Lack of math education may shortchange a teenager’s developing brain

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some teens study lots of math. Others avoid it. Does it make a difference? Yes, and not only to career prospects. New research suggests it might also affect brain chemistry, and the way that students learn. How many years of math should you take in high school? Read More »

Preschool science experiment: Using ice to teach kids about scientific concepts (with crucial safety tips)

© 2008 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A preschool science experiment is an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of observation, prediction, and testing (Gelman and Brenneman 2004). Exciting? Yes. But it’s also tricky. On the one hand, research suggests that young children don’t think as creatively or as critically when Read More »

The effects of television on learning to speak: Is it helpful or harmful?

toddler watching television

© 2009 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What are the effects of television on language learning? Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk. What’s going on? Some people conclude that the effects of Read More »

Teaching critical thinking: The first step is to pause and reflect

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved Why do we fall for fallacies? Why do we get duped by lies? It isn’t because we lack brain power, and it isn’t because we are helpless to overcome our own biases. Instead, what’s really crucial is whether we take the time to pause and reflect — to consciously Read More »

Spaced learning: Why kids benefit from shorter lessons — with breaks

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What is the “spaced learning” effect? If your child needs to learn something — and you want that learning to stick — the best approach is to space learning sessions apart in time. A single, long lesson is usually less helpful than multiple, short lessons. A break Read More »

Choosing books for beginning readers: Sometimes less is more

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The most helpful books for beginning readers keep fancy details to a minimum, and this applies to imagery as well as to text. “Busy” illustrations can be distracting, and interfere with a young child’s reading comprehension. Books designed for new and emerging readers are sometimes very exciting Read More »

Improving spatial skills in children and teens: 12 evidence-based tips

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Spatial skills are crucial for success in STEM and the visual arts. So what should we do to improve spatial reasoning? Studies suggest that kids can hone their skills through a combination of physical exploration, spatial talk, hands-on activities, and explicit instruction. Can your child rotate an Read More »

Music and intelligence: Do music lessions improve cognitive skills?

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Music lessons can benefit a child’s general academic skills, but so too can art lessons. So does music training deliver any special cognitive benefits? Kids hone auditory skills that can help them decipher speech. And new research hints that certain kinds of music training may boost math Read More »