Posts by Jen Lumanlan

048: The value of mixed-age learning

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We’re in for a treat today: we welcome our first return guest on the show, Dr. Peter Gray.  After I talked with him last time about self-directed learning, I asked whether he knew anyone who would speak with me about the value of mixed-age learning.  While we’re accustomed to thinking of learning as the kind of thing that happens when children are in a classroom with peers their own age, but it turns out that children in mixed-age groups learn in all kinds of ways we might not expect.  Dr. Gray said he didn’t know of anyone who had studied as well as he had, and that he’d be happy to come back and speak with us.

We discuss the value of play, what happens when adults put rules around play, how older children ‘scaffold‘ younger children’s learning, and much more!

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047: How to raise a bilingual child

how to raise a bilingual child

Do you have to start teaching a second language from birth?  Does it help to get a nanny who speaks a second language?  Is there any way your child will retain the language you speak even though you’re currently in a country where another language is dominant?  Does learning a second language lead to any developmental advantages beyond just the benefits of learning the language?

Several listeners have actually written to me requesting an episode on this topic, and one has been particularly insistent (you know who you are!), so I was very glad to finally find an expert!

Dr. Erica Hoff leads the Language Development Lab at Florida Atlantic University and studies language development and bilingualism in children.  She gives us the lowdown on the best ways to raise a bilingual child (and doesn’t mince words on how difficult it is) – and also answers my burning question: I’m not planning to teach my daughter a second language at the moment, so am I a terrible parent?


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046: How to potty train a child

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When should I start potty training?  What books should I read?  Can I do it in a day (or a week)?  Do I need stickers (for rewards)?  Does it have to be stressful?

I get these kinds of questions pretty often, and I’d resisted doing an episode on potty training because there are so many books on it already, and everyone has their opinion, and I really didn’t want to wade into it.  But ya’ll kept asking and my resolve has finally crumbled, so today we’re going to talk all about what the research says, what the books say, and how there’s essentially no correlation between the books and the research.  We’ll review the “do it in a day!” methods and what makes them successful, and we’ll also look at child-led methods.  You’ll leave this episode with a clear picture of which is probably going to work best for you, and some concrete tools you can put to work (today, if you need to!) to start what I prefer to call the “toilet learning” process.

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045: How parenting affects child development

How parenting affects child development

Isn’t it kind of a “well, duh?” that parenting affects child development?  But do we know how?  We know it’s not good to have really big fights in front of the kids, but do spousal quarrels screw them up too?  Are there really links between a family’s emotional expressiveness and the child’s later academic performance?  How does the marital relationship affect parenting, and how does parenting affect the marital relationship?

Today we talk with Dr. Laura Froyen, who has a Ph.D in Human Development and Family Studies and seems almost as obsessed with research on child development issues as I am.  You can find much more about her work at

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044: How to introduce your child to music (even if you can’t play or sing)

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I can’t play any instruments (unless the recorder counts?).  I certainly can’t sing.  But my daughter really enjoys music, and there are a whole host of studies showing how playing music benefits children’s brain development.  So what’s a non-music playing, non-singing parent to do?

Dr. Wendell Hanna’s new book, the Children’s Music Studio: A Reggio-Inspired Approach, give us SO MANY ways to interact with music with our children.  I tried one of her ‘provocations’ with my daughter’s daycare class and I was blown away.  Give this episode a listen, and be inspired.


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