Summer reading for play and progress

Summer is finally here! The days are longer and the sun is warmer. The barbecue is on and friends and family play outdoors. As you savor the changes I encourage you to weave reading into your summer days and nights. The children in your life will benefit so much.

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Babies love to read. So do toddlers. “Books build better brains” says Reach out and Read and their web site has simple yet powerful ways to foster the habit of reading with even the smallest child. Reading aloud helps children acquire early language skills, develop positive associations with books and helps children build a stronger foundation for school success.

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Click image to enlarge graphic. Source: The First Book Blog

For school-age children, summer reading is key for maintaining and strengthening the literacy skills gained in the previous school year. On the PBS Parents web site national education consultant Julie M. Wood, Ed.D. says that “the stakes for children who do not read over summer vacation are high. Substantial research on this topic shows it’s usually the students who can least afford to lose ground as readers who are most likely to suffer from summer reading loss and fall far behind their peers. The few months of loss in reading skills compounds over the years; by the time children reach middle school, those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.”

Dr. Wood says that if children read just six books over summer vacation, they will likely avoid summer reading loss. From PBS here are a few ideas for reaching–and going beyond–this six book goal: Continue reading

Poverty as a Childhood Disease: A View from Wisconsin

Recently, Perri Klass, M.D. wrote an article on the New York Times blog titled “Poverty as a Childhood Disease”. Dr. Klass shared that at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, there was a new call for pediatricians to address childhood poverty as a national problem, rather than wrestling with its consequences case-by-case in the exam room. To further Dr. Klass’s discussion, WECA board member Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD wrote the following blog post.

“Poverty is neurotoxic.”  Yes, those words should make you sit up and take notice.  I’ve been saying them for about a year now.  It’s a conclusion I’ve come to after seeing the dramatic studies which show substantial deficits in learning among children who have experienced adversity early on in their lives — and with few or no strong, supportive relationships to buffer the effects of that adversity.  I am proud to be part of both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academic Pediatric Association, who are calling attention to the concept of poverty as a childhood disease.

Dipesh Navsaria, MD

WECA Board Member, Dipesh Navsaria, M.D.explains the importance of early childhood education on brain development.

I’ve seen this as a problem throughout many areas of Wisconsin.  I’ve noticed it in Native American populations when I’ve worked with them.  I saw it in the hospital as a physician-in-training.  And in my clinical practice at Access Community Health Center in South Madison, I evaluate many children for “school issues” or “behavior problems”.  They are rarely straightforward cases. When I “go digging” in their histories, I find that early exposure to adversity has left a legacy we don’t want children to have: lifelong impairment in learning, thinking, and emotional skills.  Even worse, if we examine the data, we find that traditional medical illnesses also may have significant roots in these issues. Continue reading