Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Your child is capable of things NO ONE can predict." Natan Gendelman, D.O.M.P.

I was fortunate to be invited to a PNC women's event to hear Dr. Dana Suskind, renowned cochlear implant surgeon, speak about the 30 Million Word Gap, a program with which I was unfamiliar. PNC partners with DR. suskind and the Thirty Million Words initiative. (Please see or more information.) This initiative encourages parents to speak more words to their babies and children; a good analogy is to compare new words going into the child's brain with coins being deposited into a child's piggy bank. Both are enriching the child and helping to shape the child's future. This initiative comes after a study  by Hart and Ridley, which shows that children from professional families hear approximately 30 million more words by age 3 than children from welfare families. This information is STUNNING. (Please see for more information about this study.)   

In the program Dr. Suskind presented, she discussed parents' use of the "Three T's" - Tune in, Talk more, and Take turns. According to Dr. Suskind, "Tuning in" asks you to notice what a child is doing, and get involved, including cooing to your child and answering when a baby or child communicates.  "Talking more" requires you to talk about what you are doing, even if you are changing a diaper! "Taking turns", Dr. Suskind said, means looking at your child as a conversational partner, and to take turns talking, and even responding to gestures and sounds from your baby. Dr. Dana Suskind noticed this: n her surgically implanted cochlear patients,  she noted that the cochlear implants did not truly benefit the child unless they were learning new words. The child's brain power is dependent on how many words the parents speak to the child. This was a very compelling presentation, and I was so inspired! Dr. Suskind even authored a book about the subject, titled THIRTY MILLION WORDS - BUILDING A CHILD'S BRAIN.

I was an English teacher for 37 years, and through the years, I noticed deficiencies in the general vocabulary of some students in my classes.  By the time a student is in the 10th grade, it is impossible to pinpoint how long and at what age that student began to fall behind. Teaching students who are behind is always a push to "make up" for deficiencies, and to try to have the student learn more and learn faster to close that gap. Students with a better command of the English language performed better in class and made better grades, for the most part.  I can tell you that owning and using a large vocabulary, as a student or as an adult, is a gift that propels a person forward in school, college, and in the job market.

Many teachers read my weekly posts, which is why I chose the Thirty Million Words as my subject this week.  I am so impressed with the Thirty Million Words initiative to close the gap that I wanted to share this information with all of you.  Child caregivers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and siblings all have the ability to improve a child's vocabulary and intelligence from the day the child is born!  For me, as a teacher, as one who enjoys learning, and as a person who identifies as a lifelong learner, I am inspired by this initiative! Please share the news about The Thirty Million Words with others in your circle so we can help to make today's babies and toddlers smarter and more successful students and adults!   

To learn more, please visit

Here is a link to an interesting article about Dr. Suskind's book in USA Today:

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

You can find many strategies for teaching in Dede's book. Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available or on Amazon at 

Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

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