Professor Kurt Fischer played a key role in last week’s launch of LearnNow, a free site for parents, educators, practitioners, and researchers in search of information about raising and educating today’s children from birth all the way to 12th grade.
"LearnNow presents solid research findings that parents and teachers can count on as accurate and well informed,” Fischer says. “It promises to create the most dependable resource online to help educators and parents to raise their children knowledgeably and thoughtfully."
LearnNow features articles, interviews, videos, podcasts, blogs, and print-based materials on essential learning topics, such as how to recognize and handle stress in children, what it means to “pay attention,” and how and why play helps kids learn, with scholars from institutions including Johns Hopkins Medicine Brain Science Institute, Temple University, the University of Delaware, the Families and Work Institute, and the Maryland Institute College of Art in addition to the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The extensive website features different learning departments with advice and engaging topics for families, educators, and caretakers. Within the Learning Myths section, Fischer presents findings in science to debunk age-old myths about how children learn.
Other areas included are Dear LearnNow, in which anyone can submit a question related to a child’s learning and have it answered by experts; Science in Action, a series of videos in which Ellen Galinsky, author of the groundbreaking book Mind in the Making and codirector of the Families and Work Institute, takes participants behind-the-scenes of studies underway in top laboratories nationwide; and Learning Technology, a compilation of media-rich content about using existing and emerging technologies as learning tools, and integrating technology in kids’ lives in safe, healthy ways.
With scholars and clinicians spanning disciplines that include child development, neuroscience, education, child psychology, public health, and pediatric psychology and medicine, the content covers nearly every angle of how children learn, from the social-emotional perspective to the biological changes that happen in the brain as children age. Parents and educators also deliver content, offering practical advice from their day-to-day experience with kids.
“I can’t tell you how great it is as a parent to have somewhere to turn to and trust,” says Susan Hampton, a mom of two young boys in Arlington, Va. “With so much conflicting information out there, LearnNow is a site my husband and I can depend on — and one that can grow with us as we someday navigate the even trickier roads of adolescence and the teenage years.”
The launch of LearnNow is timely, its founders say. “In the past 20 years, scientists have made leaps and bounds in understanding how children learn — and what kids need for optimal growth and development in the 21st century,” explains founding member Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, who is also the director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University, coauthor of the award-winning book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards and codirector of the Ultimate Block Party. “Unfortunately, much of that knowledge exists in journals read only by academics, and too little gets into the hands of the people who actually raise or work with kids.”
“That’s the beauty of LearnNow,” adds another founding member, Susan Magsamen, the director of Interdisciplinary Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Brain Science Institute, and the creator of a new award-winning learning world for young children, Curiosityville. “We’re taking the latest and best research happening right now and making it applicable to everyone directly involved in caring for, raising, and educating children.”