Expert tip for your child’s school success

New study shows that kids retain what they learn much better if they read the material out loud.

 A new important tip from Israeli experts: Children recall information better when they repeat the material aloud.

This is the conclusion of a study conducted at Israel’s Ariel University by Prof. Michal Ichet from the department of communication disorders in collaboration with Prof. Yaniv Mama from the department of psychology and behavioral sciences.

They found that when children hear new information and then repeat it loudly and clearly, this significantly improves their ability to remember the words, compared with their memory of words spoken by someone else.

This simple “listen and repeat” method can be used to help even pre-reading students learn and memorize information – including facts, vocabulary and foreign languages — more effectively.



The study was conducted in Hebrew but is applicable to any other language of instruction, say the researchers.

“I personally have always thought that repeating something aloud helps me commit it to memory. Now we’ve found that the research that supports this theory is indisputable,” Ichet said.

The learning is not as effective if the children hear the words spoken by someone else or if they repeat the words to themselves quietly or silently.

Previous studies on the “listen and repeat” technique have focused mostly on adults who have the ability to read and write. The increase in an adult’s capacity to remember information using this method is about 20 percent. In the five-year-olds tested by Ichet and Mama, the increase was as high as 35%.


They theorize that repeating words aloud creates a pathway in the brain. These words then receive “preferential status” when being set into memory and thus become more familiar.

The researchers suggest that teachers, parents and caregivers take this tip to heart in order to improve young children’s mastery of new information.

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.



10 little things that can completely change your child’s future

Build A Better Kid  By Megan Wallgren

 We all want to see our children grow into happy, successful adults. It’s fun to see them grow and develop different personality traits and interests. As parents, we want to give our kids the best future possible. That doesn’t mean we need to give them everything they want or spend a lot of money on vacations or activities. Here are 10 simple things that may have a big effect your child’s future.

1. A book

Books are dear to the heart. Most of us remember a favorite bedtime story, thrilling read or character that was there for us when no one else was. One book can lead kids to decide on a career or lifestyle.

A study from the National Endowment for the Arts says a child’s engagement with books affects future life in broader ways as well. Poor reading skills tend to equate with lower pay, lack of or poor employment, and fewer chances for advancement. Poor readers are less likely to be active in civic life, volunteer less, and vote less than better readers.

It’s important to get children a good start in engaging with the written word. It will make a lifetime of difference.

2. Taking out the garbage

Financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “You should view teaching your children to work in the same way you view teaching them to bathe and brush their teeth — as a necessary skill for life.” Giving kids chores prepares them to be able to take on and fulfill assignments in the future for employers and teaches them the relationship between work and success. As a bonus, it gives them confidence and a sense of community as they contribute to your family’s well-being.

3. A teacher

A child will have many teachers over the years, but sometimes he makes a special connection with one that will change his life. Whether by igniting a love of a particular subject or by helping a child through a hard time in life, a teacher can earn a special place in his student’s mind and heart.

4. A friend

While not related by blood, a friend can hold the same place as family in your heart. The wrong friends can send your child on a downward spiral and the right ones can support and uplift him to greater success.

5. Time with dad

A study posted on found, “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.” Having an involved father was a better social indicator of future success than having money or social status. Enough said.

6. An instrument

Playing a musical instrument has numerous benefits for kids ranging from improving memory and mathematical abilities to creativity, self-expression and stress relief. If your child joins a band or orchestra it can improve his social skills and widen his peer group. Some budding musicians will even go on to music careers.

7. The city you live in

Throughout their lives adults will identify themselves with their hometown, even after living away for years. Where you live affects your child’s educational and recreational opportunities. Each place has its own culture that will influence your child’s thoughts and ideas. How you talk and feel about your neighborhood will also influence your child’s feelings.

8. A pet

Having a pet has been shown to keep you healthier both emotionally and physically. Pets can teach kids responsibility and compassion. A study comparing children with dogs at home to those without, found that the children who were dog owners were significantly more empathic and pro-social. Pets can also provide a sense of security and reduce anxiety. For these reasons, animals are often used in therapy with children. The study also found that children with higher levels of attachment to pets reported more positive feelings about their family and home, than those with low attachment to pets.

Having a pet can teach your child to love more, be a better friend and have fonder memories of childhood.

9. A walk

Regular exercise has too many health benefits for your kids to list. Getting outside is particularly important. It helps boost your child’s immune system, stimulates the imagination, promotes problem solving skills, gives the Vitamin D and is a proven mood booster. Added to this is the beneficial bonding time you can get with your kids when you walk together. This is a great time to talk with your kids away from distractions. Some of your most meaningful, life changing conversations can happen on a walk.

10. A grandma

Or, grandpa, aunt, uncle or cousin. Studies have shown that children with strong extended family ties tend to do better when faced with a problem. “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned,” according to an Emory University study. Extended families often provide care and support when a parent is unavailable, or in conflicts between parents and children.

When it comes to raising children, it’s not the trips to Disneyland, the latest gadgets or even the best schools that have the most profound influence on the future. It’s often little things you can do that turn out to make a big difference.

Megan Wallgren is a freelance writer and mother of four energetic children.

New baby formula has no dairy or soy

Israelis develop the world’s first vegetable-based infant formula that meets international nutritional regulations without problematic ingredients. By Abigail Klein Leichman


Up to half of all infants fed baby formula suffer gastro distress, skin rashes, respiratory problems and other signs that they can’t tolerate cow’s milk. The only alternative, soy formula, is a last resort because of possible hormonal effects of its powerful phytoestrogens.

A new vegetable-based product called INDI (Innovative Non Dairy Infant formula), developed by two Israeli baby-food executives, could provide parents across the world with a long sought-after option containing neither cow’s milk nor soy but delivering all the nutrition required by international regulations.

This game-changing formula came out of research, trial and error by Uriel Kesler and Hamutal Yitzhak, owners of Heart baby food. Yitzhak was previously Israel’s category manager for Similac infant formula at Abbott Labs, and Kesler handled consumer products and baby food for Promedico.

“When I worked for Similac, I saw that 50 percent of moms were switching formulas all the time because their babies were having symptoms of one kind or another, and the doctors really don’t have anything to tell them,” says Yitzhak, who was one of the first to alert the world to the hazards of BPA plastic in baby bottles.


Kesler experienced the problem firsthand when his granddaughter couldn’t stomach regular formula. He made her a drink out of nutritious almond paste – not watery store-bought almond milk — that she liked and tolerated well. He wondered why almonds weren’t being used in the huge and growing baby-formula market, which rang up nearly $30 billion in sales during 2013.

“About 130 million babies are born each year,” Kesler tells ISRAEL21c. “For their first three years, they are consuming mostly milk-based nutrition from one resource – the poor cow – and on the margins you have soy-based formulas.”

The time was right for a whole new approach.

Mystery plant

Milk shortages are looming worldwide as millions of people in Asian countries add dairy to their diet. Another grave consequence of this unprecedented demand is the need for feeding ever more antibiotics and growth hormones to dairy cows as they are stretched well beyond their natural limits for milk production, explains Kesler. At the same time, evidence is mounting that cow’s milk was never an ideal food for human babies.

Kesler and Yitzhak rented space at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s small-scale industrial facility and began experimenting with almonds, using Heart profits to finance their trials.

Almond paste alone does not fulfill regulations governing the precise ratio of protein, fat, carbs and essential amino acids in infant formula. In addition, the paste’s oily texture wasn’t right for a bottle-fed formula.

“We tried a few other ingredients and finally found another plant, whose identity we cannot yet disclose, which in the right ratio with almonds gives us what we need,” says Kesler. “Our unique combination of two plant sources, in the right proportion, gave us the answer.”

They then spent nine months transforming their novel plant-based blend into a dissolvable powder that mixes well with the right amount of water and has an appealing taste, texture, color and viscosity.

Kesler and Yitzhak got a thumbs-up for their formula from experts including Dr. Ron Shaoul, head of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa, and chief dietician Brigitte Kohavi from the Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.


In talks with baby-formula companies

Shaoul tells ISRAEL21c that he welcomes an alternative for babies who cannot tolerate milk-based formula or whose parents prefer a vegan option without soy.

“Commercial preparations such as soy milk, rice milk or almond milk, or various homemade vegetable-based ‘milks,’ are not suitable for infant feeding and may damage a baby’s growth and development and result in severe situations of nutritional deficiency,” he says.

“In recent years, there is a worldwide tendency to avoid dairy, and soy today is the main alternative to dairy products,” Shaoul continues.

“Soy contains 40 times the amount of phytoestrogens as breast milk. Concerns have been raised that phytoestrogens may have an adverse effect on infant and child health in the areas of growth, sexual maturation and development, bone health and impact on thyroid function. Therefore, we need an herbal alternative that will satisfy babies’ nutritional needs. And that’s the idea of INDI.”

The patent-pending formula is now being produced in limited quantity at an infant formula manufacturing site in Germany, for the purpose of clinical tests for safety. Kesler says additional funds are needed to complete these trials.

The founders have already had preliminary conversations with leading infant-formula producers.

“We are going for the whole market, to offer a general substitute to milk and soy,” declares Yitzhak. “The change will happen; an alternative will be needed in the next 10 years. The question is who will be the first to market.”

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