Child Development

Boston Is A City Of Readers

By Kids Media Matters   |   Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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Theresa Lynn is the executive director of ReadBoston, a nonprofit children’s literacy program.

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Theresa Lynn is the executive director of ReadBoston, a nonprofit children’s literacy program founded by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. In this role, she has led many new literacy efforts to address reading development, including the creation of the Early Words program, which seeks to substantially increase verbal interaction between parents and infants and toddlers. She has also overseen the development of the Environmental Literacy Project, a multifaceted program which seeks to increase literacy skills using environmental themes. This program has been extremely successful, especially with boys and reluctant readers.

What impact do the ReadBoston book distributions have on young children? 
The research on the “summer slide” is very clear. Children who have access to books in the summer can avoid the academic slide that many children from families with low-income experience. As few as six books can make a difference. Free book programs are important to young children because the “summer slide” effect is cumulative. So after a few summers without access to books and educational engagement programs over the summer years, an at-risk student might be as much as a full academic year behind his fellow classmates. By reaching them early, we are working with WGBH to stem this problem before it starts.

Tell us about the many programs that ReadBoston sponsors for young children, and how Boston families can access them.
The centerpiece of ReadBoston’s summer activities is our popular and ubiquitous Storymobile program, which will visit 80 Boston locations each week for seven weeks. At each stop, children receive a free, new book and participate in an engaging storytelling session. The times and dates are listed on our website, and all public locations are open to everyone.
 
New this year, we are adding two evening locations, one outside the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester and one at the Pond in Jamaica Plain. We also have an exciting week of special Storymobile events planned for the week of August 15, including sessions at Fenway Park and the Boston Harbor Islands, so please check out our website, and visit our Fan Page on Face Book.
 
Much of our focus at ReadBoston is on strengthening the capacity and skills of people that interact with children, including parents, but also childcare staff, teachers, after-school staff and para-professionals. Strong literacy practices include creating a print-rich environment, reading-aloud, lots of engaging verbal interaction, extending the book themes through drama, singing, and art and, of course, access to lots of great books!

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WGBH’s Resident Talking Dog Martha Helps Increase Children’s Vocabulary

By Kids Media Matters   |   Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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Three independent studies report that the highly rated WGBH and PBS KIDS series Martha Speaks is an effective tool across platforms (broadcast and mobile devices) in increasing young children’s vocabulary. The studies noted increases comparable to traditional classroom vocabulary instruction (such as reading out loud) for kids who viewed multiple episodes of the show, as well as gains of up to 31 percent in the vocabulary tested among low-income children who played with the Martha Speaks Dog Party iPhone app.

“We’re thrilled with the impressive impact the project is having on increasing young children’s vocabulary,” says Carol Greenwald, WGBH senior executive producer. “Vocabulary is critical to reading comprehension and a key predictor of reading success. By the time children enter kindergarten, however, a great chasm in vocabulary knowledge exists between disadvantaged kids and their peers—and the former never catch up. Across multiple platforms, Martha Speaks has been able to enhance kids’ knowledge of words through the context of a talking dog and great stories.”

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Kids Classical Channel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
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Perform Your Own Circus Tricks

Thursday, October 28, 2010
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Ever wanted to be a circus performer, or just looking for new ways to entertain your friends and family? Learn how to perform these tricks with this collection of DIY tips, brought to you from the cast of Circus. Watch Circus beginning Wednesday, Nov 3 at 9pm on WGBH 2 (view clips and schedules).

How to Do a Handstand

Some circus acrobats seem as comfortable walking on their hands as they do on their feet. Big Apple Circus performer Christian Stoinev shows students the basics of the handstand and provides a few tips for getting started.


How to Juggle

Juggling in the circus takes years of practice, so why not get started now? Learn juggling basics from master juggler Jake LaSalle. He demonstrates how to build up from juggling one ball to three.


How to Make a Clown Face

What would the circus be without clowns? Big Apple Circus clown Glen Heroy gives you some tips and ideas for creating your own clown face.


How to Train a Dog at Home

Training dogs like Luciano Anastasini takes patience and good rapport with our canine companions. In this video, students can learn to teach their dogs simple tricks by observing and rewarding their behavior.


How to Walk a Tightrope

Walking the tightrope requires focus and balance, but anyone can do it. Wire walker Sarah Schwarz demonstrates the basics of tightrope walking. With patience and practice, students can learn to balance like the pros.

Oct. 13: Lang Lang

By Laura Carlo   |   Tuesday, October 12, 2010
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There are so many exceptional young pianists right now that if you are as big a piano fan as I am it’s like an avalanche of riches. Their training is top-notch and maybe that’s part of the problem. There are so many, so good in their own ways, and yet what makes one stand out above another.  Well, one pianist has captured my attention lately, not just for his performance ability but also for his heartfelt commitment  to young children wanting to study piano.  World-renowned pianist Lang Lang released a CD in late August of his concert recorded and filmed “live” in Vienna’s legendary Musikverein concert hall.

 

I’ve already played a cut for you from this CD... but it occurred to me that since it was released in the summer when so many folks are still away enjoying the last bits of vacation time you might not have heard about it. The concert program and resulting CD features Lang Lang’s first-ever recording of two Beethoven sonatas, the Appassionata and the youthful Sonata Op. 2 No. 3,  plus impressionistic music by Isaac Albeniz  (Book 1 of Iberia) and finally, to help celebrate the Chopin Bicentennial, three of his most popular pieces. Born in China Lang Lang began playing the piano at age 3 and had already won the Shenyang Competition and given his first recital by 5. He shot to world-wide fame at 17 when he triumphed in the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the “Gala of the Century.”  He was listed by TIME magazine in 2009 among the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” played at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has even founded the “Lang Lang International Music Foundation” with the aim of identifying and supporting exceptionally gifted students between the ages of 6 and 10. (See a video here.)   Ever since he shot to fame China has been in the grip of a piano-learning frenzy known as the “Lang Lang Effect” and Steinway has recognized his popularity with children by creating five versions of the “Lang Lang Steinway,” designed for early music education. In recognition of his commitment to young people he was made a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in 2004. Now 28, Lang Lang has played sold-out recitals all around the world and this year and into next he is touring with the new album’s program. His official website, www.langlang.com, only lists concerts through December...and none of them mention Boston, but if you don’t yet have plans for New Year’s Eve he’ll be at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC. Listen this morning for more music from  “Lang Lang Live in Vienna....”

Electroshock Therapy Under Fire

By Adam Reilly   |   Thursday, May 10, 2012
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May 10, 2012
 
BOSTON — A Canton school for individuals with serious behavior disorders is facing national criticism over its controversial use of electroshock therapy.
 
In a recent malpractice trial, graphic video of officials at the Judge Rotenberg Center repeatedly shocking autistic teen Andre McCollins was shown in court. The video quickly went viral, prompting more than 200,000 people to sign an online petition demanding that the Rotenberg Center end the practice. 
 
The error of his ways
 
The petition drive was launched by Gregory Miller, a former teacher’s assistant at the school. On Wednesday, along with McCollins’ mother Cheryl and a representative from the online-organizing site Change.org, Miller brought those names to the State House. 
 
“We’re taught to believe this is the only school that can help these children in the whole world,” Miller said. “And then you realize afterward — what was I thinking? Because all around the world, they have programs where they use … positive support for these children.”
 
Rotenberg: take it with a grain of salt
 
On Miller’s list of politicians to visit: House Speaker Bob DeLeo, whose chamber has repeatedly stopped attempts to make shock therapy illegal.
 
Mary Ellen Burns, a spokesperson for the Rotenberg Center, told WGBH that Miller’s criticisms should be taken with a measure of skepticism. According to Burns, Miller was a passionate advocate of electroshock therapy during his employment at the Rotenberg Center. In addition, she said, he left the school after being suspended for poor performance.
 
 


About the Authors
Kids Media Matters Kids Media Matters
Every time children watch TV or surf the Web, they are learning something. But what are they learning? Grown-ups need to shepherd children through the maze of images that may shape their minds, for better or worse.


Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.

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