U.S. Students Still Lag Globally in Math and Science, Tests Show
Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science, although American fourth graders are closer to the top performers in reading, according to test results released on Tuesday. (via New York Times)
Obesity in Young Is Seen as Falling in Several Cities
After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines. The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students. (via New York Times)
Vermont Tops Lists of Healthiest States
The annual America’s Health Rankings list is out, pitting U.S. states against each other in a no-holds-barred contest of health. For the fourth year in a row, Vermont takes the top spot as healthiest state. How did your state fare? (via ABC Health)
Overeating in Children may be Linked to Drug Use
Do bad nutrition habits like overeating or binge eating lead to smoking pot? Some health experts think they might, according to a study published Monday. (via CNN Health)
D Is for Divorce: Sesame Street Tackles Another Touchy Topic
In early 1992, a census report predicted that 40% of children would soon live in divorced homes. As one of the most famous children’s-television programs in the world, Sesame Street was determined to take on a topic most kids shows wouldn’t touch. (via Time)
There are just over 50 days left until the start of the London Olympics and we couldn’t be more excited! While all of the athletes are undeniably talented, we’ll be cheering a little louder for all of the parents who will be competing. Raising kids and preparing to win gold? That deserves a medal in and of itself.
But there’s one other person (well, more like a monster) we’ll be pulling for: Elmo!
To show the International Olympic Committee (IOC) how serious he is about his quest, Elmo has made a video where he tries a few sports. Yes, he struggles with the hurdles and has some difficulty with weight-lifting, but we admire Elmo’s determination. Those of you with toddlers know how difficult it can be to teach them to persevere.
Have you ever been to Sesame Street Live? I’ve been three times over the years, and as much as my girls adore the whole Sesame gang, I’d been thinking we’d gotten this particular show out of our system. But in lots of cities, the creators have found a fun way to freshen up the experience: the new Play Zone. This weekend I checked it out with my 3-year-old, Lila, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where shows are running through this Sunday, February 26.
Play Zone is free with your ticket, and it works like this: One hour before show time, kids can run wild through a version of the actual Sesame Street, staged in the lobby. For us parents, it amounts to a massive photo op–you can get a shot of your child in Big Bird’s nest, in Zoe’s dance studio, in Elmo’s World, in a trash can next to Oscar (the photo on top is of Lila doing just that, looking quite skeptical, as she often does). Your kid can pose on the famous steps of Sesame Street (now that put a smile on my girl’s face!), or with cutouts of Grover or Count or Abby Cadabby, among others. And then you’re treated to an “impromptu” performance from any number of the actual characters–some of the ones we saw were Murray, Bert & Ernie, and Zoe. They sang, danced, and hugged the kids in the crowd (unless your child, like mine, backed away in fear).
And then it was time for the actual 90-minute show, “1-2-3 Imagine! With Elmo & Friends,” which was all about the places we can go using our imaginations. It was very sweet, of course, and every kid I saw was mesmerized.
So if you’re considering checking out Sesame Street Live, see if your city is one of the many offering the Play Zone. Even if it isn’t, your child is nearly guaranteed to have a blast.
Babies Lip-Read, May Offer Autism Clues
For years, the conventional wisdom was that babies learned how to talk by listening to their parents. But a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that our little angels are using more than their ears to acquire language.
This Sunday, October 9, my family and I will be watching “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” a one-hour Sesame Street special designed to raise awareness about hunger in the United States and its impact on children. (Click on the screen to watch a behind-the-scenes video.) This is a topic we pay close attention to at Parents (see our story and the accompanying mini-documentary), and it’s one that the folks at Sesame Street have been addressing for quite some time. They have an initiative called Food For Thought which offers resources that provide assistance, powerful videos of families affected by hunger, and much more. This primetime special is the latest step, made possible by funding from Walmart. It’s hosted by Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley and features a new Muppet named Lily, who sometimes needs the services of a food pantry. The special also features four families who candidly share their own experiences in needing help getting enough to eat; they are the heart of “Growing Hope Against Hunger” and their stories will move you.
Every family with children as young as preschool-age can benefit from watching. Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president for outreach and educational practices at Sesame Workshop, told me that the special has two important missions: to continue to provide hope and strategies to those experiencing food insecurity, and to teach those who aren’t affected that they can play a role and help others. The goal is to jumpstart a meaningful conversation, whether it begins with “This is happening to our family, and we’re not alone” or “This is happening to families in our community, and there’s something we can do to help.” Families who don’t have enough to eat feel very isolated, she said. I especially liked what Dr. Betancourt said about the very act of talking about the problem: “It allows you to move forward.”
I’ll be honest: Hunger is not an issue I’ve ever explained to my daughters, who are 6 and 3. As a parent, I’m so glad to have a show like this to introduce the subject in a clear, compassionate way and to talk about how we can make a difference. Click here to find out when and on what channel the show will air in your area.
Okay, I have to end by showing this picture of me and a certain lovable, furry monster. I got to meet him over the summer when I visited the set of Sesame Street (career highlight!) to watch the filming of “Growing Hope Against Hunger.”
Parents of 6-year-old outraged over airport patdown
The parents of a 6-year-old American girl who got a pat-down at an airport security checkpoint earlier this month said Wednesday that there should be different screening procedures for children. Dr. Todd and Selena Drexel of Bowling Green, Kentucky, said that daughter Anna was confused by the security procedure at New Orleans airport, a video of which has been widely viewed since the family posted it on YouTube. (Yahoo News)
Young parents may let healthy lifestyle slip
It might not come as a surprise to busy parents, but a new study suggests that having young children may make it tougher to keep up healthy diet and exercise habits. The study, which surveyed more than 1,500 young adults, found that those with children age 5 or younger generally exercised less often than non-parents. And among women, young moms tended to eat more calories, sugary drinks and saturated fat — the artery-clogging fat found in meat, butter and milk. (Yahoo News)
Sesame Street beams American dream to Pakistan
The United States has turned to oversized puppets in its newest attempt to win hearts and minds in Pakistan, funding a $20 million remake of popular children’s TV programme Sesame Street. (Yahoo News)
Elmo turned 3 ½-years-old today. Wait, didn’t he turn 3 ½-years-old last year, too? Guess our favorite Sesame Street character will always be young at heart! The lovable Elmo tweeted this morning, “Elmo wants to thank everyone for all the birthday wishes! But Elmo only has 140 spaces? How does Elmo get everyone’s name in?”
With all the fun games, delicious food, and great company, we’re sure your little one won’t forget this celebration anytime soon. Also, don’t get overwhelmed with all the planning. Make sure to check out our party planning tips.