Posts Tagged ‘ school ’

The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Later School Start Times for Teens

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Pediatricians Recommends Later School Start Times for TeensAs teenagers across the country head back to school, many are starting what will be yet another year of little sleep. But consider this: A consistent lack of shuteye can be much more serious than feeling fatigued in biology.

Studies show sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for things like car accidents and can lead to poor academic performance and ill health. Citing this topic as an “important public health issue,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation that middle schools and high schools start classes at or after 8:30 a.m. to allow students the chance to get more sleep regularly.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in an AAP press release.

The AAP states that the optimal amount of sleep time for teens is between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours per night. But as students get older and responsibilities pile up, a mix of homework, extracurricular activities, and after-school jobs leads to even later nights, which can make it very difficult to meet the sleep goal.

The possibility of making this policy change in schools across the nation is also tough. School districts struggle with financial and logistical challenges that include providing school busing services for elementary, middle, and high schools. It can be difficult for enough buses to shuttle kids to all of the schools in one time frame, which can also strain school district budgets. Ultimately, “the issue is really cost,” Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told the AP.

Does your child’s lack of sleep affect her performance at school? Take a look at these tips to boost her school success.

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

Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Swedish Town Considers Homework Ban, Longer School Day

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Swedish town of Hallstahammars is reportedly considering a school-sanctioned ban on homework, in an attempt to encourage students to learn efficiently, which means minimizing the stress that can come with an unmanageable homework load.  More from ABC News:

Leena Millberg, the head of schools in Hallstahammars, said officials for the municipal government are still investigating if the proposal to ban homework makes sense. However, the students of Hallstahammars shouldn’t jump for joy just yet. Millberg said if the proposal does go through it’s likely that the school day would be lengthened.

“When children learn to read, for example … we often give them homework to train,” Millberg told ABC News. “If we want to do that in the school day, we may need to make the school day a bit longer.”

The debate is not unique to the town hall of Hallstahammars, according to education experts.

Arguments for and against homework have raged on and off for decades according to Harris Cooper, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, who has researched how homework impacts families.

“It comes in waves,” said Cooper. “Generally it comes into public consciousness, giving kids too much or too little, depending on broader societal [news].”

Cooper said when a country’s reading or math comprehension is ranked lower than expected it can lead officials to want to ramp up homework. However, when studies show children are overworked or stressed, Cooper said officials will look at pulling back on assignments. In 2012, French President Francoise Hollande proposed banning homework in the country, though that proposal did not go through.

Cooper said he did not know of a country or region that has fully banned homework from schools. “Homework has been with us for a century,” said Cooper.

Image: Girl doing homework, via Shutterstock

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‘Cool Kids’ May Be Less Likely to Succeed

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Kids who are popular and “cool” in middle school do not necessarily achieve as much success by age 23 as their less popular peers, according to a new study published in the journal Child Development.  More from CNN on what researchers call the “revenge of the nerds” effect:

Remember the kids who tried so hard to be cool — the ones who had boyfriends or girlfriends before everyone else, started partying earlier than most other kids their age and made a point of moving with the physically attractive crowd? Well, coolness at 13 does not translate into success by age 23, according to the study by researchers at the University of Virginia published in the journal Child Development.

Those cool kids were more likely to have bigger troubles later in life, according to research released Thursday, which was conducted over a 10-year span. As young adults, they were using 40% more drugs and alcohol than the “not so cool” kids and were 22% more likely to be running into troubles with the law.

When their social competence as adults was quantified (which included how well they got along with friends, acquaintances and romantic partners), the teens considered cool in middle school received ratings that were 24% lower than their less cool peers.

“Long term, we call it the high school reunion effect,” said Joseph Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, who led the study.

“You see the person who was cool … did exciting things that were intimidating and seemed glamorous at the time and then five or 10 years later, they are working in a menial job and have poor relationships and such, and the other kid who was quiet and had good friends but didn’t really attract much attention and was a little intimidated is doing great.”

“It’s … revenge of the quiet, good kids,” he added.

Image: Cool kids, via Shutterstock

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Colorful Kindergarten Classrooms: Distracting for Kids?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

A new study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University is looking at whether highly decorated kindergarten classrooms–adorned with colorful art, posters, and borders featuring things like dancing letters and numbers–are distracting to kids during that important first year in school.  While the study wasn’t conclusive, it did indicate that some kids’ gazes and attention are drawn away from classroom activities by the decorations.  More from the New York Times:

The study, one of the first to examine how the look of these walls affects young students, found that when kindergartners were taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted, their gazes more likely to wander off task, and their test scores lower than when they were taught in a room that was comparatively spartan.

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University, did not conclude that kindergartners, who spend most of the day in one room, should be taught in an austere environment. But they urged educators to establish standards.

“So many things affect academic outcomes that are not under our control,” said Anna V. Fisher, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon and the lead author of the study, which was published in Psychological Science. “But the classroom’s visual environment is under the direct control of the teachers. They’re trying their best in the absence of empirically validated guidelines.”

In the early years of school, children must learn to direct their attention and concentrate on a task. As they grow older, their focus improves. Sixth graders, for example, can tune out extraneous stimuli far more readily than preschoolers, the study’s authors noted.

But could information-dense kindergarten classroom walls, intended to inspire children, instead be overwhelming? Could all that elaborate décor impede learning? Some experts think so.

“I want to throw myself over those scalloped borders and cute cartoon stuff and scream to teachers, ‘Don’t buy this, it’s visually damaging for children!’ ” said Patricia Tarr, an associate professor at the University of Calgary who researches early childhood education and art education. She was not involved in the study.

Image: Colorful classroom, via Shutterstock

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12th Graders Continue to Lag in Reading, Math

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, an assessment that’s also called “the nation’s report card,” shows disappointing trends in the performance of American 12th graders in both math and reading skill levels.  NPR has more:

It measured reading and math skills of 92,000 high school seniors in 2013 and found that reading skills of those 12th-graders have gone unchanged since the last time the test was given, in 2009, and they’re lower than those of students in 1992.

Things aren’t much better when it comes to math. While scores were slightly better than in 2005, they too have been stagnant since 2009.

Those results are unacceptable, said David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees testing policy.

“Achievement at this very critical point in a student’s life must be improved to ensure success after high school,” he said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the news troubling, particularly as high school graduation rates have reached an all-time high.

“We must reject educational stagnation in our high schools, and as a nation, we must do better for all students, especially for African-American and Latino students,” he said.

In the NAEP test, achievement is broken down into three levels: basic, proficient and advanced. “Basic” indicates partial mastery of the subject, “proficient” is grade-level performance, and “advanced” indicates superior work.

Seventy-four percent of students scored below the grade-appropriate level in math, compared with 26 percent of students who scored at or above grade level. Asian students and students whose parents went to college achieved the best math scores. Math scores for African-American students were the worst.

In reading, just 38 percent of seniors scored at or above grade level. And one-quarter of high school seniors are reading below grade level.

But that flat performance wasn’t just among students who struggled with math and reading, officials said. It also extended to the highest-performing students.

The results released Wednesday also showed that the achievement gap between white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts remained stubbornly wide, despite more than a decade of federal efforts to close it.

Image: High school student, via Shutterstock

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