Friday, January 4th, 2013
Children who struggle with motor skills may be at higher risk for poor academic achievement when they reach adolescence, according to a new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The New York Times reports:
Scientists studied 8,061 Finnish children in a database that included weight, height, physical activity, parent-reported motor function at age 8 and academic achievement at 16.
Poor motor function, physical inactivity and obesity, the researchers found, contribute independently and in complex interrelationships to academic underachievement. Poor motor function, in other words, may set a child on the developmental track to poor grades.
The authors acknowledged that their data on motor function and physical activity relied on self-reports, which are not always reliable.
Image: Toddler climbing stacks of books, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Babies who are born at 37 or 38 weeks–considered to be “full term” but on the early end of the 37-41-week spectrum–may face increased risk of academic performance issues in school, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. The Huffington Post has more:
The study involved 128,000 New York City public school children and included a sizable number of kids from disadvantaged families. But the authors said similar results likely would be found in other children, too.
Of the children born at 37 weeks, 2.3 percent had severely poor reading skills and 1.1 percent had at least moderate problems in math. That compares to 1.8 percent and 0.9 percent for the children born at 41 weeks.
Children born at 38 weeks faced only slightly lower risks than those born at 37 weeks.
Compared with 41-weekers, children born at 37 weeks faced a 33 percent increased chance of having severe reading difficulty in third grade, and a 19 percent greater chance of having moderate problems in math.
“These outcomes are critical and predict future academic achievement,” said Naomi Breslau, a Michigan State University professor and sociologist. Her own research has linked lower IQs in 6-year-olds born weighing the same as the average birth weights at 37 and 38 weeks’ gestation, compared with those born heavier.
Image: Girl in school, via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
A new 15-year study shows that the ways parents play with their children at age 2 has a direct correlation with how well they perform academically throughout their school years. Researchers from Utah State University’s department of Family, Consumer and Human Development (FCHD) followed 229 children from low-income families. Mothers, fathers, or both parents played regularly with the children, and some of the children also received Early Head Start educational experiences.
The study isolated four types of play that had a direct effect on later academic performance:
- Encouraging and engaging in pretend play
- Presenting activities in an organized sequence of steps
- Elaborating on the pictures, words, and actions in a book or on unique attributes of objects
- Relating play activity or book text to the child’s experience
The role of each parent also was a factor. The researchers looked at two different family types, those who lived with biological fathers and those who didn’t. They found that in both these family situations, children perform better academically when mothers teach more during play with their toddlers. When live-in biological fathers teach during play with their toddlers, they make an additional positive contribution to their child’s 5th grade math and reading performance.
Image: Mother and daughter playing with blocks, via Shutterstock.