From March 1996 "Teachable Moment":
Did everyone see the article in the Tallahassee Democrat (Feb. 21, 1996) linking Alzheimer's with lack of early linguistic skills? This was an interesting study done on a group of nuns. When the researchers examined essays written by the nuns in earlier years (they each had to write a personal history), there was a correlation seen between the ones that displayed poor linguistic abilities and the development of Alzheimer's disease later in life. It was pointed out that this may be a chicken or egg coming first situation. In other words, maybe the Alzheimer's is present much earlier than anyone has suspected and interferes with linguistic abilities even in early life. Then again, maybe the development of linguistic abilities will help to ward off the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researcher is saying it certainly can't hurt young people to develop their linguistic abilities regardless of not knowing for sure at this point what this study really means.
I would like to encourage all of us to realize the importance that a single book checked out of the library can play in the education of our child. I ran across an autobiography titled, "Taking Flight" by Vicki Van Meter last month. Lindley and I began reading this book together.(Up to date note: Lindley was 8 years old at this time). It's written by a girl who set a goal of flying across the country at the age of 11. She followed that up with a flight across the ocean.
We were able to use this book in so many ways! We used maps and the globe to track her flights as we read along. Now everytime Lindley sees Greenland on the globe it really stands out to her! Vicki Van Meter discusses the importance of math and goes through the process of figuring her amount of gasoline needed for the number of miles she would be flying. She described some of the people she encountered. She also went into some history of important events and people. We followed it all up with Lindley writing a letter to Vicki Van Meter to tell her what she had liked best about the book and how she had used it in her homeschooling. The only drawback to the whole thing is that Lindley is determined she is going to take flying lessons soon! (Up to date note: Vicki Van Meter did respond to Lindley with a handwritten letter and a signed photograph. It was a great payoff for Lindley's studies!)
If your child has a favorite author, try to find a biography about him/her. Jared has read biographies on Charles Schultz, Jim Davis, Jules Verne, etc. He recently finished the biography on Jules Verne and now wants to read his other books. Jared found it interesting that Jules Verne had studied to be a lawyer at his father's request. We all discussed what events in Jules Vernes' life had helped him to develop his imagination to come up with some of the story lines he developed.
Let's all encourage our children, as well as ourselves, to keep reading, writing and developing our linguistic abilities!