My Child Didn’t Like to Read

A few years ago, I was talking to my then 6-year-old son.  He was in the midst of first grade and learning how to read.  I was beyond excited for this stage in his life.  I had dreamt of having him sit on my lap to read one of our favorite books to me in that sweet innocent voice.  But in fact, this was not our reality at all.  My child did not enjoy reading.  He only practiced when forced, and complained about reading every single time.  It wasn’t only a struggle at home, but at school as well.  Even though he was learning and making progress, the love and curiosity of reading was sadly missing.


My entire job as an adult was teaching children.  Not only did I love teaching, but I felt it was my duty as a teacher to instill the love of learning and reading.  I was so passionate about teaching kids to read.  I loved showing them strategies to be successful and confident readers.  To enable them to independently escape into a book while learning new vocabulary and reading skills.  And in my very own home, I was struggling to help my own child.


Needless to say, I pulled out all the stops, and after some trials and failures, I was able to figure out how to have more successes than failures. Below are some of the reading strategies that helped my son slowly gain that love of reading.


Shared reading

Many kids look at a page of text and crumble.  They get overwhelmed with the amount of words and often give up or feel frustrated before they start.  I have found that taking the pressure off my child from reading all the words can be very encouraging.  We take turns reading, which not only motivates the kids to read longer, but the other reader is able to model fluency, syntax, and pronunciation of vocabulary.


Image heavy texts

From my own experience, my son starting getting excited about choosing his own texts when he started reading graphic novels.  These types of books, as well as books with a lot of great illustrations, lure the kids into the story.  The illustrations are also a great tool to help students who may struggle with reading, and gives them imagery for story context.


Choose texts based on their interests

This seems like an obvious one…but it makes a difference.  Kids will want to read about what they like.  If they love animals, try reading animal books.  If they love soccer, find some books about famous soccer players or a storyline that revolves around the sport.  The more they are intrigued about the subject matter, the better chance they will try to find out by reading it.


Use various forms of text

Sometimes, all kids need is a different format to read from.  I love eBooks to change things up.  I take advantage – when my son really wants to use the iPad, I have him read an eBook before he plays a game.  I love the eBooks and content on Genius Plaza, because there are so many different types of books that intrigue him.


We must remember that reading is a lifelong process.  All it takes is one book, one topic, one person to change the course of our child’s love for reading.  Being supportive and continuously providing engaging material are the most important things we can do to make our child’s reading career a successful one.


Our Search Toolbar

Search Toolbar

Last week we unveiled our new search toolbar, and we have received great feedback. The search toolbar is now also available on our homepage, and as you can see, you can apply filters to search thousands of resources by resource type (eBook, video, vocabulary set, etc.), language, grade, creator, and subject.

Here is a video to help show how the toolbar works:

Search Toolbar

Once you click “Search,” you will see your search results, as well as a “Share Search Results” button. When you click that button, you will see the URL has been copied, allowing you to share that URL with others.

Finding the Content You Need

Now teachers will be able to find supplemental content to help them achieve their goals. You can find math, language arts, and science content for grades PreK to 12th, in English and Spanish.


The search toolbar is very user-friendly.  For example, when I searched for ninth grade math content in English, here is what I would find:


Tell Us What You Think!

We will continue to find ways to optimize the platform, and invite you to share feedback via chat, or email me at

Education-related News Updates and Resources September 1, 2017

Today’s news updates will focus on Hurricane Harvey as well as general education and EdTech news.

Hurricane Harvey

Yesterday in our blog we shared this Newsweek story about the impact of Hurricane Harvey. In fact, according to Education Week, more than one million students are impacted. The New York Times shared a great resource for teaching about Hurricane Harvey, which can be found here.

Hurricane Harvey

We also have been inspired by schools and others coming together to support Harvey victims. This story from Missouri and this Facebook group we previously mentioned talk about helping to  adopt classrooms and helping impacted teachers.

As we shared yesterday as well, some of our colleagues are supporting Save The Children. Learn more here.

EdTech News

Today we also want to share additional updates. Here is a link to a story focused on the top five EdTech trends.

EdTech News

Another topic we continue to hear about is student privacy. Read more here.

Thank you for reading our blog! This month our most-read blog post was the letter to kindergarten parents, followed by the post on reteaching. We invite you to read both if you have not.


Mother Tongue

Family and Language

Three years ago, my cousin Kevin came to upstate New York from northern Germany for a visit. My mother, a German immigrant who had arrived in the United States as a child, was initially embarrassed by how rusty her German skills had become after many years of disuse. Certain words escaped her, and she often needed to pause gather her thoughts. Spending time with her long-distance relative, however, awakened the German skills that had long lain dormant in her brain. Before long, her German vocabulary grew broader. Her exchanges with Kevin were peppered with fewer English words, and soon, she no longer had to pause to puzzle out Kevin’s German sentences or to muster a reply. Kevin’s English quickly became brawnier with use, as well. Their rapid increase in linguistic dexterity was, in the eyes of a monoglot such as myself, fascinating – and a little frustrating.

Yes, frustrating. I felt I had, in a strange way, been robbed of the easiest path available to become bilingual – lifelong exposure and immersion. Although I had a German mother, she had been actively resistant to teaching me German during my childhood for reasons she has kept her own. It is possible that she simply didn’t have the time to indulge me. But the fact remains: she had an excited child on her hands who was eager to learn German. As time went on, my interest in learning new languages remained, but my ability to pick up the intricacies of a foreign tongue diminished by the year. I remain interested in languages, but I am far from fluent in anything but my native English. Hence, my jealousy while watching my relatives converse so easy between languages. That could have been me. 

Importance of Learning Multiple Languages

It is vital that we give students every opportunity to learn multiple languages, and that we do so as early as possible to take advantage of the time when their brain is most efficiently wired for the task. I’ve heard teachers lament about the United States’s tardy attempt to teach foreign language since my elementary school days, but only recently have I seen any real attempts to combat this problem.

As a mother myself, I desperately want to give my two-year-old son the opportunity to learn a different language, and by extension, to become familiar with a different culture. That is why, next year, I plan on enrolling him at Genius Plaza’s Bilingual Genius Academy, where he can receive instruction in both Spanish and English. As he ages, I also plan on introducing him to Genius Plaza’s other educational products, which will not only enhance his language skills, but also supplement instruction in other subjects. Other ways to encourage foreign language learning can be found here.

Teaching a New Generation the Mother Tongue

My mom didn’t mean to stifle my childhood curiosity and hunger for knowledge, of this I am sure. I suppose the best way to combat this lost opportunity is to not only continue to pursue fluency in a second language for myself, but seamlessly integrate bilingualism into my son’s childhood, so he may have it to tap into as he comes up in the world.

Weekly Education News Update!

The Tennessean discussed the need for diversity among teachers in schools, whether it be more teachers of color, or increasing the number of teachers from rural settings.  It has been proven through research that diverse teachers have a positive effect on student’s educational experience.  Having a diverse staff allows more students to be able to relate to their educators.  “In the spirit of giving every student the best education possible, we should aim to have that diversity reflected in our staff as well.”

More recently, the main goal for teachers is to make their lessons interactive and captivating.  For instance, in a Forbes article, virtual reality is stated to be one of the six transformative technology trends occurring in education.  Virtual reality “enhances teacher instruction while simultaneously creating immersive lessons that are fun and engaging for the student.”  Many schools are now offering technology devices such as iPads or laptops to entire classrooms.  This concept is revolutionary for education, especially for schools with a high rate of students who come from low-income families.

Another increasingly popular technology trend in education discussed in Forbes is blended learning.  Blended learning “gives more responsibility to the student, as it involves less direct instruction from the teacher and more discovery-based methods of learning.”  As teachers incorporate blended learning into their classrooms, students can go at their own learning pace.  Another transformative technology trend mentioned in Forbes is increased use of educational gaming in classrooms, in an effort to make lessons more fun for students.  These games are created to provide immediate feedback; students are motivated to keep playing the games while gaining knowledge and skills.

This past week, The Strait Times examined how bilingual kids can pick up another language easier than a monolingual child.  A study was conducted with monolingual and bilingual toddlers to see if they were able to notice the differences in the change of wording stated aloud to them.  “The findings supported the theory that exposing children to two languages at the same time has cognitive benefits.”  A child is able to learn a language quicker from birth to around three years old.  Knowing this, Genius Plaza’s newly launched Pre-K program is a perfect way to help parents teach their young children Spanish or English. There are many videos, lessons, and educational games available on Genius Pre-K, a great place to start immersing your son or daughter in English or Spanish.

Black Enterprise covered the new Oakland Startup Network initiative. In this piece, Lili Gangas, Chief Technology Community Officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact said, “The goal is to bring in a lot of the other ecosystem players in Oakland that are focused on increasing the number of underrepresented entrepreneurs.”

This week, we also learned on Medium about the “skyrocketing” growth of girls taking the AP Computer Science exam. According to this piece, “The growth among female students has been incredible, increasing participation in AP CS exams by 135% since 2016. Not to be outdone, underrepresented minorities have increased participation by nearly 170% over last year!”


“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Frank Smith, psycholinguist

A recent post titled “Myth vs Reality – Bilingual Language Development”  in “The Hola Blog” highlights key misperceptions about raising bilingual kids. As someone who moved to this country at a young age and was exposed to two languages since kindergarten, I know firsthand the benefits of bilingualism.

In fact, as is pointed out in this post, bilingualism actually improves a child’s ability to learn. In today’s global economy, knowing more than one language is a competitive advantage, and the younger a child starts learning languages, the better.According to Barbara Lust, a developmental psychology and linguistics expert, professor of human development and Director of the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab, “Cognitive advantages follow from becoming bilingual.” She adds, “These cognitive advantages can contribute to a child’s future academic success.”
At Genius Plaza, we offer language arts, math, and science resources in English and Spanish, as well as Genius Pre-K and Genius Explorers, programs created for different age groups to help them learn English. Educators and parents can adjust the learning level by language, allowing students to learn at their own speed, depending on the language. Knowing more than one language can open doors, and our goal is to provide the resources, so that any student can have the key to open these doors.

Genius Pre-K

Genius Explorers 

Weekly Education News Update!

The Journal published the article 7 Digital Learning Trends, which examined a research project known as Speak Up. The project surveyed more than 514,000 educators, parents, and students over the past few months. One of the main findings was “demand is growing for game-based learning environments and new learning models, such as blended, flipped, and competency-based learning.” Teachers told researchers that when attempting to find quality digital content, they looked for relevance, standards alignment, customizability, and adjustability for reading levels.

Further discussed in The Journal, researchers found that the majority of educators and students who were in the study believed having a mobile device in the classroom can be beneficial. Students are using their individual phones for online research, playing educational games, taking exams, and watching videos their teachers have approved to be viewed.  Principals and teachers are also starting to use social media to engage with their students.

In the study, 80% of principals said they were using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate with students and parents to keep them informed. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students all view using technology in the classroom in different ways. After these findings, parents and educators need to be on the same page about how technology should be used more uniformly in classrooms.


In a recent study discussed in Medical Daily, it was discovered that there may be a way to make it easier to learn new languages and musical instruments. Scientists found that reducing or blocking certain chemicals – A1 and adenosine – in the brain creates better auditory memory and learning skills. When the adenosine chemical in the brain is manipulated, it was much easier for the brain to distinguish between tones with slightly different frequencies.

“The researchers suspect that it may lengthen the critical learning period during childhood, and allow adults to learn new instruments and languages with the same ease as young children.” Knowing this newly discovered information could allow scientists to help people more easily become bilingual,  by controlling the A1 and adenosine chemicals in people’s brains.

On the Today Show, researchers from NYU and Princeton conducted a study with 400 six-year-old children to see which they believed were smarter, boys or girls. The children were given scenarios without mentioning the person’s gender and at the end of the story they were asked if the smart person in the story was male or female. Unfortunately, the majority of the boys and girls involved in the study stated that the smart person in the scenario was a boy.

The study concluded that negative stereotypes still persist in our society, especially in regard to girls. It is vital for parents, educators, and influencers of young children to allow boys and girls to view a world where women are just as smart and have as many opportunities as men. We need to offer young girls more material where women are portrayed as strong, smart leaders, and they are able to achieve their goals independently.

Also this week, Nibletz wrote an article about how Genius Plaza is built on diversity. It discusses how, more recently, diversity has become an oft-mentioned issue, with much negativity surrounding it.  Nibletz states Genius Plaza is a “breath of fresh air” when talking about diversity in the ed tech world. Here at Genius Plaza, we have hundreds of resources available to parents, teachers, and students, all of which incorporate diversity.

Genius Plaza makes sure that all of their lessons include people and highlight people of all shapes, colors, and backgrounds.” Also, by offering a completely bilingual platform, we are able to leverage technology to make our educational products truly accessible rather than just available.

This weekend, July 8-11, we will be at the National Principals Conference in Philadelphia, booth #934, as well as the National Council of La Raza Conference in Arizona, booth #1154.