August 23rd, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Photos: Inside a 'genius school' in 1948

(CNN) - Decades ago, Hunter College in New York housed a "genius school" of 3- to 11-year-olds whose IQs averaged around 150. The school taught advanced subjects that most students wouldn't encounter until high school or college - chemistry, anatomy and foreign languages, to name a few.

As LIFE magazine noted in a March 1948 feature on the school:

The school they go to is P.S. 600, part of New York’s public-school system and the only institution in the U.S. devoted entirely to the teaching and study of gifted children. It is held in a wing of the college’s main building, in whose long corridors the bright little kids from 3 to 11 years old like to stop off for between-class chats.

Offhand, young geniuses would seem to present no immediate problems because they are usually bigger, healthier and even happier than average children. However, an educational problem exists simply because they are too bright for their age. If they are promoted rapidly through school on the basis of their studies they will end up as social misfits, unable to enjoy the society of children their own age. On the other hand, if they are held back with their own age group, their quick minds are apt to stagnate.

Hunter children know they are smart, but they are more humble than cocky about their intelligence…. [A]lthough their interest are advanced, their plans for the future have a refreshing normality. There is a 9-year-old who wants to be a fur trapper, an 8-year-old who wants to be a babysitter and a 7-year-old who wants to be president of the Coca-Cola Company.

See the entire gallery on

My view: The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child

My view: The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child
Chandra Moseley and her daughter, Nya
August 23rd, 2012
02:07 AM ET

My view: The joys and challenges of raising a gifted child

By Chandra Moseley, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Chandra Moseley is a working, single mom. A resident of a Colorado city, she makes sure to expose her daughter to small-town living through weekly trips to the Rocky Mountains.

(CNN) - My daughter, who is 5, was identified last year as "gifted.” Well, I honestly had never properly understood what being "gifted" meant. I naively thought, "Oh, my baby is so advanced, she is just so smart!”

For those of you who are truly unaware of what being gifted means, let me help you understand.

Gifted students are defined by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) as those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.

The part of the definition that’s missing - and what I so desperately needed to understand - is the social and behavioral issues that may come with giftedness.

For one thing, my daughter, Nya, is a perfectionist. She gets frustrated even if she only slightly draws outside of the lines. She also gets unnerved by certain loud noises (buzzing or toilets flushing) and even the seams on her socks.  I’ve had to turn her socks inside out because the seam on her toes irritated her so much. I thought she was just being fussy.   FULL POST

June 26th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

‘Reading Rainbow’ resurfaces as an app

By Sarah Edwards, CNN

(CNN) - Butterfly in the sky I can go twice as high. . . Remember those lyrics from the once popular children’s show “Reading Rainbow”? Well, it’s back, but this time not on TV – on iPad.

Last week, Reading Rainbow host, executive producer and actor LeVar Burton, launched the Reading Rainbow app through his for-profit company RR Kidz Inc. Burton says he hopes the app will have the same impact on a new, more “digitally-native” generation as the show had on kids in the ‘80s.

The app, like the show, is aimed at children ages 3-9, who are just learning how to read. Like the show, Burton plays host, this time calling himself “Curator in Chief.” He, along with digital animations named Jane and Austin, guides children on a hot air balloon ride through the chosen story. Burton said, “The child will be able to navigate islands in a hot air balloon . . . a metaphor for a journey, a literal way to transport yourself from one place to another. The islands are themed and a child can go to these islands and find videos as well as books. Reading Rainbow was famous for giving you a backstage tour, giving you an experience that was based in the real world that was related to the literature and the featured book in every show and so the video field trips are a key component.”

The free app contains 150 books and 16 video field trips. However, to gain the full experiences parents will have to shell out $9.99 per month. That’s pretty pricey, considering the original program was free and widely available on PBS. Burton acknowledged the issue, but hopes that the education system can help bridge the gap. “We are aware that there are a lot of folks out there who don’t own iPads and can’t afford the $9.99 subscription price. We will be working, in the fullness of time, with schools, teachers and school districts all over the country. One of my goals is to make this technology, in general, universally accessible to kids. We have the ability as well as the knowledge to literally transform the way we educate our children in the United States. . . I think that with this technology, putting a tablet computer in every child’s hands should be our agenda,” Burton said.

School's out for summer...but why?
June 20th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

School's out for summer...but why?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) The reasons why America’s students enjoy around two months off every summer probably aren’t based on some archaic, farm-based education schedule, as many people believe.

They’re more likely the result of what was happening in American cities.

Flash back to the mid-1800s.  Students in rural communities were needed to help with farm work, to be sure – but not in the summertime.  Spring was the planting season, and fall was the harvesting one; summer might’ve been a great time to study, as it wouldn’t have been interrupted by work involving crops.

But in U.S. cities, where students were taught throughout the calendar year, some of the education experts and doctors of the day believed too much schooling placed a stress on kids.  And there were several factors that made summertime the ideal time for a break.

For one thing, it was hot.  We can just turn down the thermostat today, but imagine sitting in an unventilated, urban schoolhouse without air conditioning or indoor plumbing as the thermometer pushed 100.  Not a comfortable environment for learning.

For another, wealthier families – and some school administrators – took vacations in the summer.  And teachers often used the warmer months as training time.

So organizers of what came to influence our modern school year thought it best to strike summer from the academic calendar and to allow everyone, urban and rural, some time out of class.

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Filed under: Carl Azuz • Early childhood education • History • Issues
June 7th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Keeping students sharp through summer

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN)  Call it the summer slide, the seasonal slump, the brain drain or the summer slowdown.  Just don’t call it new:  The two-month period when students lose some of their academic edge has been observed for over a century.  The good news here is that experts and parents have come up with a number of ways to keep kids sharp through the summer, and we’re sharing some of them with you here.

Learn something new

“We would all expect an athlete’s or a musician’s performance to suffer if they took a long break from practice, and the same is true for our nation’s young people,” says Ron Fairchild, founder of the Smarter Learning Group.

One way to keep your student’s brain in shape is to keep the learning going.  It doesn’t have to be out of a textbook.  Swimming or SCUBA or horseback riding lessons, practicing a language while driving to your vacation destination – it all counts.

In a summer camp – particularly an outdoor one – kids take part in activities they might not otherwise do.  Some learn how to build a fire; some learn to paddle a canoe; some team up to complete a rope course.  (And even if students learn they can’t actually trust others in a “trust fall,” they’ve still learned something, right?)

Picking up a new instrument can also help keep kids engaged with learning, and there are many studies linking music with mathematics.  So if your child has always wanted to play guitar or drums (heaven help you), summer may be the perfect time to do it.

May 30th, 2012
10:40 AM ET

Girl, 6, is youngest competitor in National Spelling Bee history

By Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN) - When Lori Anne Madison, 6, takes the stage Wednesday, she will be stepping into history as the youngest person to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

The second-grader joins 277 other contestants, marking a milestone as the youngest competitor in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to the event's record books dating to 1993.

Since 1993, there have been four spellers who were 8 years old, said Mike Hickerson, the bee's communications manager.

Lori Anne beat out 21 kids in the regional bee in Prince William County in Virginia, earning a spot in the national bee.

February 21st, 2012
06:02 AM ET

My View: Encourage your kids to write

Courtesy Don Dinehart By Laura Dinehart, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note:  Laura Dinehart is an assistant professor of early childhood education at Florida International University. Her research focuses on the development and early academic outcomes of children from birth to 5 years of age.

As a researcher in the field of early childhood education, I relish the idea of uncovering how factors in early childhood related to children, families, and schools, connect to children’s academic achievement once they enter school. As a parent, I often find it exasperating.

Take for example our recent findings of a study that looked at over 3,000 preschoolers in the state ofFlorida. We found that preschoolers’ early writing skills – their ability to copy letters, shapes, and numbers – significantly predicted both their grades and standardized test scores in second grade reading and math. As a researcher, this finding was important! Public schools all over the country are dropping handwriting from their curriculum and technology has taken over the need to write anything with pencil and paper. And while newspapers and media outlets highlight this work, parents all over the country are wondering, “Is this one more thing I have to work on with my child?”

As a parent of three young children, I get it. Parents spend time reading, counting, playing outside, doing puzzles, doing extracurricular activities, and finishing homework – now the handwriting too? Do our findings mean that kids with poor writing skills in preschool are doomed to fail? Of course not! In fact, every time I talk about these results, someone inevitably says, “I had horrible handwriting when I was a kid and I did really well in school.” At this point, our study has prompted fewer answers and more questions. Do the findings overwhelmingly demonstrate that teaching handwriting in preschool will result in an improvement in academic skills in the later years? I'm not so sure, just yet. I am comfortable with the notion that early writing skills can serve at least as an indicator of later achievement.

February 14th, 2012
07:03 AM ET

Booker: Pre-Kindergarten critical for development

CNN caught up with Newark's Mayor Cory Booker to discuss the importance of college and Pre-K program. Booker was the keynote speaker for an event hosted by LEDA (Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse Amercia).

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Filed under: College • Early childhood education • Policy • video • Voices
February 13th, 2012
07:01 AM ET

Rethinking K-12 education: Crawl-12?

(CNN) – Studies show that poor children who have not attended preschool enter Kindergarten 18 months behind their peers. Christine Romans and Sam Wang discuss the need for early childhood education.

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Filed under: At Home • Early childhood education • On air • Practice • video
Can music improve behavior?
February 7th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Can music improve behavior?

By Cheryl Castro, CNN

Listen to CNN Radio's podcast on music in the classroom from Cheryl Castro.

(CNN) – There is much research to show that music can improve academic performance. But what about behavior? Kindergarten teacher Shelvia Ivey sees the effects every day in her classroom.

"It's fun to see the shy ones blossom and music is a way for them to do that," Ivey said. For "some of the more aggressive children who have a hard time controlling their instincts, it's a time for them to express themselves, too and it's easier for them to control their instincts. And they're allowed to be expressive, and be unique."

The kids in Ivey's class are bright-eyed and about as focused as you can expect from 5-year-olds and younger. About a dozen of them hop, dance and clap along at a metro Atlanta Primrose school, a private school that offers programs for infants through kindergarten.

Over the fall, Primrose added The Music Class to the curriculum at all 240 of its schools spread across 16 states. Jason Caesar’s two active young sons, 2-year-old Kingston and 3-year-old Phoenix, attend the school. "The music definitely tames the savage 3-year-old," Caesar said.

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Filed under: Behavior • Early childhood education • Music • Podcast • Practice
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