Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

Want Smarter Kids? Don’t Feed Them Fast Food!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Hungry boy looking at burgerWe all know fast food (even without trans fat) is bad for you, but a new study now offers a significant link between fast food being detrimental to kids’ education, reports ScienceDaily.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom,” says Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study.

The study, published online in Clinical Pediatrics, tracked 11,740 students starting in fifth grade and then again in eighth grade. Data was collected between 1998-1999 by the National Center for Educational Statistics and sorted by various researchers at Ohio State University.

Kids were asked about their fast food consumption in fifth grade only, and then tested on reading, math, and science in both grades. Researchers discovered that kids who ate fast food either every day or four to six times a week in fifth grade showed significantly lower improvement in all three subjects by the time they were in eighth grade. There was a 20 percent difference between kids who ate a lot of fast food and kids who didn’t.

And kids who ate fast food one to three times a week also tested lower in math, compared to kids who didn’t eat any fast food.

Although more research will have to be conducted, the study shows the importance of encouraging healthy eating habits in kids from an early age. Parents don’t have to ban fast food from kids’ diets, but whenever possible, they should provide foods high in vitamins and nutrients and low in sugar and fat, to help improve kids’ achievements in school.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Hungry boy looking at burger via Shutterstock

 

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Include Kids with Disabilities in the Classroom for Language Benefits

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

A new study that followed 670 preschool-aged children in Ohio for a year is urging that integrating children with disabilities, who are enrolled in special education programs in school, into regular-ability classrooms may have a remarkable impact on the special needs’ kids language skills over the course of a school year.  Laura Justice, co-author of the study and professor of teaching and learning at The Ohio State University, says that the results should encourage schools who are considering inclusion models where children with disabilities are placed in the same classroom as peers who are developing normally.  More from Science Daily:

“Students with disabilities are the ones who are affected most by the language skills of the other children in their class,” Justice said.

“We found that children with disabilities get a big boost in their language scores over the course of a year when they can interact with other children who have good language skills.”

In fact, after one year of preschool, children with disabilities had language skills comparable to children without disabilities when surrounded by highly skilled peers in their classroom.

“The biggest problem comes when we have a classroom of children with disabilities with no highly skilled peers among them,” Justice said. “In that case, they have limited opportunity to improve their use of language.”

Justice added that highly-skilled children’s language abilities were not negatively affected by having the special needs children in their classrooms.

Image: Preschool letters and numbers, via Shutterstock

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What the Annual ‘Kids Count’ Report Discovered About U.S. Kids

Friday, July 25th, 2014

The annual “Kids Count” report that measures the well-being of American children based on 16 indicators of economic, educational, health, and family welfare, has found encouraging improvements in several areas nationwide, chiefly a rising number of children who are attending preschool, and a steady decline in the number of kids who lag behind in reading and math. Also, national declines in the teen pregnancy, birth, and death rates suggest a brightening future for U.S. youth.

But the news from the report, which is published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is now in its 25th year, is not all good. It also found a concerning rise in the number of children growing up in poor communities, and an increasing percentage of kids who are growing up in single-parent households.

“We should all be encouraged by the improvements in many well-being indicators in the health, education and safety areas,” said Patrick McCarthy, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s president and CEO said in a news release. “But we must do much more. All of us, in every sector — business, government, nonprofits, faith-based groups, families — need to continue to work together to ensure that all children have the chance to succeed.”

The foundation published the list of state-by-state rankings, which listed Massachusetts as the top-ranked state in education and overall, and Mississippi as the lowest-ranking state overall as well as in the economic well-being and family and community categories.  Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Minnesota rounded out the top 5 states, and New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana, and Arizona joined Mississippi in the bottom 5.

Image: Chalkboard, via Shutterstock

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Babies’ Brains Gear Up to Speak Way Before First Word

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Even if your baby isn’t speaking yet, her brain is developing speech skills—and you’re helping the process along whenever you talk around her. It turns out that babies age 7- to 12-months have stimulation in the brain whenever other people in the room are talking, according to a new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. The infants were monitored using a brain scanning technique.

Most babies are only babbling at that age and don’t start talking until after they turn one. However, areas of their brains are already planning and coordinating for those first words. They’re preparing how to talk back even if they aren’t actually saying anything coherent. More from HealthDay News:

“Hearing us talk exercises the action areas of infants’ brains, going beyond what we thought happens when we talk to them. Infants’ brains are preparing them to act on the world by practicing how to speak before they actually say a word,” Patricia Kuhl, author of the study and co-director of the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a university news release.

Use our milestone tracker to record Baby’s first words, first steps, and much more!

Image via Shutterstock

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Parents Spend $1,360 Per Year For…

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Surveys show that raising a child to age 18 will likely cost parents around $250,000. But in addition to child care, food, health care and other essentials, it looks like $1,360 a year is paid in cash to children under 10, either in the form of weekly allowance, cash gifts, or out-and-out bribes for good behavior, according to a new survey. Coupon site vouchercloud.net surveyed 2,173 parents, and found that they paid out about $113 each month to each child under 10. (No word on what parents are shelling out for tweens and teens!) But it seems much of that is under duress—two thirds of those surveyed wished that they didn’t hand over so much cash to their kids.

An allowance presents a good opportunity to help teach children about fiscal responsibility, and allowing them to learn to save their money toward financial goals, before they get access to credit or that very first real paycheck. And apparently, more parents are trying to start that financial education early.

How financially savvy are you with your paycheck? Take our quiz to find out!

Manners & Responsibility:  Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?
Manners & Responsibility:  Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?
Manners & Responsibility: Should You Tie Allowance to Chores?

Image: Girl with bank by Gelpi JM/Shutterstock.com

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