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Teaching Kids To Code, The Early Education Gap, Breadwinner Moms

May 31, 2013

Early Education: The 30 Million Word Moral Obligation

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave more details this week on President Obama's $92 Billion Preschool and Early Education Initiatives in this webcast event at the Brookings Institution.  Follow @ArneDuncan and the #PreKPlan conversation on Twitter.  Children in poor families start kindergarten having heard 30 million fewer words than their wealthier peers - which can't be helping the reading comprehension problems reported this week by Motoko Rich in the New York Times.

Know a low-income family with young kids? The Head Start and Early Head Start programs are getting additional funding to help.

Looking for other inspiration on how to help?  Videos of Bill Gates, John Legend, Ken Robinson, and many other speakers at TED Talks Education, which aired live May 7th on PBS, are now all available online.

Professional Moms Kick Ass

Pew researchers Wendy Wang, Kim Parker, and Paul Taylor report their latest findings on the Breadwinner "phemomenon":  women increasingly responsible for family income - e.g. total family income is $2000 higher when mother, not father, is primary earner.  No surprise to me as our supermom's out winning bread right now while dad works on a free parenting newsletter with no clear revenue model (yet).

Speaking of Kicking Ass (Without Actually Striking)

I don't anticipate regular martial arts coverage here, but this piece about the Kapacidade Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program founded by Kyra Gracie to teach self defense to street children in Rio favelas is fascinating.  And if bullying is on your radar, check out the pioneering work the Gracie family has done using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to prevent bullying.

Help Wanted: (Electronic) Babysitter

We lost a key member of our household workforce this week when Netflix ended it's business deal with Viacom, meaning Diego's no longer available to e-babysit our kids.  I'm looking at Amazon Instant Video as a replacement.  Or maybe we'll just double down on good old fashioned picture books - despite growing use of touch devices for reading, parents aren't giving up the book any time soon.

Today's Kindergartners Can Code!

Educator Margaret Powers put together a nice overview of tools and techniques for teaching kindergartners to code, then Lifehacker came out with an even more comprehensive overview of kids' coding.  Our kids are a bit young yet, but I hope soon to read Brandon Hansen's recently published book about programmer parents sharing their passion with their kids: A Is For Array.  But before you join my wife and I in relying on a pay-for-college plan that involves the kids becoming financially self-sufficient internet startup executives by 7th grade, you might want to check out Shuchi Grover's opinion that learning to code isn't enough.

But Yesterday's Legos Still Going Strong

Kids may be coding, but according to Alexandra Lange's New Yorker book review of "Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury America" by Amy F. Ogata, creative toys and play spaces haven't changed all that much in the last half century.  Why mess with success, when you can build a full-scale X-wing fighter out of Legos that have existed in their current form since the 1960s.   If you do want to push the envelope of creative play, recently published Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Silvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager could be a great place to start.

And Happiness is Still Going Strong Too, Right?

Heidi Grant Halvorson reports on several recent studies to paint a picture of How Happiness Changes With Age in The Atlantic.

I'm Not A 2 Yr Old, But I Do Play One On TV

Dad Matthew Clarke and friend David Milchard as his two-year old daughter in their second hilarious installment of the viral video series Convos With 2 Yr Old

Book/Toy/App of The Week

My Little Geek - A Kickstarter campaign by Kiwi husband and wife team Andrew and Sarah Spear

Song of The Week

"The Clapping Song" - recorded by West Indian soul singer Shirley Ellis in 1965