Friday, March 15th, 2013
A preschool teacher from Morgan Hill, California has been fired–and arrested–amid allegations that she put sleeping pills in the sippy cups of kids who are not yet 2 years old. More from ABC News:
“We do not know the quantity, but we believe she was breaking the pill into smaller pieces and putting it into the children’s sippy cups,” Morgan Hill Sgt. of Investigations Troy Hoefling told ABC News.
The school told ABC News it had “terminated” Debbie Gratz, 59, last Friday “for failure to follow Kiddie Academy standards and processes.”
“Ms. Gratz was witnessed adding a substance to the water cups for her classroom of 10 children,” Morgan Hill Kiddie Academy added in a prepared statement. “The cups were confiscated before they came in contact with any children prior to the academy opening for business that day.”
A fellow employee saw Gratz place an unknown substance in the toddler’s sippy cups on Friday and notified school officials, according to Morgan Hill Police – though police apparently weren’t told until Monday.
“They made notifications internally. Unfortunately, the problem with that is not only do we not get on the case right away but we lose precious evidence,” Hoefling told ABC News. “We only found out those cups had been washed out and rinsed.”
Police said they had no plans to charge the school regarding the delay in reporting the incident, but the district attorney could review the matter.
Image: Sippy cup, via Shutterstock
Monday, June 4th, 2012
Research by Dr. Celia Ayala, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit that funds 325 schools in Los Angeles County, Calif., using money from tobacco taxes, has found that children who get preschool educations have better success on a number of measures later in life. From The Wall Street Journal:
“When they enter kindergarten ready to thrive with all the social, emotional and cognitive skills, they perform at grade level or above,” [Ayala] said. “When they don’t, that’s where that achievement gap starts.”
Kids without that early boost have been shown to be more likely to get special-needs services, be held back a grade or two, get in trouble with the law and become teen parents. Preschool alumni have a better chance, she said.
“Those who go to preschool will go on to university, will have a graduate education, and their income level will radically improve,” she said.
Dr. Ayala and other early-education advocates participated in a Washington panel on preschools earlier this month, arguing that days spent with Play-Doh could hold the key to job success in adult life.
Fewer than half of American children attend preschool, with the rest either staying at home with parents or attending day care programs.
Image: Girl at preschool, via Shutterstock.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Nearly half of three- to five-year-old children do not have daily outdoor playtime with parents or caregivers, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study collected data on 9,000 families, and found that though mothers took children outside more often than fathers, half of the children did not get regular outdoor playtime at all.
CNN.com has more:
“There’s a big room for improvement in how parents prioritize their time and what they’re doing in the time they’re spending with their pre-school children,” said lead study author Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children play outside as much as possible, for at least 60 minutes a day. Physical activity is not only good for weight control and preventing childhood obesity; previous research also suggests playing outside improves motor development, vision and vitamin D levels.
“There is evidence that play – just sort of the act of playing – is important for children’s development of their social skills and their peer interactions,” Tandon said. “Being outdoors affords children an opportunity to play in ways that they may not get to when they’re indoors.”
Researchers suggested that families address outdoor time with child care centers or preschools their children attend, or work with community groups and friends to devise creative ways to incorporate more outdoor play into kids’ routines.
Image: Empty playground, via Shutterstock.
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Parents who urge their child care providers to focus more on learning than on vigorous physical play may be doing their kids a disservice, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Nearly three-quarters of American children between ages 3 and 5 are enrolled in some sort of child care, and the study reports that most of these kids spend most of their days doing sedentary activites.
The Washington Post’s parenting blogger Janice D’Arcy interviewed the study’s lead researcher and reports:
Providers told researchers that they felt pressure from parents to keep children from vigorous play that might lead to injury and also pressure to focus instead on academics.
The third consistent barrier was financial, as some providers said their funds were too limited to purchase up-to-code safe, outdoor equipment. (An ironic twist in this finding is that providers told researchers repeatedly that these “safer” playgrounds were oftentimes the least interesting to children.)
“We were surprised to hear that parents — both low-income and upper-income — were focusing on traditional ‘academics’ (letters, numbers, colors) instead of outdoor play, even for children as young as 3 years old,” lead author Kristen Copeland of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center wrote to me in an e-mail conversation about the report.
“At this age, many children don’t know how to skip, and are still learning how to share, and how to negotiate peer relationships. Yet teachers told us that many parents wanted to know what their child ‘learned’ that day, but were not interested in whether they had gone outside, or had mastered fundamental gross motor skills,” she said.
Interestingly, the study is released at the same time as other research that showed physical fitness to be directly related to improved academic performance, a finding that should
Richard Rende, Parents.com’s child psychology blogger, offered the following advice to parents who want to avoid sedentary habits in their children: “If you want to promote the optimal development and health of your toddler, make sure they have plenty of time for free play and physical activity. Convince yourself that this will be as important – if not more so – than the ‘academics’ they are learning during the preschool years. And do what you can to make sure they get it.”
Image: Preschool girl reading, via Shutterstock.
Monday, June 27th, 2011
The Egalia preschool in the Swedish city of Stockholm is attempting to defy gender stereotyping by keeping all gender-specific references–including the pronouns “his” and “hers–out of the classroom. According to an article from KIAH news, children are referred to as “friends,” rather than by gender-specific pronouns. Construction toys are placed next to toy kitchens to discouraged gendered play, and classroom books feature homosexual couples, single parents, and adopted children. From KIAH:
There are no Snow White, Cinderella or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes. [School director Lotta] Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.
“A concrete example could be when they’re playing ‘house’ and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble,” she says. “Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on.”
Do you think preschools are where gender stereotypes start? Would you send your child to a school like Egalia?