Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Have you been visiting www.GoBigEd.com daily for the parent-friendly education features? Gradually, I’m getting them in shape to the point where I hope they might be of service to parents of children in public schools, private schools and homeschools, as well as taxpayers, public policymakers, and everyone who cares about education. Let me know what you think, and which is your favorite feature! Here’s the Tuesday offering, which is always on writing:

Syllables: Bring ‘The Clapper’ Out of the Closet

OK, I know, it’s one of the nerdiest products on the market. You know “The Clapper,” the device you can plug into a lamp or TV, and when you clap your hands, it turns it on or off? “The Clapper” has been advertised for years as a help for couch potatoes, the disabled, and the elderly. Most everyone has one in their closet somewhere. But did you know “The Clapper” can be a great aid to help your young child with prewriting skills?

Writing is like music: it’s rhythmic and dynamic. It ebbs and flows. It has a “beat.” You can help make that clear to your child by the way you read aloud, with inflections and varying how loud and soft your voice gets. But you can also play around with the music of speech by using “The Clapper.”

Plug it in to a light, and then get out your child’s favorite book of kiddie poetry, perhaps some good old Dr. Seuss. Read a line aloud. Both you and your child should clap on the last word. You can laugh at the effect your clapping has on the light. Then read aloud the next sentence, and clap on the last word. Again, pause and enjoy the effect.

Gradually, your child will pick up the rhythm of the rhyme. Eventually, you can clap at each accented word, and if you really get in to it, you can clap for each individual syllable.

Yes, to the outside world, you might look idiotic doing this. But it’s great for your child to get a feel for the rhythm of our language. It will pay off in more flowing writing on down the road. There’s nothing embarrassing about that. In fact, you deserve applause for being a good parent setting your child up to be a good writer! Imagine a theater full of “The Clappers” . . . and take a bow.

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