With physical activity as a proven brain booster, the Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators report slashing big chunks of time from physical education, arts, and recess in order to boost classroom time for reading and math. Mandatory PE classes can help lower our nation’s childhood obesity rates, increase brain power, and add a healthy dose of fun to our kids’ school day, experts say.
When I was growing up, afterschool was for Skittles, Doritos, and 25-cent juices. When my daughter gets home from school, she pulls the bag of baby carrots out of the fridge and chomps away happily. Times have definitely changed.
If my mother offered carrots as an after school snack, I would have thought that I was being punished. Maybe that’s because she didn’t have as much support as I do. Lucky for me, our First Lady launched the Let’s Move initiative on February 9, 2010, when my daughter was only two years old. That means that I haven’t been the only one introducing her to healthy foods and exercise.
Over the past three years, Let’s Move has inspired schools, childcare providers, and business leaders to improve the health of our nation’s children.
As of January of 2013, more than 10,000 child-care professionals and organizations have registered to implement new criteria for nutrition, physical activity, and limited screen time.
Through Chefs Move to School, 2,400 chefs and nearly 4,000 schools have signed up to work together, teaching kids about healthy eating and helping cafeteria staff prepare healthier meals.
The American Beverage Association has also stepped up and fulfilled their commitment to put clear calorie labels on the front of their products to give consumers better information.
Now, in celebration of Let’s Move’s 3rd anniversary, Michelle Obama has teamed up with Sesame Street’s Big Bird to film two public service announcements encouraging kids to eat healthy and get active.
The new PSAs feature Mrs. Obama and Big Bird in the White House showing kids how easy and delicious it is to eat healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables and demonstrating fun ways to get active like dancing and jumping. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, will distribute these PSAs to 320 PBS Stations, Sesame Workshop’s partner channels as part of their Healthy Habits for Life Initiative. The PSAs are also posted on the Sesame Street and Let’s Move! websites.
You can also check out our new story, “Active Learners,” which explains just how physical education classes—which are in danger of being cut from many schools—help children perform better academically.
Education Rankings, Anti-Common Core Alliance: Ed Today
Education Week released its Quality Counts report, one of the most comprehensive education rankings in the United States. (via Huffington Post)
Carolyn Cain, Utah Teacher On The Ed Show: Teachers Should Carry Guns Without Telling Parents, Students
A Utah teacher doesn’t think parents “necessarily” have a right to know that their child’s educator is carrying a concealed weapon in the classroom. (via Huffington Post)
Taft Union High School Teacher, Campus Supervisor ‘Talked Down’ Shooter, Deputy Says
A 16-year-old student armed with a shotgun walked into a rural California high school on Thursday, shot one student and fired at others and missed before a teacher and another staff member talked him into surrendering, officials said. (via Huffington Post)
Smartphone App Helps Children With Autism Communicate Better
A smartphone application that has potential to help children with autism communicate more effectively is now available for download. (via Science Daily)
Judge Won’t Block New York City Circumcision Law
A Manhattan federal judge refused to block a New York City regulation requiring people who perform circumcisions and use their mouths to draw away blood from the wound on a baby’s penis to first obtain written consent from the parents. (via Reuters)
Screen Time Not Linked to Kids’ Physical Activity
Cutting back kids’ time watching TV and playing video games may not encourage them to spend more of the day running around outside, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)
1. In a presentation by one of our advisors, Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the must-be-bookmarked blog Seattle Mama Doc, Dr. Swanson noted that that more and more parents are confusing experience for expertise. Though she didn’t single out this person, you can consider Jenny McCarthy a perfect example: Her experience with her son’s autism is clearly being confused by some as having an expertise in autism.
2. Another doctor spoke about the importance of a pediatrician getting a family history from patients. It’s not easy, since lots of families don’t necessarily know their health history. In fact, one study showed that only 1/3 of people have ever tried to gather and organize their family’s health history. Have you? It’s most helpful for docs to have info on three generations: yours, your parents’, and your grandparents’ (and, of course, your partner’s parents and grandparents).
3. Along those lines, it’s really important to let your pediatrician know if anyone in your family (or your partner’s family) has died suddenly, or if there’s a new family history of cancer. Your child’s doctor can use this information to consider recommending certain health screenings, either now or down the line.
4. Firearm safety was a big focus at this year’s meeting. Did you know that when you look at the rate of deaths in children up to age 14 in 23 high-income countries, 87%of them occur in the United States?
5. The AAP’s position has not changed: The safest home for a child is one without guns. The next-best option is a home where guns are stored safely (as in locked up), unloaded and separate from the ammunition.
6. Pediatricians are noticing a disturbing trend in the country, where they may find themselves limited by the kinds of information they can share with patients. One example is asking parents whether they have a gun in their home–and then talking to them about gun safety. You may remember the controversial Florida law that passed in 2011 restricting pediatricians from having this conversation. The law was determined to be unconstitutional and was overturned, but Florida’s governor is appealing it.
7. Sexual abuse was the subject of a crowded session. One doctor shared this stat: When a child decides to share that she has been abused, she’s more likely to tell a peer than anyone else. (Abused children tell their peers 53% of the time; an adult relative 32% of the time; a non-related adult 10% of the time, and school personnel 3% of the time. 2% of kids tell someone who falls into an “other” category.) This means, said the expert, that there’s an “underground railroad” of kids who know about other kids being abused. She made a point that we didn’t address in our recent story about sexual abuse: We have to teach our children that if a friend tells them that he’s been abused, they should try and help this friend tell an adult who can do something about it.
8. Several sessions dealt with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)–more than I can remember from past conferences. It’s encouraging to know that 70% of those children who experience trauma have no lasting symptoms. Of the 30% who do have lasting symptoms, though, half recover, and half have a chronic form of PTSD. So it’s important to make sure a child who has suffered a trauma–whether that’s abuse, a car accident, witnessing a violent episode, among other examples–gets help.
9. For everyone with a child who has a food allergy, or diabetes, or asthma, or a similar chronic disease: Emergency medical bracelets are always a good idea, especially if your child goes to a day care center or school. Your child’s usual caregiver or teacher may be very well aware of his condition and how to manage or treat it, but new caregivers or substitute teachers can definitely benefit from the info.
10. Last week, a report came out noting that three major health organizations around the world recommend that kids under 6 get three hours a day of physical activity instead of the one hour that’s currently suggested by groups like the AAP. For those of us who have a child younger than 6, this can feel daunting. (And by younger than 6 we’re not talking about, say, newborns–this guideline is meant for kids who are awake at least 12 hours each day.) But a professor who gave an interesting talk called “The Reluctant Athlete: How To Get the Sedentary Child Off the Sofa” put it into context. The one-hour recommendation is for “moderate to vigorous” activity–and that’s just hard for a young child to pull off–so changing it to three hours gives kids more time to be active. It works out to about 15 minutes per hour, which seems doable.
Preschoolers Use Scientific Reasoning, Study Says
A review article in the journal Science sums up a swath of research suggesting that preschoolers can make deductions about cause and effect, infer preferences and test hypotheses. (via CNN)
Possible Link Between Infants’ Regulatory Behaviors and Maternal Mental Health
It is believed that maternal anxiety and depression can influence the child’s capacity to self-regulate, but infant problems can also exaggerate parental mental health issues. (via Science Daily)
U.S. Is Tightening Web Privacy Rule to Shield Young
Federal regulators are about to take the biggest steps in more than a decade to protect children’s privacy online. (via New York Times)
Researchers Investigate Aggression Among Kindergartners
Not all aggressive children are aggressive for the same reasons, according to researchers, who found that some kindergartners who are aggressive show low verbal abilities while others are more easily physiologically aroused. The findings suggest that different types of treatments may be needed to help kids with different underlying causes for problem behavior. (via Science Daily)
Physical Activity Interventions for Children Have ‘Little Impact’, Study Suggests
Physical activity interventions for children have small impact on overall activity levels and consequently the body fat and mass of children, a study suggests. (via Science Daily)