By Sarah Tiglao One of the best ways we can set our young children up for kindergarten and beyond is by introducing them to the alphabet and teaching letter sounds. This may sound intimidating to busy parents without training in education, but with a few tips, it can be easy and fun. Besides teaching the letters directly, one of the easiest ways to help kids learn the ABCs and understand their purpose is snuggling together while reading simple picture books and bringing the child’s attention . . .
By Mikee Mapalo Teaching your child the alphabet is one of the key things you can do at home to set them up for school success and prepare them to become a thriving reader. Letters are the building blocks of literacy, but at first it’s hard for kids to distinguish them from squiggles—much less to tell individual letters apart. Learning to recognize and identify them takes years, which is why parents are so well positioned to teach the ABCs. Fit a little alphabet play into your . . .
By Karen Williams Grief can have a lasting effect on anyone, regardless of age. Like all of us, young children feel devastated if they lose someone precious to their heart. With the confusion of not understanding what's going on, they can be left without any idea of how to cope. Fortunately, there are many literary resources available for parents to help kids heal and manage their grief. Picture books about grief and loss are a powerful way to help younger children understand the . . .
By Laila Weir Calling all pregnant moms and parents-to-be! Literacy impacts everything from academic success to income to a person’s chances of avoiding incarceration. But did you know that most American children are falling short of where they should be in reading? And being behind in elementary school predicts long-term struggles. To help your child achieve the reading success they need to pursue their full potential and create the life they deserve, you can build their language skills . . .
MayaSmart.com is your one-stop-shop for raising a reader, from evidence-based early literacy advice to fun activities that support literacy learning and awesome free educational printables. And, of course, one of the best ways to raise a reader is to read to your child (and talk about books with them, even when they’re babies—learn more in our post about how to get the most out of your read-aloud time). That’s why we publish lots of kids’ book lists and book reviews with suggestions of great . . .
By Laila Weir Reading aloud from the start is key to setting your baby on the path to literacy. But with infants, you obviously don’t have to be reading stories per se. In fact, there don’t even have to be words on the page right at first. Early on, the idea is to capture babies’ attention and engage them with your voice, gestures, and facial expressions to spur a verbal or other response of their own. Coos, babbles, and book grabs encouraged! As they get older, they’ll tune into the words . . .
By Karen Williams Picture books are a fantastic way to broach topics of importance with your little ones, and one topic that could use more attention is the relationship between senior citizens and the community at large. Increasingly, children’s books are being published that paint the elderly and the aging process in a positive light—instead of focusing on frailty and diminished capacities. Interesting children’s books about seniors share the life experiences that shaped older . . .
Traditions are one of the best parts of the holidays. The beloved dog-eared picture books, recipes passed down from generation to generation, special activities and crafts … the list could go on and on! But, this year, what if you added some new traditions to the list that also spark a deeper love of reading and support literacy? At MayaSmart.com, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate literacy into everyday life. From reading recipes together in the kitchen to sneaking spelling . . .
Kwanzaa is almost here! And Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron is on a mission to equip parents to introduce children to its festive traditions, as well as support families already celebrating. Culture Queen’s hallmark is crafting experiences that leave kids humming with positivity and enthusiasm for themselves and African American culture. “If you’re trying to find yourself and you’re trying to figure out what it means to be black and American or African American, [Kwanzaa . . .
By Andrea Hunt Want your kids to be kind, compassionate, and open-hearted? Then you’ll be pleased to know emotional intelligence, including empathy, is learnable. As parents, there’s a lot we can do to model and teach it to our children—from showing them how we engage with others in daily life to imaginative role play games. Still, there’s no one-and-done way to teach empathy to kids. It’s a gradual process, and (as parents can testify) younger children don’t always find it easy to understand . . .