Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

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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Math and Reading Skills Are Affected by the Same Genes

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

A point against the idea that there’s a good-at-math gene you’re lacking—scientists have discovered that many of the genes that influence a child’s math ability also impact their skill at reading. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, compared DNA and math and reading test results for nearly 2,800 12-year-olds in the UK, looking for DNA differences and how skills matched up.

Of course, there isn’t complete overlap (could that account for the lack of math or language prowess in an otherwise brilliant person?)—and the study authors also found that nurture can also play a role in whether your child becomes the next Einstein or Shakespeare.

“We looked at this question in two ways, by comparing the similarity of thousands of twins, and by measuring millions of tiny differences in their DNA. Both analyses show that similar collections of subtle DNA differences are important for reading and maths,” study author Oliver Davis, of University College London, said in a school news release.

“However, it’s also clear just how important our life experience is in making us better at one or the other. It’s this complex interplay of nature and nurture as we grow up that shapes who we are.”

Not sure where your child’s talents lie? Take our quiz.

Image: Kids at school by Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com

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Overscheduling Kids Could Slow Development of Problem-Solving Skills

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

If you ever needed an excuse not to sign up for soccer and karate and piano lessons, here it is: A new study published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that overscheduling kids impairs their ability to develop executive functions. (That’s a series of essential skills, including self direction, problem solving, and decision making.) That’s on top of a previous study, published last year in Parenting: Science and Practice, that showed that preschoolers whose parents directed their play were less happy than those who were given free rein to play what they wanted.

The study involved 70 six-year-olds, whose parents recorded their children’s daily activities for a week, and they were rated as structured vs. free play. Those who had more free play performed better on a test where they were asked to name as many animals as they could in a minute, because they were better able to organize their thoughts and produce more answers.

So maybe cutting back on the classes could do more for your kids in the long run.

Are you a helicopter parent? Find out with our quiz.

Image: Kids playing by Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock.com

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Preschoolers Top College Students in Figuring Out Some Gadgets

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Young children–just 4 or 5 years old–may be better at college students at catching on when it comes to operating mobile apps, remote controls, and other tech gadgets that often leave adults scratching their heads and fumbling through manuals.  According to new research from the University of California at Berkeley, it’s the tots’ openness to thinking about new challenges in multiple ways that enables them to problem-solve their way to success with gadgets and games.

In the study, more than 100 preschoolers and more than 170 college students were given a music box game and shown how the placement of differently-shaped clay pieces on top of the box might make it turn on.  The subjects were then asked to turn the box on.  NPR reports on the findings:

“What we discovered, to our surprise, was not only were 4-year-olds amazingly good at doing this, but they were actually better at it than grown-ups were,” [psychologist Alison] Gopnik says.

So why are little kids who can’t even tie their shoes better at figuring out the gadget than adults? After all, conventional wisdom contends that young children really don’t understand abstract things like cause and effect until pretty late in their development.

Gopnik thinks it’s because children approach solving the problem differently than adults.

Children try a variety of novel ideas and unusual strategies to get the gadget to go. For example, Gopnik says, “If the child sees that a square block and a round block independently turn the music on, then they’ll take a square and take a circle and put them both on the machine together to make it go, even though they never actually saw the experimenters do that.”

This is flexible, fluid thinking — children exploring an unlikely hypothesis. Exploratory learning comes naturally to young children, says Gopnik. Adults, on the other hand, jump on the first, most obvious solution and doggedly stick to it, even if it’s not working. That’s inflexible, narrow thinking. “We think the moral of the study is that maybe children are better at solving problems when the solution is an unexpected one,” says Gopnik.

Gopnik went on to say that this openness may disappear early in childhood–even by kindergarten, it may be diminishing.

What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone
What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone
What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone

Image: Confused college student, via Shutterstock

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Kids: Our Parents Care More About Achievements Than Kindness

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

A Harvard University survey of school-aged kids has found that 80 percent of children believe that their parents care more about happiness and academic and athletic achievement than moral attributes like kindness.  The survey collected opinions from 10,000 children from 33 school districts nationwide, and though researchers were not surprised that kids reported parental concern about their happiness, they were taken aback by how strongly children perceive their parents’ attention to be focused on achievement as a priority.  More from Today.com:

Students said that achievement was the most important value and thought their peers would agree. More importantly, students reported that their parents appreciated achievement much more than happiness or kindness. They were three times as likely to agree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member.”

This means kids think much less about being nice than they do about getting an A on a test, winning a swim meet, or being best camper. Yet, all this focus on accomplishment doesn’t lead to content kids.

“The achievement pressure can have a bunch of negative results,” says Weissbourd, who is co-director of the Making Caring Common project. “I’m concerned that it makes kids less happy.”

Weissbourd says living up to this standard causes stress and depression and can lead to bad behaviors, such as cheating. Studies have found that 50 percent of students admit to cheating and 75 percent say they have copied someone else’s homework, possibly in an attempt to live up to expectations.

But, teaching children about caring can enrich their lives.

“I think that the irony is that when kids are caring and really able to tune in and take responsibility for other people, they are going to have better relationships,” he says. “And those relationships are probably the most important aspect of happiness. 

Manners & Responsibility: 3 Manners All Kids Should Know
Manners & Responsibility: 3 Manners All Kids Should Know
Manners & Responsibility: 3 Manners All Kids Should Know

Image: Straight A’s report card, via Shutterstock

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