Is a Claim of “Brain-Based” Enough? How Parents Can Tell “Good” Science From “Bad”

How many times have you seen a toy for your kid or come across an ad for a learning program that claims to be “research-based” or “brain-based”?

New parents hear that Baby Einstein products may actually do more harm than good.  But we’re still inundated with products that claim to stimulate brain development.  Or boost learning.  Or develop early reading skills.  Or improve vocabulary.

How do parents make sense of these claims?

In my guest post today on psychologist Polly Palumbo’s site Momma Data: Debunking Parenting Advice and Children’s Health News, I describe cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham’s method of evaluating education-related research.  (Palumbo also has a blog for Psychology Today.)

In my post, I outline Willingham’s four basic steps that gives researchers and non-educator parents alike the tools to figure out whether to trust an educational program, a product, or an idea.  Willingham’s blog is useful in itself to check out.  He takes on everything from the theory of multiple intelligences to the value of teaching reading comprehension skills.

What are some education fads or product promises that you’ve been skeptical about?

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