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Friday, October 4th, 2013
Math just got a little more fun with PEG + CAT, the new animated series from PBS KIDS. The show premieres this Monday, October 7, and promises to make problem-solving skills a breeze for your preschooler.
In each 30-minute episode, Peg and her lovable sidekick Cat encounter dilemmas that require some big thinking. Whether they’re trying a hand at adding and subtracting or learning broader concepts like size and geometry, the pair never back down from a number challenge (or a catchy learning tune). With backdrops like a pirate island or futuristic planet, the program proves math can be exciting and happen in the most unexpected places.
PEG + CAT comes at a vital time when children’s math skills are in dire need. National assessments have shown that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the fourth grade, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress Report.
Another inspiring element of the show: The main character is a young girl. While women make up 48 percent of the workforce, only 23 percent are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Let’s hope a character as spirited and outspoken as Peg will be inspiration for boys AND girls everywhere to get their brains calculating.
Beyond math, PEG + CAT shows young ones the process of trial and error, such as figuring out multiple ways to move 100 chickens back to their coop. She may not get it right the first time, but Peg eventually learns from her mistakes and seeks help from friends along the way, both awesome life skills for the real world as well.
Want to get a sneak peek this weekend? Visit the show’s interactive website pbskids.org/peg, where you can also find local listings for the show, or download the PET + CAT Big Gig app for games and learning resources now.
Check out the video below to see how PEG + CAT was created!
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Monday, May 20th, 2013
Childhood ADHD tied to obesity decades later
Boys who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school are more likely to grow up to be obese adults than those who don’t have the condition, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)
Newer whooping cough vaccine not as protective
A newer version of the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t protect kids as well as the original, which was phased out in the 1990s because of safety concerns, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form
Through programs across the country, nurses, social workers or trained mentors offer support to new or expectant parents and impart skills to help them become better teachers for their children. (via Washington Post)
City closure of Cobble Hill preschool means kids are having ‘classes’ in parks, museums as parents fume
The Linden Tree Preschool is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. The city closed it on May 9, saying it did not have permits for infants or toddlers. Since then, parents have taken their kids to the park and other field trips where teachers have been instructing the kids. (via NY Daily News)
USA Football health and safety survey shows few youth concussions
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Fewer than 4 percent of youth players surveyed in a USA Football-sanctioned study suffered concussions in the 10 leagues examined. (via Fox News)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a small round table for editors in Washington D.C. Monday, and I was among those in attendance. Duncan invited us to discuss what he and President Obama hope will be their biggest legacy in the area of education: the vast expansion of public preschool availability for America’s children. In particular, the proposed initiative is designed to reach underprivileged kids who have no other quality early-education option. “The average child from a disadvantaged community enters school 12 to 18 months behind,” says Duncan, who adds that the U.S ranks 25 out of 29 industrialized nations in offering quality public preschool. Only 28 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded programs. And, sadly, the trend appears to be headed in the wrong direction. According to a study released yesterday by the National Institute for Early Education Research, state funding for pre-K fell by more than $500 million dollars last year, the largest one-year drop ever. Funding has fallen more than 20 percent during the past decade.
To change that, Duncan is proposing a $75 billion plan over the next decade to support states that expand their preschool offerings, at first to those that live near the poverty line but also, eventually, to middle-income families as well. The Administration has proposed funding the program with a 94-cent tax on tobacco products, in part because he cites projections that the added tariff will prevent nearly 250,000 kids from developing a smoking habit during that time.
At a time when Washington is mired in legislative gridlock, the preschool plan seems ambitious at the least. But Duncan believes it is essential to help our nation make up ground with other countries so that our kids are well-prepared for school and ready to succeed in an ever-more-competitive global economy. Duncan cites surveys showing that for every dollar that goes into preschool and early-childhood education, there’s a 7-to-1 return in the future payoff. “It’s the best bang for an educational buck,” he says. Children who attend quality preschool enter kindergarten with better prereading and social skills, stronger vocabularies and math knowledge, and a greater chance of graduating from high school and becoming productive members of the work force later on. That’s why the Federal government would pay states up to 90 percent of the preschool expansion costs at first (though that figure would diminish over time). In return, the program would require that the pre-K programs be high-quality and, ideally, full-day, taught by certified teachers and with an instructor-to-student ratio of 10 to 1 or less. Can Duncan and the Administration rally Congress to allocate the money and convince states to play ball? Duncan concedes it’s a challenge. But as he and other supporters are quick to point out, this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is an American issue.
What do you think—would you support a tobacco tax to be used to expand quality public pre-K programs?
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Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Preschool For All Plan in Obama Budget May Skip Some States
President Barack Obama’s “Preschool for All” initiative in his 2014 budget proposal is billed as a way to make sure every American child can attend preschool for free. Helping kids in their early years can ease achievement gaps and help them enter the workforce later on, the administration said. “This would constitute the largest expansion of educational opportunity in the 21st century,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on a Wednesday call with reporters. (via Huffington Post)
Young Children Have Grammar and Chimpanzees Don’t
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that children as young as 2 understand basic grammar rules when they first learn to speak and are not simply imitating adults. The study also applied the same statistical analysis on data from one of the most famous animal language-acquisition experiments — Project Nim — and showed that Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was taught sign language over the course of many years, never grasped rules like those in a 2-year-old’s grammar. (via Science Daily)
Study Finds No Fertility Drug, Ovarian Cancer Link
Despite lingering concerns that using fertility drugs might raise a woman’s chances for later developing ovarian cancer, new research suggests the drugs don’t contribute any added risk. “One important message is women who need to use fertility drugs to get pregnant should not worry about using these fertility drugs,” said Dr. Albert Asante, lead author of the study and a clinical fellow in the division of reproductive endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. (via Reuters)
How Childhood Hunger Can Change Adult Personality
The effects of going hungry in childhood may be more lasting than previously thought. Researchers studying people raised on Barbados who suffered severe starvation as infants found these adults were more anxious, less sociable, less interested in new experiences and more hostile than those who were well-nourished throughout childhood, according to a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. (via TIME)
Car Exhaust Linked to Childhood Cancers, Study Finds
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Scientific experts have reams of data to show that the nation faces an epidemic of illnesses that are exacerbated by vehicle exhaust. These illnesses include cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and diabetes. The latest study, presented on April 8, 2013 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., showed a possible link between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and several childhood cancers. (via Fox News)
Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Most Restaurant Kids’ Meals Packed With Calories
Most kids’ meals at the USA’s top chain restaurants are still failing to make the grade when it comes to good nutrition, a new analysis finds. (via USA Today)
Genetic Variants and Wheezing Put Kids At Risk For Asthma
Almost every toddler will sniffle through a cold by the time they are three, but if they wheeze while they’re sick, they may be at higher risk of developing asthma. (via TIME)
Quality Preschool Benefits Poor and Affluent Kids, Study Finds
Quality prekindergarten programs can boost children’s school skills whether the kids come from poor or well-off homes, a new study shows. (via NBC News)
Bulletproof Backpacks for Kids: Cautious Protection or Feeding Anxiety?
A wave of parents are willing to try the extreme and controversial measure of making their children wear bulletproof materials to protect them at school in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., and other school shootings. But gun control advocates see this as a disturbing sign of how willing we have become to accept gun violence as the norm. (via ABC News)
Warren Buffett On Teaching Kids Smart Investing, With Cartoons
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Kids will learn practical and valuable lessons about money management and can easily relate to the easy-going and fun, animated series. (via Forbes)
anxiety, asthma, bulletproof backpacks, gun violence, investing, kids in restaurants, kids meals, Noelia de la Cruz, Parents Daily News Roundup, preschool, Warren Buffett | Categories:
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
The power of friendship, adventure and reading could soon be coming to a city near you!
The popular Emmy-nominated preschool TV series Super WHY! recently announced dates for an upcoming live tour “Super WHY Live: You’ve Got the Power!” Written by the show’s creator Angela Santomero (also the creator of Blue’s Clues), the show features music produced by guitarist Jack Antonoff, of the Grammy Award-winning band fun. Kids (and parents too!) will love dancing and singing along with the cast of superhero characters plucked from the pages of classic storybook favorites, as they heroically take on challenges in the name of literature.
The tour kicks off April 2nd in Seattle, and will travel to 27 cities around the country in April and May.
Watch a clip of the live show below, and see a full list of tour dates.
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Angela Santomero, Blue's Clues, children's literature, fun, Jack Antonoff, literacy, pbs, preschool, reading, Super Why, TV | Categories:
Monday, March 11th, 2013
Pet Frogs Linked to Salmonella Outbreak in Kids: CDC
Small water frogs marketed and sold as pets are linked to an outbreak of Salmonella infections from 2008 to 2011, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (via Reuters)
Whooping Cough Vaccine Protection Wanes
Protection against whooping cough starts to weaken a few years after preschool children get their final diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) shot, a new study confirms. (via Reuters)
Study Recommends: Buckle Up During Pregnancy
Despite some women’s worry that seat belts or air bags could harm a baby in utero in the case of an accident, expectant mothers who are not wearing a seatbelt during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy, according to a U.S. study. (via Reuters)
Guns in Classrooms: South Dakota Governor Signs Law Allowing Teachers to Arm Themselves
Teachers are now allowed to bring guns into the classroom in South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed House Bill 1087 into law Friday, enabling state school boards to “supervise the arming of school employees” or hire security personnel. (via Huffington Post)
How Would Preschool for All Work: Is it All About Play or ABCs?
Not many would take issue with President Obama’s recent call to make high-quality preschool a reality for more U.S. kids. Even before Obama announced his intentions, both Democrats and Republicans had already lined up in their home states to push preschool programs, with more than a dozen states considering bolstering early education. (via TIME)
When Food is Scarce, a Smaller Brain Will Do
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A new study explains how young brains are protected when nutrition is poor. The findings, published on March 7th in Cell Reports, a Cell Press publication, reveal a coping strategy for producing a fully functional, if smaller, brain. The discovery, which was made in larval flies, shows the brain as an incredibly adaptable organ and may have implications for understanding the developing human brain as well, the researchers say. (via Science Daily)
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Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
This is a guest post from Ann O’Leary, the director of the Children and Families Program at the Center for the Next Generation. The Center has launched a campaign called Too Small to Fail, a national movement to raise awareness about the state of America’s children and how the country can come together to create a stronger future for the next generation; we at Parents are one of its partners. O’Leary focused on the part of President Obama’s address that most directly impacts parents of young children: universal preschool.
Last night, President Obama began his State of the Union by harkening back to President John F. Kennedy’s declaration that it is the President’s task “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.” Top among the list of President Obama’s “unfinished tasks”: to make sure that our government works “to open the door of opportunity to every child across this great nation.”
President Obama’s plan to open these doors includes making “high-quality preschool available to every child in America.” If that happens, this could mean a brighter future for millions of children’s lives. Today, nearly 5 million children in the United States, or roughly 36 percent of all children ages 3 to 5, receive no form of early childhood education –- even when we know that’s one of the fundamental building blocks for success later in life. According to a RAND study: “Scientiﬁcally rigorous studies show that well-designed preschool programs serving 3- and 4-year-olds can improve school readiness and raise performance on academic achievement tests in the early elementary grades.”
Investing in preschool education also means great economic prosperity for our country. As Nobel Laureate James Heckman has outlined time and again, early childhood education gives back to society in real economic terms, with a “7 to 10 percent per year return on investment.” President Obama highlighted this research in his speech, noting, “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on –- by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”
But the task of making high-quality preschool available to every child in America is not going to be easy. In 2011, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, two-thirds of those states with state funded preschool programs made budget cuts to their preschool programs as states have felt the constraints of a weak economy. As the Center for American Progress outlined in their most recent proposal, it is going to take a partnership with federal and state investments leveraging local resources to truly create universal preschool and make sure that families’ income level is not the driving factor in deciding how much education their children can receive.
Despite the hard road to make these investments, they are critical to our future as an economic and global leader. Our competitors already have realized that investments in early learning are one of the keys to economic prosperity in the future.
In a study by the Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American progress called “The Competition that Really Matters,” we show that sustained competition from India and China are serious threats to our economic competitiveness. By 2020, China will provide 70 percent of all children with three years of early education and by 2030 China will have more college graduates than the entire American workforce.
I congratulate the President for making it clear that preschool for all should be a national priority. We need investments in early childhood education now; not only to nourish growing minds, but to set the foundations of a more efficient –- and internationally competitive –- economy for generations to come.
Photo: kindergarten, preschool classroom via Shutterstock.
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