooting distance, including your face or your arm! When nothing seems to be wrong (he’s fed and clean), but he’s just whining about everything and wants to be held all day, he’s overtired and needs help to get to sleep.
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and happier baby.

Strategy #2 – Teach Your Baby to Distinguish between Night and Day
Because our circadian rhythm (our internal time clock) operates on a 24-hour and 10-minute to 24 hour and 20-minute cycle (everyone’s body clock ticks along at a slightly different rhythm) and all of our rhythms are slightly out of sync with the 24-hour clock on which the planet operates, we have to reset our internal clocks each and every day – otherwise, we’d slowly but surely stay up later and sleep in later each day until we had our cycles way out of whack.
Daylight is one of the mechanisms that regulate our biological cycles.
Being exposed to darkness at night and daylight first thing in the morning regulates the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that keeps our bodies’ internal clock in sync to that we feel sleepy and alert at the appropriate times.
By exposing your baby to daylight shortly after he wakes up in the morning and keeping his environment brightly lit during his waking hours, you will help his circadian rhythm to cue him to feel sleepy at the right times.
Moreover, he’ll start to associate darkness with sleep time and bright light with wake-up time – you’ll find that it works best to take advantage of sunlight (as opposed to artificial light) whenever possible.
Studies have shown that exposing your baby to daylight between noon and 4:00 P.M. will increase the odds of your baby getting a good night’s sleep.

Strategy #3 – Let Your Baby Practise Falling Asleep on His Own
Some sleep experts recommend that you put your baby to bed in a sleepy-but-awake state whenever possible from the newborn stage onwards so that he can practice some self-soothing behaviors.
Others say that you should give your baby at least one opportunity to try to fall asleep on his own each day.
Lastly, some others say that there’s no point even bothering to work on these skills until your baby reaches that three-to-four month mark (when your baby’s sleep-wake rhythm begins to mature so that some sleep learning can begin to take place).
Sleep experts claim that the sleep-association clock starts ticking at around six weeks. They claim that this is the point at which your baby begins to really tune into his environment as he’s falling asleep.
So if he gets used to falling asleep in your arms while your rock him and sing to him, he will want you to rock him and sing to him when he wakes up in the middle of the night – that’s the only way he knows on how to fall asleep.
This is because he has developed a sleep association that involves you – you have become a walking, talking sleep aid.
Some parents decide that it makes sense to take a middle-of-the-road approach to sleep associations during the early weeks and months of their baby’s life – they decide to make getting sleep the priority for themselves and their babies and to take advantage of any opportunities to start helping their babies to develop healthy sleep habits.

Regardless of when you start paying attention to the types of sleep associations your baby may be developing, at some point you will want to consider whether your baby could be starting to associate any of the following habits or behaviors with the process of falling asleep:

-Falling asleep during bottle-feeding
-Being rocked to sleep
-Having you rub or pat his back, sing a lullaby, or otherwise play an active role in helping your baby to fall asleep
-Having you in the room until your baby falls asleep
-Relying on a pacifier
Here’s something important to keep in mind, particularly since we tend to fall into an all-or-nothing trap when we’re dealing with the subject of sleep.

You can reduce the strength of any particular sleep association by making sure it is only present some of the time when your baby is falling asleep.
If, for example, you nurse your baby to sleep some of the time, rock your baby to sleep some of the time, and try to put your baby to bed just some of the time when he’s sleep but awake, he’ll have a hard time getting hooked on any sleep association.
Sleep experts stress that the feeding-sleep association tends to be particularly powerful, so if you can encourage your baby to fall asleep without always needing to be fed to sleep, your baby will have an easier time learning how to soothe himself to sleep when he gets a little older.
Most babies are ready to start practicing these skills around the three- to the four-month mark.

Strategy #4 – Make Daytime Sleep a Priority: Children Who Nap Sleep Better
Scientific research has shown that babies who nap during the day sleep better and longer at nighttime. While you might think that skipping babies’ daytime naps might make it easier to get them off to bed at evening, babies typically end up being so overtired that they have a very difficult time settling down at bedtime and they don’t sleep particularly well at night.
And rather than sleeping in so that they can catch up on the sleep they didn’t get the day before, they tend to start the next day too early and they have a difficult time settling down for their naps, as well.
Simply put, it is important to make your child’s daytime sleep a priority, just as you make a point of ensuring that he receives nutritious meals and snacks on a regular basis – your child needs nutritious sleep snacks during the day in addition to his main nighttime sleep meal in order to be at his very best.
In addition, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who nap are generally in a better mood and have an improved attention span as compared to their age-mates who don’t nap.

Strategy #5 – Know When Your Baby No Longer Needs to Be Fed At Night
Your baby may continue to wake up in the night out of habit even when he’s outgrown the need for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
If your baby is going without that nighttime feeding some of the time or doesn’t seem particularly interested in nursing once he gets up in the night, it might be time to eliminate that nighttime feeding and use non-food methods to soothe him back to sleep.
Eventually, of course, you’ll want to encourage him to assume responsibility for soothing himself to sleep, but the first hurdle is to work on breaking that powerful food-sleep association.
With some children, it happens quickly. With other children, it’s a much slower process.
Once you break that association, he may stop waking as often in the night and may be ready to start working on acquiring some self-soothing skills.

Strategy #6 – Remain as Calm and Relaxed as Possible about the Sleep Issue
If you are frustrated and angry when you deal with your child in the night, your child will inevitably pick up your vibes, even if you’re trying hard to hide your feelings.
Accepting the fact that some babies take a little longer to learn the sleep ropes and feeling confident that you can solve your child’s sleep problems will make it easier to cope with the middle-of-the-night sleep interruptions.
Scientific studies have shown that parents who have realistic expectations about parenthood and who feel confident in their own abilities to handle parenting difficulties find it easier to handle sleep challenges.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Codependency in Your Marriage - Silent Killer of Your Relationship

Are you married to an addict or someone with deep personal issues?
         
Is your marriage or family life going through a difficult time because of problems, financial concerns, abuse, or caring for a physically or emotionally handicapped family member?

If so, do you find yourself making excuses for these issues? Calling in sick for your alcoholic husband? Taking over the housework because your poor spouse is just too depressed to help? Denying that abuse is going on in your own home? Do you find yourself taking charge and bearing the burdens of the entire marriage or family?

You may be a codependent and this is a serious issue in marriages and families.

You may have learned to be codependent due to your family background. It happened in your family so you tend to be attracted to the same situation once you marry.

You may have learned behaviors such as making excuses, tuning out, controlling, excessive caretaking, being hyper-vigilant because you feel that you should do something to save your family from shame or to at least diffuse the situation and keep the peace. You also do this because you desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship.

Unfortunately, while such behaviors may reduce conflict and tension for the meantime, they won't help for the long term. All you are doing is reinforcing the situation and even, allowing it to worsen. You are also allowing yourself to be lost within the situation and, in the long run, may find yourself no longer able to cope.

What can you do to overcome codependence in your marriage and family life?

If you are reading this short article and have come to recognize that you do have this problem - congratulations. That is the first step in beginning to overcome codependence. Admit that you have a problem and take steps to begin changing it. It will require both self-help and professional help.



More often than not, these issues stem from deep seated psychological problems. Don’t let shame keep you from seeking the help of a counselor or psychologist. Additionally, there are programs similar to Codependents’ Anonymous that will help you process your issues and provide you with tools how to overcome them.

Your partner or family member may also need professional help, especially if they are battling clinical conditions or addiction. Work at getting them the help they need, whether they want it or not. There are some excellent suggestions in savemymarriagetoday.com's ebook "How to Change Your Partner from Addiction, Even If they don't want to!"

If there is abuse in your home, more radical steps must be taken. For the sake of your own self-respect and for your children, if you have any, break away from the situation. Find a shelter or group that will help you gain your independence and help you through healing and recovery.

Codependents need healing too and, once recognized, you should not allow the situation to continue. Get help.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Dangers of lack of sleep and How it Affects Your Baby's Brain and Personality

A leading researcher on temperament in infants and young children once said in despair, “When I raised my first child, I believed behavioral theories claiming that what I do as a parent molds my child’s character. With my second child, I was already a geneticist and believed that a child is born with characteristics that are passed on through heredity and that environmental influence is minimal. I barely knew my third child at all...”
This analysis was, of course, exaggerated, but it demonstrates the ongoing quest of parents and scientists to answer this question: what determines the personality and personal characteristics of the child?
The question of heredity (“She got her shyness from her dad’s family”) versus environment (“If his mother were more strict with him, he would be calmer”) underlies parents’ attempts to understand the range of influence they have in molding their child.
Up-to-date research points to a complex picture: the influence of heredity and environment on the child. Much evidence suggests that the baby is born with genetic baggage that not only determines how he looks, the color of his eyes, and his chances of suffering from various diseases but also significantly influences the character traits that he or she will develop.
Physical activity level, shyness or sociability, openness to new situations, and anxiety are among the traits that are related to the genetic predisposition with which babies enter the world. Many parents discover that their child has traits that are undesirable to them—especially if they remind them of qualities they dislike about their parents, their spouses, or themselves.
Parents frequently try to fight these traits, but they often discover that it is a losing battle.
It seems that the most important variable that influences the quality of the relationship between parents and children is the “goodness of fit” between the child’s traits and the parents’ expectations.
A very active child, for example, may be adored by a father who appreciates and identifies with this trait but merely tolerated by a father who expects a calmer child.
On the other hand, a quiet, calm child may be considered depressive or lifeless by the first father, while the second father sees her as perfect.
Incompatibility between parental expectations and the child’s traits may lead to frustration and stress in the relationship, particularly if the parents try to “correct” the child to conform to their expectations.

    The Relationship Between Temperament And Sleep
Every parent is familiar with the situation in which her child demonstrates by his behavior that he “is up past his bedtime.”
When scientists asked parents to describe this situation, some said that the child calms down, seems sleepy, falls asleep on his own, or asks directly or indirectly to go to bed. Other parents said that their child in this situation “climbs the walls,” “is a crybaby,” “is nervous and unhappy with everything,” “doesn’t respond to what he’s told,” or “simply does annoying things.”
Clearly, young children react to tiredness in significantly different ways.
A state of fatigue is not necessarily expressed by decreased activity and obvious sleepiness.
Sometimes the symptoms can be just the opposite.
Some of the typical “negative” behaviors of the tired child are compatible with general patterns that characterize behavior disorders.
Much evidence points to a strong correlation between sleep and the development of the child’s personality traits.
Studies have shown that a baby who suffers from sleep disorders (difficulty falling asleep, for example, or many awakenings during the night) tends to be “more difficult” in other behavioral domains.
In a study conducted in several sleep laboratories, scientists compared a group of nine- to twenty-four-month-old babies whose parents had come for a consultation about their children’s sleep problems with a control group of babies without sleep disorder – not surprisingly, what they found is significant differences in the traits that the mothers attributed to babies.
The mothers completed a temperament questionnaire, which is a sort of “personality” test for young children.
The mothers rated their degree of agreement with such sentences as “The child agrees to be dressed and undressed without protesting,” “The child responds strongly (screams, yells) when frustrated,” and “The child sits quietly when waiting to eat.”
In general, the mothers of babies with sleep problems described them as more demanding, complaining, annoying, negatively sensitive to different stimuli, and difficult to adapt to different situations, as compared with babies without sleep problems.
One of the traits measured in the temperament questionnaire is the degree of sensitivity or responsivity of the baby to different sensory stimuli (noise, temperature, taste, smell).
Some babies are very sensitive to any kind of sensory stimulus, and others are sensitive only to a specific type of sensation—for example, those who recoil from skin contact.
A wide range of babies do not respond in an outstanding way to sensory stimuli.
One of the hypotheses that the researcher William Carey examined in 1974 was that babies who suffer from hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli would tend to develop sleep difficulties.
Carey’s findings supported the hypothesis, and he claimed that the heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli is hereditary.
In order to fall asleep, the baby has to disassociate himself from the external environment and stop responding to people, noise, light, and temperature, and to disassociate from internal signals as well, such as pain, discomfort, and hunger. This ability to disassociate is most critical for maintaining uninterrupted sleep and for preventing awakenings in response to various stimuli.
A baby who is sensitive from birth to any internal or external stimulus will have trouble disassociating from environmental stimuli, which will interfere with his ability to relax and fall asleep easily and will cause him to awaken easily and frequently over the course of the night.
This correlation between sleep and behavior continues throughout later childhood.
Studies that examined school-aged children found a correlation between sleep disorders and problems with behavior and more general adaptation.
Actually, sleep disorders serve as a sensitive barometer of general adaptation problems among children and adults.
Sleep disorders are a prominent sign of stress and anxiety, depression, and adaptation problems. Sleep problems are so prevalent in some behavior or emotional disorders that they have been included in diagnostic criteria.
One factor that strengthens a diagnosis of anxiety disorders in a child, for example, is the presence of a sleep disorder.
The close correlation between sleep disorders and behavior problems in children can be explained in a number of ways.
Perhaps a child born with a tendency toward problematic behavior develops sleep problems as well, as a result.  At the same time, it is reasonable to believe that significant sleep problems will lead to insufficient sleep or sleep deprivation, which may cause the child to be nervous, impatient, and harder to manage.
In addition, a third cause, such as incompatible parenting patterns, may provoke or aggravate both behavior problems and sleep difficulties.
In treatment centers, scientists frequently come across babies or young children who are described by their parents as hyperactive.
The parents use this term casually, but professionals use it to diagnose a condition—the professional term is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder— that occurs only in older children.
These babies are described as especially active and restless and are said to demand attention and seek stimuli constantly.
Often parents associate their child’s sleep difficulties with his wakeful restlessness. Occasionally a parent says something like, “This boy has a turbo engine and he cannot shut it down at bedtime,” or “He is like the Energizer bunny; he keeps going and going and going.”
Although hyperactivity is diagnosed at a later age, there is evidence that most hyperactive children were overactive, restless babies, with difficult temperaments.

Again, we face a chicken-or-egg question: are these babies unable to sleep like “normal” babies because they are unusually active, or does their sleep problem underlie their “hyperactivity”?
In many cases sleep disruption appears to lead to “hyperactive” behavior patterns, even though no research has directly confirmed this fact.
More and more evidence demonstrates that lack of sleep may bring on behavior that resembles that of a hyperactive child.
From an intuitive perspective we can all recall methods we use to keep ourselves awake when we are tired.
These methods include increasing our activity, fidgeting, fiddling with our hands or our facial muscles, and similar strategies.
This pattern contradicts the expectation that the tired child will relax and slow down.
The clinical literature has documented certain cases in which significant sleep problems have been found to lead to “hyperactive” behavior patterns and later to a wrong diagnosis and treatment.
It is of utmost importance to examine the possibility that the sleep disorder is the source and not the outcome of the “hyperactivity.”
In the event that a sleep disorder exists, it should be treated before treating the disorders that result from it.
In some cases treating the sleep disorder may spare the child from receiving unnecessary medication like Ritalin, which is the most prescribed chemical response to children’s behavioral problems.
An erroneous interpretation of a child’s behavior can also result when she responds to a sleep disorder with heightened tiredness, indifference, and lack of interest in the environment. This pattern may be interpreted as depression, and sleep difficulties can be seen as the result of that condition.
As the professional literature reveals, such an erroneous diagnosis can result in a failure to detect and treat a primary sleep disorder, as well as mistaken treatment for depression.
Case studies have shown that when the problem is diagnosed correctly as a primary sleep disorder and treated accordingly, there is a parallel improvement in sleep and disappearance of the “depressive” symptoms.

    Intellectual Development
Assessing intelligence in infancy is a very complex task.
Tests used on infants to assess early mental abilities that could be considered components of intelligence have generally failed to predict intelligence or cognitive abilities and achievements in later ages.
The research on the relation between sleep and intellectual development has been hampered by our limited capacity to assess intelligence in infants.
Efforts to study this issue have failed to provide a clear picture of the situation, and we need to call upon additional studies on older children and adults to help us consider the issue more systematically.
Scientists from the University of Connecticut in Evelyn Thoman’s group, which has contributed significantly to the field of the study of infant sleep, examined this question. They followed sleep of newborns over the course of their first two days of life and examined their development at the age of six months.
Special recording devices documented the babies’ sleep in hospital bassinets after birth.
The scientists then tested the mental, motor, and perceptual abilities of the babies at the age of six months, using the Bayley Test.
They found a correlation between sleep measures of the newborns on their first day of life and their development six months later.
Some scientists found a correlation between sleep disorders in infancy, especially those that are caused by respiratory problems, and possible shortfalls in intellectual development and academic achievements at a later age.
Other studies, however, found no comprehensible correlation between sleep and later mental function.
Studies on older children and adults have shown that sleep disorders or insufficient sleep primarily interfere with cognitive abilities associated with attention and concentration.
That is to say that the ability to focus on certain stimuli for extended time deteriorates.
People who don’t get enough sleep react more slowly and make more mistakes on tasks that demand attention and continuous concentration. Although the question of sleep and attention has not been directly studied in infants, some support for their correlation comes from indirect approaches.
For example, mothers described their babies (aged nine to twenty-four months) who suffered from sleep problems as having trouble concentrating on play or a particular activity for an extended length of time, and as easily distracted by other stimuli.
In another recent study, sleep scientists examined the relationship between sleep patterns and learning skills, concentration, and attention among school-aged children.
The sleep patterns of the children were examined objectively by using sleep watches, and their learning functions were examined by computerized tests.
Similar to the results in studies of adults, they found that children whose quality of sleep deteriorated (as manifested by many or lengthy awakenings from sleep during the night) also had decreased attention abilities.
These findings support the assumption that these critical functions for learning and academic achievement are adversely affected by sleep disorders among children.
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that if “normal” children are requested to shorten their sleep for experimental purposes, they suffer negative consequences, and their learning and attention abilities are significantly compromised.
On the basis of what we have learned about older children and adults and from the limited information on infants, it is fair to conclude that the intellectual abilities of infants are challenged by disrupted or insufficient sleep.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Teach Your Baby to Read and Boost Its IQ!

Teaching your baby to read is becoming more and more high priority for parents now as it becomes clear that learning to read at a young age offers numerous advantages for the child once he or she begins school. Studies have consistently found that teaching a baby to read and helping children develop phonemic awareness well before entering school can significantly improve their development in reading and spelling. However, when it comes to teaching babies to read, there are two main teaching methods.

These two main methods of teaching a baby or child to read are the whole language method, and the phonics and phonemic awareness method (the phonetic approach), which should be the preferred teaching method in helping children learn to read. Some prefer the whole language method, while others use the phonics approach, and there are also educator that use a mix of different approaches. With the Look-say approach of whole language learning, a child begins with memorizing sight words, and then taught various strategies of figuring out the text from various clues.

The whole language method produces inaccurate and poor readers compared to students of the phonetic approach. Using the whole word approach, English is being taught as an ideographic language such as Chinese. One of the biggest arguments from whole-language advocates is that teaching a baby to read using phonics breaks up the words into letters and syllables, which have no actual meaning, yet they fail to acknowledge the fact that once the child is able to decode the word, they are able to actually READ that entire word, pronounce it, and understand its meaning. So in practicality, it's a very weak argument. English is an alphabetic system, and unlike Chinese, it is not an ideograph like Chinese characters, and should not be taught using an ideographic approach.

I always say that if your baby can speak, then you can begin to teach your baby to read. I won't mention any names here, but I think most parents are probably aware of one very popular "reading" program, which is a whole word approach. Using this method, your baby simply learns to memorize the words without actually reading the words. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that teaching your baby to read using the whole word approach is an effective method. In fact, there are large numbers of studies which have consistently stated that teaching children to reading using phonemic awareness is a highly effective method.

    Teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to phonemic awareness. - statement made by the National Reading Panel

I do think that the debate on the effectiveness of teaching a baby to read using either the whole language or phonics method is settled by the statements made by the National Reading Panel. They reviewed over 1,960 different studies to make their conclusions.

In fact, while my wife was pregnant with our first child, I began doing extensive research on the subject on how to teach my baby to read - after birth, of course. Like most parents I also came across the popular whole word teaching approach being heavily marketed. Seeing the infomercials got me quite excited actually, seeing the babies on TV "reading". But after trying it out, it occurred to me that the our baby wasn't actually "reading", but actually "memorizing", and I thought to myself, how are my children supposed to read newer, and more complicated words as they grow older without an appropriate method of decoding those words? This is where my long and extensive research into phonics and phonemic awareness began.

After many hours of research and learning as much as I could, I felt comfortable enough with our simple phonemic awareness teaching method, that my wife and I began giving brief 3 to 5 minute lessons to our daughter, aged 2 years and 8 months. Within just a few short weeks, her reading ability (and I mean actual reading ability, not memorization) was astounding, even for me as the parent who gave the reading instructions. Friends and family alike, were simply flabbergasted at what our daughter was capable of reading at just 2 years and 11 months. Please watch the video above, composed of clips of her reading randomly created sentences for reading fun.

I simply can't imagine this kind of progress possible with the whole word approach - just think of the tens and hundreds of words a young child would have to memorize!

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

How to Add Spice And Keep the Love in Your Marriage.

We've heard the term 'two old marrieds' before. Most of us 'younger marrieds' harbor dreams of getting to that point. Some of us find it unappealing and unexciting. After all, what would you always prefer? A marriage as comfy as an old sock or the one hyped up in romantic novels and comedies?

Interestingly, it does take years of passion, love and intimacy to get to the point where a couple is so comfortable with each other that they finish each other's sentences and depend on each other. Want to know a secret? Studies say that couples like these have an even better sex life in their marital futures than the ones with all the passion at the start then burn out later on. 

Why? Because these savvy couples don't let up on keeping the intimacy, passion and spice in their marriages. They've built it up through the years to what we can call as a marriage 'art form'.



How can you learn these spicy tips to keep the love in your marriage? Here's some of them!

1. Prioritize each other.

This is the mother of all tips. Successful old marrieds have come to realize that above all relationships each one has in their lives ' even kids, own parents, siblings, co-workers, best buds ' a couple has to prioritize their marriage.

Why? Ultimately, it will be just the two of you going through life together and you made the promise to do so. People fail to realize that your spouse is your first and foremost priority! They allow their marriages to get caught in between squabbling kids, family politics and even work obligations. Big no-no.

Your spouse has to know that he or she can trust on you to do what's best for the relationship and vice versa, that he or she is your best friend and will never let you down. When you work as a team, you face the obligations you have towards others as a team.

2. Don't give up dating... Each other!

The humdrum of life, kids and laundry can take a way time for each other. Don't allow it! If you're the spontaneous type, rethink your understanding because you really do have to set a date to date your spouse ' and keep it regular!

You can even take turns planning surprise dates. They don't have to be grand, they just have to be time off to feed number one above. And, don't forget, they same way you are creative in dating your spouse, learn to be creative in the bedroom!

3. Fight fair, laugh always.

You might think the elements in this tip are not related but they absolutely are! It's all a matter of attitude. How do you see fighting or arguing in your relationship? How do you see humor? If you can inject both with a positive approach always, then you realize that it all comes from the inside.

Learn how to fight constructively with the correct communication tools. And don't take fighting too seriously. Laugh with your spouse at your annoying little fights. See them both as essential to your marriage.

4. Talk, discuss, agree to disagree!

As a couple, it's better if you share a majority of your beliefs and perspectives about life. But, even if you don't, talking, discussing and bantering are important in keeping the spice in your marriage. You can even agree to disagree and that's that! The more you talk, the more you get to know what your spouse is thinking and feeling. The more you get to know the real person behind the words. The more opportunities you find that you still surprise each other after all!

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Issues with Sleep And Nighttime Feedings

Although your baby may give up regular nighttime feedings on his own by the time he’s three months old, do not expect – or insist – that such a young infant give them up altogether, all of a sudden.
But if your child is at least three months old, still nurses or requires a bottle at bedtime, and needs to eat again several more times during the night, then the extra feedings may well be causing the extra wakings. If that is the case, you may be able to help him sleep better by decreasing the number of these feedings.
However, if your baby takes in a substantial amount of food – from extended feedings at the breast, or bottles adding up to more than eight ounces over the course of the night – then he has learned that certain times of night are mealtimes. To eliminate these feedings suddenly wouldn’t be wise or nice.
The amount of milk or juice your child drinks during the night may be considerable. If he finishes four full eight-ounce bottles, that is a large amount for even an adult to consume overnight.


Solving The Problem
If you have concluded that excessive and unnecessary feedings at night are disrupting your child’s sleep, you will be relieved to learn that although such feedings can lead to severe sleep disturbances, the problem is also one of the easiest to fix.
Two things need to be addressed. The first is to reduce or eliminate the nighttime feedings to avoid their various sleep-disrupting effects. The second is to teach your child new sleep associations so that he can fall asleep without being held, without eating, and without sucking on the breast or bottle. You can do these things at the same time, or one at a time.
To fix the problems caused by the feedings, start by gradually decreasing the number of nighttime feedings, their size, or both. Just don’t stop the feedings suddenly. A program designed to allow new patterns to develop will be easier for him to follow.
Your goal is to gradually move your child’s feelings of hunger out of the nighttime and into the daytime. Once there is only a single remaining nighttime feeding left, you can choose to stop that feeding right away – instead of gradually – if you prefer, since the total amount of ingested food during the night is now fairly small.
If you are working on sleep associations and hunger patterns simultaneously, put your child in bed as soon as each feeding is over, even if he wakes and begins to cry. If you nurse him and he sleeps next to you, move him off of you when the feeding is done so that he can learn to fall asleep without using your breast as a pacifier. You’ve just fed him, so he is not hungry – now you are only changing his expectation of what happens while he falls asleep.
Within a week, if all goes well, you will have finished cutting down or even eliminating the nighttime feedings. After that, continue applying the technique of progressive waiting at any waking at night (except for feeding times) until the wakings stop. It should not take more than another few days.