6 Ways to Build & Improve Your child’s Vocabulary for Success

mom children readingIn 1937, Johnson O’Connor, then the director of the Human Engineering Laboratory of the Stevens Institute of Technology, performed a detailed study of vocabulary use and familiarity with research subjects, ranging from high school and grammar school pupils, to professors and businessmen. He determined that the largest vocabularies are possessed by “major executives,” and the size of one’s vocabulary correlates to his salary. Johnson also concluded that a large vocabulary was an “important concomitant of success and financial prosperity.”

In the years since, other research have confirmed additional benefits of larger vocabularies: Higher high school achievement, higher reading achievement, even higher IQs. Educator and writer E.D. Hirsch, Jr. asserts that there is no better index to accumulated knowledge and general competence than the size of a person’s vocabulary: “Simply put, knowing more words makes you smarter.” Therefore, a sizable vocabulary is a great asset for your children to achieve success in the 21st century.

The Value of Vocabulary

Words are important because they allow you to convert thoughts with precision and concision and share them with others. Nathaniel Hawthorne, an 18th Century American novelist and author of the classic ”The Scarlet Letter,” may have expressed the power of words best: “Words…so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who know how to combine them.”

The combination of words – skillfully used – have empowered, entranced, and enthralled us in the hands of orators and writers throughout history. Verses of religious texts, Lincoln’s memorialization of the dead in his Gettysburg Address, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s message to a nation deep in the throes of economic depression, unemployment, and uncertainty (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) are just several of many memorable phrases and passages that will be eternal.

Words are essential to imagination, the ability to form new images and sensations that are not experienced through the physical senses. Words convey emotions, memories, concepts, and facts, and are the basis by which humans communicate. Being able to say what you mean in words that others understand without confusion is essential to understanding. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

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5 Timeless & Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Parents

Senior couple Harlen Miller, artist and author of “Slow Down Arthur, Stick to Thirty,” said, “Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” The Christmas Season, as well as birthdays and anniversaries, are occasions of great joy, as well as frustration, especially when it comes to selecting gifts for the elderly.

While there is a plethora of gift ideas for young children, what-to-buy for parents is especially difficult for a few reasons

  • Parents often have the financial ability to buy what they want when they want it
  • Past gifts, as well as purchases, have been accumulated for decades – so much, in some cases, that there is little space for storage in their houses
  • Aging has diminished their physical or mental abilities to enjoy active participation or use complicated electronic gadgets
  • Gift givers may lack the time or inspiration to create an unusual gift or experience for their parents

As a card-carrying member of the AARP Generation, I understand the dilemma of my children seeking gifts to please me or my spouse. However, I can also attest that the gifts I’ve treasured the most over the years were not the most expensive, or even available from a store, but were crudely made ashtrays, hand-painted pictures, or special moments of time and togetherness given in love. Simple, often inexpensive gifts that say “I love you” or “I remember the good times” are the ones that will be kept and revisited year after year.

Great Gifts for Parents From Adult Children

1. A Personal Letter from a Child or Grandchild

A handwritten, heartfelt letter from a child or grandchild is always appropriate and becomes more cherished as time goes by. Grammar and misspellings don’t matter; there is no grading and no critic who will review the contents for plot or accuracy. Simply recalling a time that was shared between child and parent, expressing how much enjoyment you felt, and thanking your parent or parents for that memory is enough to make it special.

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How to Choose the Best Stock Market Investment Strategy

piggybank According to a recent Pew Research report, more than one-half of people aged 30 or older have investments in the stock market and 80% of those making $75,000 per year or more have equity investments. These investments include individual stocks and bonds, as well as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

While many suffered from the sharp decline in the market in 2008 – it lost 38% of its value – the S&P 500 closed above 1,800 on November 22, 2013, more than doubling its low of 721 on March 11, 2009. As investor confidence returns, many analysts predict that the market is going to continue its bullish behavior well into 2014 and beyond. Whether you select individual stocks or bonds or rely upon an investment manager to do it for you, it is important that you choose an investment approach fitting to your attitudes and goals.

Components of Investment Success

The optimistic outlook for stocks provides a great opportunity for existing and new investors to review strategies and adjust investment philosophies to optimize their future results. Financial experts agree that investment success is highly dependent upon the following activities.

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The Path to Financial Security

This article first appeared on the AFCPE.org blog in December 2013.

white tigerThe need for personal security seems to be hard-wired into humans, reinforced by eons of experience since early man first ventured from the trees to seek an existence in a hostile world. Modern man no longer worries about saber-toothed tigers or the availability of sufficient prey; the object of today’s fears are rooted in future employment status, global economic events, and government actions that can complicate or devastate comfort and security.

Ancient man prepared for the future by learning to preserve food, rationing supplies for use at a later date. Civilized man prepares for the unknown by storing up modern-day units of exchange in the form of currencies, savings accounts, stocks, and bonds. While our ancestors’ savings were subject to the perils of spoilage, physical theft, and pests, our own savings are subject to their modern day equivalents – chance, taxes, and inflation.

As it was then, so it is now – the path to financial security isn’t always easy or clear. That said, with guidance on what to save, how much to save, and when to save it, you’ll have the tools to start developing a stockpile of financial security for the future.

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