Summer Reading Tips for Vacationing Kids

Summer outdoor play is central to a child’s development. Many experts agree that reading, however, is just as important.

According to Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., senior vice president of education outreach for Sylvan Learning, summer is the perfect time for learning and discovery. “It’s very important that children continue to practice their academic skills in summer as strong reading skills are incredibly important for all subjects in school. The more children read, the more they’ll enjoy reading, and the better readers they’re likely to become.

A Change in Lighting Helps Aging Eyesight

Everyone experiences changes in their eyesight as they age. For many, it means buying reading glasses to read a menu, newspaper or other small print. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), changing the lighting in your surroundings can go a long way to enhance reading ability and increase comfort.

“Often, the first thing people notice as they get older is their loss of ability to see distance,” notes Terry McGowan, director of engineering & technology for ALA and owner of Lighting Ideas in Cleveland. “That happens around age 45 and is called presbyopia. By 60, most people have a ‘fixed focus’ optical system and need glasses. After age 60, eye and visual system changes accelerate, so that less light reaches the eye. Therefore,” McGowan says, “people need more light to see details as they age.”

How to Help Children Become Active Readers

Most parents understand the value of sharing reading experiences with their child. However, not all realize that the way they read to their little one, and even how they interact with their child during playtime, can impact learning.  Parents can help grow literacy skills while teaching their child to draw, play catch or count numbers. What’s most important is making these experiences fun, engaging and memorable.

“The more children interact with reading material, the more active and confident readers they become,” says Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, literacy learning designer at LeapFrog, a developer of innovative, technology-based educational products. “Read with your child at an early age and build fun daily routines that incorporate reading.”

Reinforce School Lessons at Home for Better Learning

As an adult, you may know that lessons learned in high school or college can quickly go by the wayside. Studies have shown that children struggling in school score higher on achievement tests in June than they do at the end of the traditional summer break. Even more concerning are findings that indicate how these learning losses can add up with each passing year. In fact, by the time they reach middle school, some students may experience a 2-year lag in reading achievement.

Back-to-School List Should Include an Eye Exam

As parents cross backpacks and notebooks off of back-to-school lists, many neglect to consider the most important learning tool children have – their eyes.

Many classroom activities, including reading, writing and computer work, require vision, so children with vision problems may fall behind their peers. Worse, they can have trouble concentrating and develop behavioral problems, which are often mistaken for attention deficit or learning disorders. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 60 percent of the children described as “problem learners” have vision problems.

Fight Summer Brain Drain

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The National Center for Summer Learning states, “Most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over summer months.” Therefore, even the best students forget lessons they have learned during the school year.

Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels, offers tips to make summer learning fun:

* Writing. Encourage your child to start a diary or write letters to a friend. If you are traveling on a vacation, ask your child to keep a journal recording where you stayed and what you did. Each day, talk through the activities with your child and help with the journal. It not only improves writing skills, but also creates great family memories.

* Math. Everyday, ordinary activities are packed with opportunities to develop and sharpen math skills. Grocery shopping involves weighing fruits and vegetables, comparing prices and making change. Cooking provides practice with organization, planning and following a recipe. Help children select recipes, create an ingredients list, shop and prepare a family meal together.

* Reading. You can’t start too early. You can’t read too much. Reading to young children nurtures an interest in language, words and communication. For older kids, reading together can be fun and interesting. Librarians can recommend books appropriate for a child’s reading level and interests, and many libraries offer free children’s programs and clubs.

* Research. Through the Web site www.BookAdventure.com, children (grades K-8) create personalized book lists from more than 7,500 recommended titles, take comprehension quizzes, and earn points towards small prizes. It is designed to motivate students to read more often, for longer periods of time and with greater understanding.

* Summer Programs. There are many enrichment activities available for children when school is out of session. Sylvan Learning offers engaging programs that keep the interest and fun in learning alive through the summer and into the school year. Visit www.SylvanLearning.com for additional information.

Summer is a great time for families to work and play together using interactive activities.

Sylvan Learning offers a free “Summer Fun & Learning Guide for Parents” — fun, grade-specific activities that nurture reading,

writing and math skills. Visit the “Parent Resources” area of www.SylvanLearning.com to download a copy.

To learn more about academic opportunities for children in grades pre-K through 12, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS.

Reading For Success

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – We read directions to perform a task, we read newspapers to be informed and we read novels for the literary experience. Students are now required on state exams to have solid reading skills, and children who do not master “reading for different purposes” may have difficulty completing job-related tasks or reading for enjoyment as an adult.

As students become sophisticated readers, their reading behaviors become more analytical and their thinking more abstract. They begin to dissect words for meaning while expanding their vocabularies.

The more students read, the more enjoyable reading becomes and the more reading skills are used in real-life situations. These skills transfer to classroom learning and may lead to higher standardized test scores.

To help parents nurture their children’s reading behaviors, the experts at Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages and skill levels, recommend that parents spend at least 10 to 15 minutes a day engaged in a language arts activity with children. Sylvan offers tips for encouraging “reading for different purposes”:

* Encourage reading a variety of texts, including books, poems, magazine articles, manuals, cookbooks and comic books.

* Look at every reading opportunity as a chance to strengthen comprehension skills.

* Identify a purpose for reading anything that includes text. This could be a menu, advertisement, recipe, textbook or a full-length novel. Is the purpose to entertain, inform, describe or persuade?

* Actively engage children in the reading process. Ask children to explain the main characters, plot, conflict, setting or lesson in a story. Encourage them to explain the purpose of an ad in a magazine. Ask your child to summarize the steps needed to complete a set of instructions or perform a task.

* Encourage students to paraphrase what they learn from everything that they read.

The Internet also provides reading opportunities for children of all ages. For example, www.BookAdventure.com is a free, Sylvan-created interactive reading motivation program. Children choose books from more than 7,000 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem accumulated points for small prizes. Book Adventure also offers teacher and parent resources to help children develop a lifelong love of reading.

For more educational resources for children in grades pre-K through 12, visit www.SylvanLearning.com.

Bifocal Wearers Make the Switch to Multifocal Contacts

<b>Bifocal Wearers Make the Switch to Multifocal Contacts</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Patrick Findle’s vision problems started slowly. “Once in a while I felt more comfortable reading when I took my glasses off and held whatever it was close to my face,” said Findle. “Then it became more and more prevalent — and then it became problematic.”

Findle is one of roughly 90 million Americans — and growing — who have this condition. Known as presbyopia, the condition is so common it will affect nearly everyone after age 40.

Normally, the eye changes focus by using a muscle to change the shape of the lens. But as the eye ages, its lens loses the ability to change shape, causing close-up images to appear blurry.

Presbyopia usually starts after age 40 and continues to worsen into a person’s 60s. But life doesn’t exactly stop after 40 — patients with presbyopia need to remain comfortable as they perform everyday activities.

In the past, bifocals were the best option. But bifocals can be unwieldy and uncomfortable to wear. Findle described having to hold his head at a certain angle to see his television or computer screen.

Luckily, Americans can now explore other presbyopia-correction options. For example, CooperVision makes several multifocal contact lens products to help patients see clearly at every distance.

Findle, after trying bifocals, decided to give multifocal contact lenses a try. “What’s overwhelmed me is how comfortable multifocal contact lenses are,” said Findle. “Contacts really give me the best option to see clearly, near and far. Glasses are so much more of a compromise.”

Findle also likes the contacts’ convenience — they don’t slip down his nose when he’s working outside, he finds reading easier and he never worries about misplacing glasses — unlike his wife, who owns 10 pair.

“With multifocal lenses, both seeing the computer screen and reading are clear and easy,” said Findle. “My correction with multifocal contact lenses is 20/20.”

For more information about using multifocal contact lenses to correct presbyopia, visit www.coopervision.com.

First Ever Braille U.S. Coin Promises Brighter Future for America’s Blind

<b>First Ever Braille U.S. Coin Promises Brighter Future for America’s Blind</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Each year, nearly 70,000 Americans become legally blind, according to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The real problem blind individuals face is not the loss of their eyesight, but the misconceptions and stereotypes that exist about their capabilities and about Braille.

Braille is the most effective and powerful tool ever invented for the blind to become educated, obtain jobs, pursue stimulating careers and enjoy the same opportunities and independence as sighted individuals. However, the Braille literacy rate among blind children today is only 10 percent.

“Literacy should be for all people, but it isn’t,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). “Illiteracy among the blind is on the rise, contributing to a shocking 70 percent unemployment rate among today’s 1.3 million blind Americans. This would be viewed as a national outrage if the same crisis faced sighted individuals, and yet blind people continue to be deprived of the Braille education and resources they need.”

In a recent report to the nation, “The Braille Literacy Crisis in America — Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind,” the NFB attributed the crisis to numerous factors, including false beliefs that Braille is “too complicated to learn” and that technological advances can substitute for Braille, limited access to quality instruction and the lack of standardized Braille teaching methods and credentialed instructors.

The NFB is determined to double the number of school-age children reading Braille by 2015.

“When the blind can read, the blind can achieve,” said Maurer. “To help us combat illiteracy, the U.S. Mint has issued a new commemorative coin with a special mission — the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. It’s the first U.S. coin in history to feature tactile, readable Braille, and it marks a turning point for blind people of all ages.”

Issued on March 26th in honor of the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind that bears his name, the coin symbolizes the most significant investment in literacy for the blind. Funds raised through the coin’s sale will support NFB’s “Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign, a national initiative to increase access to Braille instruction, advance new Braille reading and writing technology, expand Braille mentoring, and provide reading materials to tens of thousands of blind children and adults.

Only 400,000 coins have been minted, and they will not be available for purchase after Dec. 31, 2009. To order the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, visit www.usmint.gov or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). For more information on the NFB and its national Braille literacy campaign, visit www.braille.org.