Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

Your Home Environment CAN Increase a Child’s Intelligence

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Girl studentDoes nature or nurture influence how smart a child will be? Although genetics does influence intelligence, new research also suggests that children who are nurtured  in the most ideal environments tend to have greater intelligence.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared the cognitive ability of 436 male sibling pairs in Sweden, one of which was brought up by biological parents and the other by adoptive parents. The IQ of each sibling was measured between the ages of 18 and 20, and each parent’s education level was also rated on a five-point scale (though the study did not distinguish intelligence between the parents).

Researchers found that the IQ of siblings raised by their biological, and typically less-educated, parents were 4.4 points lower than siblings who had been adopted into higher-educated and more financially-secure families.

“The adoptive parents tended to be more educated and in better socioeconomic circumstances than the biological parents,” reports PsychCentral. But when biological parents were more educated, the raised sibling actually had a higher IQ.

Biological and adoptive parents aside though, the home environment was actually the most important reason for smarter kids. Some likely reasons: educated parents are more inclined to have interactive discussions during meals, to take their children to museums, and to read aloud to their children.

However, there is evidence from past studies that may dispute these recent findings. In particular, a 2014 study analyzed parental behaviors and verbal intelligence found that IQ may not actually be the result of parental socialization. Despite this, Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., one of the study’s joint first authors said, “We’re not denying that cognitive ability has important genetic components, but it is a naïve idea to say that it is only genes.”

Determined to boost your child’s intelligence as much as possible? There is recent evidence that breastfeeding your child for at least 12 months could increase their IQ by as much as four points. And another new study affirms that making sure your child has enough schooling — and academic challenges — can also help develop smart kids.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education

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Is Your Son Getting Special Treatment With Smartphones and Video Games?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Boy with tabletParents choose different techniques based on gender when it comes to raising their child—but they might not always realize it.

Recent research revealed that parents lie more in front of boys and that girls are unintentionally discouraged from pursuing math and science. Now a new study has determined that a parent’s technology choices are also influenced by gender.

PlayScience gathered information for their Parents and Platform Perceptions survey about digital devices and a child’s usage. The survey focused on 501 parents with children between the ages of 2 and 9; parents were asked which devices they owned, which ones their child had access to, when and why their child used them, and their own attitude toward the devices.

The survey showed that parents preferred their children to use tablets—especially children’s tablets—far more than smartphones. Parents perceived tablets to be four times more educational that smartphones, and children’s tablets to be six times more educational than smartphones.

Interestingly, gender differences became most pronounced when it came to child-friendly technology and video game use. Thirty-percent of parents allowed girls to use devices based on how “child-friendly” they were considered, compared to only 17 percent of parents with boys. Parents were also more likely to allow boys to use the device of their choice.

As for video game and smartphone usage, parents were three times more likely to allow them for boys. According to BetaBoston, parents “were also slightly more likely to use technology to manage the behavior of boys, such as getting them to go to bed or calming them down when they’re upset.”

“Ironically, parents have distinct and very different perceptions about devices, even when they have almost identical content,” said J. Alison Bryant, MD, co-chief executive and chief play officer at PlayScience. “This study puts parents on notice to be more attentive to their attitudes and behaviors about their children’s media use.”

What do you think? Are you protective of your daughter‘s technology use? Or are you more likely to let your son choose his favorite device?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology

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Parents Across the U.S. Are Saying NO to Standardized Testing

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Standardized TestA growing number of states are adopting Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized testing, and as a response, many parents are refusing to allow their children to take them.

New Jersey and Ohio were the first states to administer these exams, which align closely with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) exams created in 2009, and this year, eight more states will be following their lead.

Many parents argue that these exams focus too strongly on math, reading, and critical thinking skills, and don’t leave room for other important subjects, like science and history. Others, like Parents blogger Lisa Milbrand, believe the exams put an unnecessary amount of stress on their children.

Supporters, though, believe standardized testing is the best way to track a student’s performance, and to assess whether or not the school district is up to par. PARCC is “a valuable tool to know with confidence how their children are doing academically and how best to support their learning,” says Ellen Hur, a spokesperson for the New Mexico state education department.

But some New Jersey school districts have reported that more than 25 percent of their students have opted out of the exam. And these parents are not alone in this battle—hundreds of high school students in New Mexico recently staged walkouts during PARCC testing this year.

Although the kids are not penalized for opting out of exams, federal law states that 95 percent of the student body must complete the exam. If the quota is not met, the school risks losing their federal funding. “The rule is meant to keep administrators from quietly discouraging low performers to stay home on exam day, something that could skew performance upward and hide racial or socio-economic inequities,” reports the Washington Post. However, it’s unlikely that schools will be penalized for the opt-out portion of students.

As always, social media is helping to spread these displays of civil disobedience to an even wider audience, which may lead more parents and students to join the opt-out movement.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School

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Are Teachers’ Prejudices Affecting Your Daughter’s Math and Science Grades?

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Female studentGirls can do anything boys can do, especially in math and science, but what if teachers, whose goal is to educate and empower kids, are discouraging girls from these subjects without knowing it?

This may be the case, according to new study conducted by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The research suggests that the perceptions elementary school teachers have about what girls can and can’t do in math and science might be causing female students to shy away from those areas. Their unconscious biases are negatively impacting girls and unintentionally affecting the academic and career choices that female students make later in life.

Three groups of students, from sixth grade through the end of high school, were asked to take two exams. The exams were then graded by two different people: one who didn’t know their names and one who did. The results showed that girls were scored higher than boys only when their tests were graded by the objective scorer versus the familiar scorer, reports Science Daily.

Researchers in Tel Aviv continued to follow the students and also noticed a pattern: if a girl was discouraged by an elementary school teacher, they were less likely to register for advanced-level science and math courses. But boys who were encouraged, despite being scored lower, actually began to excel more and more.

“It isn’t an issue of discrimination but of unconscious discouragement,” said Dr. Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel and an instructor at TAU’s Berglas School of Economics. “This discouragement, however, has implications. The track to computer science and engineering fields, which report some of the highest salaries, tapers off in elementary school.”

Women around the world are still underrepresented in multiple fields, especially ones related to math and science. Although strides have been made in the U.S. to help young girls have a more STEM-focused education, to play with more toys related to science, technology, engineering, and math, and teach them how to code with HTML, there is still more to be done so that they won’t face inequalities in the future.

As parents, it’s important to continue encouraging kids, regardless of gender, to pursue all endeavors, which will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)
What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)
What Parents Don't Need to Do (When it comes to school)

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How Do Parents Really Choose Their Children’s Schools?

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Children going to schoolParents want what’s best for their children—they want to provide them with the best chance for success and the best opportunities, which means picking the right school is a priority.

However, a new study published by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans suggests that parents don’t always choose schools solely based on academic prestige. Research found that “parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars,” according to NPR.

The majority of New Orleans children attend charter schools—9 out of 10—which leaves more room for choice than areas where public schools are most popular. Researchers established a few key findings when they analyzed the schools parents actually picked: distance from home, extracurriculars (especially for high schoolers), and available before- or after-school programs. These three factors were especially important for low-income families. Parents still cared about academics—but not as much as they said when interviewed about the topic.

While this study only reflects the choices of New Orleans parents, it’s likely that parents in other areas of the country make very similar decisions. Further research by the Education Research Alliance is in the works to establish if the same trends occur in other cities.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School

Image: Children getting on school bus via Shutterstock

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