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Nicole Roales
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, October 9, 2006

Learning Matters

Oct. 9, 2006

The next trip to the grocery store or the gas station is another opportunity to promote literacy with your children. Talking to a child daily about things such as the texture and color of an apple at the grocery store or the numbers on the gas station's sign is one of many ways parents can promote literacy with their children, said Shirley Aamidor, assistant professor of education at Indiana University Kokomo. "It's those daily, consistent, sustained contacts that parents have with their children at all times of the day that promote literacy," Aamidor said. "It's wonderful to say to a child, 'let's sit down and have an hour of instruction now.' It doesn't work because children are not hard-wired that way. Children learn in the day-to-day contact that they have with their parents." Children who do not receive this contact tend to have more difficulty in school, because they have a limited ability to express themselves and develop concepts. If a parent limits the child's experiences, then the parent is limiting the child's ability to express himself or herself, Aamidor said. Parents can begin talking to their children when they are babies. "Even if they are not verbally responsive to you, a child is hearing a parent talk, and responding at the levels of the physical, the emotive and the social, and that promotes cognitive development," Aamidor said. "Parents often lose sight of the fact that these daily or routine, inexpensive activities promote cognitive development in young children — not the expensive computer game." To help parents understand the importance of talking to their children, Aamidor and Amber Reed, lecturer in education, are partnering with the IU Kokomo Division of Education and the Howard County Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) to sponsor "Walk and Talk Kokomo" on Oct. 14. About 80 IUK education students will be stationed at 35 Kokomo businesses and parks, demonstrating day-to-day activities in which parents can teach numbers, colors and words to young children. Parents who complete a certain number of activities will receive educational materials for their children.

Aamidor can be reached at 765-455-9296 and Reed can be reached at 765-455-9234 and The Early Childhood Education Center can be reached at 765-455-9427.

What credentials does your child's caregiver have? According to researcher Mary McMullen, associate professor of early childhood education at the IU Bloomington School of Education, the average caregiving situation for infants and toddlers in the United States is rated as only poor to mediocre in quality. McMullen said research shows that too often parents choose a child care center because of proximity and price — not because of quality of care. Poor care actually puts a child's health and safety at risk. One of the key indicators of quality is "continuity of care," which relates to the number of different adults who take care of a child over time. McMullen said factors that result in poor quality care, "put infants' and toddlers' health and safety at risk, and do not even begin to address the facilitation of cognitive and emotional development." In order for someone to provide optimal care for a baby, McMullen said the caregiver must have a relationship with the child, "a relationship so close that they know the child's body language, what the child likes to eat — the little things that delight the child. The caregiver needs to know the child well enough to fall in love with them, and for the child to fall in love in turn. That type of relationship can't happen with several different adults," McMullen said. "Children grow and thrive in the context of relationship." McMullen and a colleague are working together to study the professional development of the state's infant and toddler specialists through Infant-Toddler Specialists of Indiana (ITSI), a professional network supported by faculty and students at IU and Purdue University. ITSI's goal is to promote sharing and development of new resources, as well as training, for Indiana professionals who work with infants and toddlers. McMullen said they are working on providing Indiana childcare providers with information about "relationship-based care and education" and how that relates to the delivery of quality care and education, and social services to infants, toddlers and their families. There are ways for parents to ensure their child is in the hands of a good caregiver. One assurance is whether or not the facility is nationally accredited, which McMullen said is a good indicator. If not nationally accredited, check to see if the facility is licensed through the state. Beyond regulation, McMullen advises parents to spend some time at the facility to see if it is a place they'd like to spend their day. If it is not a place in which they think they'd be happy, grow and thrive, then it's not right for a child either.

McMullen can be reached at or 812-856-8393.

An IUPUI professor has created a new journal covering sports/athletics in education. A new scholarly journal, co-edited by an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor, will provide a forum for discussion and analysis of sports and athletics participation in education. Robin L. Hughes, assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses, will co-edit the journal with James W. Satterfield Jr., assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Foundations Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, will be published by California-based Left Coast Press Inc. The journal will provide a forum for discussion and analysis of sports and athletics participation in education. It will explore the needs, experiences and development of student athletes in both K-12 and higher education settings, with multidisciplinary emphasis on the institutional, sociological and political roles that athletics play on campus. The journal seeks to fill a critical gap in current education literature by addressing the unique role of sports and student athletic development in schooling, and its larger ramifications with regard to race, achievement and identity. Hughes said it is important to have a journal of this nature because, traditionally, student athletes are grouped in with other students. "What I do find are student development theories that look at African American males," Hughes said. "The African American males in sports look nothing like the average African American males on campus. On one campus they are having no problem graduating and for some reason they are seen as gods. That's not happening with the average African American students." The journal will be published three times a year. The first edition is scheduled for March 2007. Manuscript ideas and submissions should be sent via email to: For additional information, contact: Robin Hughes, More information about Left Coast Press can be found online at: