5 articles I loved this week. (Weekly Smart Picks #44)

Happy almost Valentine's Day! This week's selections are all quite thought-provoking. I'd love to know what you think, especially about letting our kids change and learning to read in English.
 

Photo: Kenny Cole/Flickr, The Atlantic online

Photo: Kenny Cole/Flickr, The Atlantic online

How spelling (and the English language) can keep kids from learning.  

Our son is in the very long process of learning how to read, so this article about the difficulty of learning to read in English resonated with me. I mean, "ch" sounds like Charlie, except for when it sounds like Christmas, right? The writer speaks to kids in other cultures learning to read in under a year, as well as some of the movements afoot to "tidy up" the spelling of certain English words. 


 

Photo: New Yorker Online

Photo: New Yorker Online

What is the neuroscience behind kids learning how to read?

There is a great deal of data that points to the importance of years 0-5 in kids' brain development. That remains true, however, a new study shows that the brain also undergoes many changes from ages 6 to 9 that are thanks to both nature and nurture. There is a visible indicator, visible when looking at a child's brain, that helps explain why some kids have an easier time learning to read than others (among a variety of other factors). 
 

 

Photo: Suzanne DeChillo, New York Times

Photo: Suzanne DeChillo, New York Times

Do you let your kids change?

I loved reading this perspective about the importance of letting our children change. So often, we decide a child is "into ____," is "a bit of a ____," or is "always _____." Like everyone, kids can change, and we have to let go of their old ways to truly embrace the new. 


 

A look at the trends in (P)K-12 education. 
This is one of the most interesting presentations I have seen about the trends in education in the US. The slides stand on their own, with a great deal of historical data and predictions about the evolutions we will see over the coming years. This article is technically a few weeks old, but a former colleague of mine from Google recently sent it my way, so it is newto methis week!



 

Photo: Bing Nursery School, NPR online

Photo: Bing Nursery School, NPR online

How do kids learn through blocks, and are screens disrupting these learnings?
NPR has a series exploring iconic objects that are a part of our educational lives. Most recently, Eric Westervelt looked at building blocks. His Q&A with Dr. Dimitri Christakis is quite interesting. They move from discussing blocks to exploring the impact of screens on kids' brains. While it may be easy to use this interview to draw a "less screens = better" conclusion, I would argue that we should use the data Dr. Christakis cites to better inform how our kids engage with television and games, and more closely monitor what they are consuming.