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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
If your child is unmotivated to learn despite having an enthusiastic teacher or nurturing parents who encourage school success, there may be another factor to consider.
New research from Ohio State University suggests that a child’s willingness to learn can be inherited through genetics. The study collected data from more than 13,000 sets of fraternal and identical twins, ages 9 to 16, across six countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and Japan).
The twins were asked how much they enjoyed various academic activities (like reading, writing, and spelling), and how they rated their ability in different academic subjects. The collected information was then analyzed to see how closely each twin’s answers matched, and to compare the answers of fraternal twins with identical twins (who shared more common genes).
“On average, 40 to 50 percent of the difference between twins in motivation could be explained by genetics,” reports Science Daily. “About the same percentage could be explained by what is called the twins’ nonshared environment – for example, differential parenting or a teacher that one twin has but not the other.”
The most unexpected finding was that only about 3 percent of the differences could be linked to the siblings’ shared environment, or common family experiences.
However, this research doesn’t mean that it’s time to screen for a “motivation for learning” gene, or that you should be less conscious of your child’s education. Another recent study even believes that kids raised in nurturing home environments are likely to be more intelligent. “We should absolutely encourage students and motivate them in the classroom. But these findings suggest the mechanisms for how we do that may be more complicated than we had previously thought,” says Stephen Petrill, co-author of the Ohio State University study.
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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
Image: Discouraged boy via Shutterstock
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Education, genes, genetics, learning, motivation, new research, new study, school, school learning, unmotivated kids | Categories:
Education, New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Can birth weight affect your child’s future academic performance? A new large-scale study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University says yes.
According to a news release:
The research suggests that babies who weigh more at birth have higher test scores from third through eighth grade. The relationship is apparent even among twins; heavier-born twins have higher average test scores in third through eighth grade than their lighter-born twin.
Even the advantage of attending a higher quality school was not enough to compensate for the disadvantage of a lower birth rate, according to the study. The low birth-rate advantage held up across the board for all children — regardless of race, socioeconomic status, enrichment experiences provided by parents, maternal education and a host of other factors.
Researchers merged birth data and school records of all children born in Florida between 1992 and 2002 — that’s more than 1.3 million kids — to reach these conclusions. However, in an article in The New York Times, study co-author David N. Figlio said this is most likely the first of many more studies that will be conducted on this subject, mentioning that weight may just be “a proxy for other aspects of fetal health that more time in the womb would not improve.”
It’s also important to note that babies born at a higher birth weight can also often be, depending on their weight, at an increased risk for a number of other health complications. And birth weight is definitely not the end all, be all for your child’s success in school—take a look at these 15 ways you can boost your child’s success in school.
Photo of little girl courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
As 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.
Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.
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American Academy of Pediatrics, high school, homework, middle school, new research, research, school, sleep, teen drivers, teenagers, teens | Categories:
New Research, Parents News Now
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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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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