Why Kindergarten in Finland Is All About Playtime (and Why That Could Be More Stimulating Than the Common Core) – The Atlantic

In the US, Common Core standards routinely rob the youngest students of time that used to be reserved for play. Despite findings that early literacy has little long term benefit, reading is being taught in American schools starting in kindergarten. In Finland? Not so much.

Just before lunch, a kindergarten teacher took out a basket brimming with children’s books. But for these 5- and 6-year-olds, “reading” looked just like how my two toddlers approach their books: The kindergartners, sitting in different corners of the room, flipped through pages, savoring the pictures but, for the most part, not actually deciphering the words. Osei Ntiamoah told me that just one of the 15 students in her class can currently read syllable by syllable. Many of them, she added, will read by the end of the year. “We don’t push them but they learn just because they are ready for it. If the child is willing and interested, we will help the child.”

Source: Why Kindergarten in Finland Is All About Playtime (and Why That Could Be More Stimulating Than the Common Core) – The Atlantic

When Schools Overlook Introverts: Why Quiet Time is Important for the Learning Process – The Atlantic

The ever growing trend in the educational world of favoring student collaboration and dynamic learning activities over independent study may come at a cost to introverted students.

From the arrangement of the classroom to the volume of the resulting environment, social learning activities don’t bring out the best performance in every kid.

Near the end of my observations last week, I told two teachers on separate occasions that I’d feel incredibly exhausted at the end of every day if I were a student at that school. To my surprise, both of them responded by immediately laughing and then agreeing. One recalled learning best when arranged in rows, while the other concurred, “I know, right? How exhausting it must be to have another student in your business all day long.”

 

Read the full article: When Schools Overlook Introverts: Why Quiet Time is Important for the Learning Process – The Atlantic

Are tablet computers harming our children’s ability to read? | Technology | The Guardian

The adoption of the tablet has come on fast and furious. In the 5 years since Apple first launched the iPad, the number of children who have access to tablets has jumped from 7% of 5-15 year olds to 71%.

Some educators worry the technology is negatively affecting kids’ ability to read.

“You don’t get that opportunity to just sit and immerse yourself in a story from beginning to end. That’s brilliant for concentration, and, importantly, it creates a context for the idea of narrative. The amount of concentration required on any digital device is very short,” she says.

“So, reading for pleasure is not being supported by our educational curriculum, and there’s the prevalence of these new toys-slash-tools [tablets]. And they conspire to create very short attention spans, and children who want instant gratification.”

“If they’re not getting that instant gratification from the book they’re reading, they can just play a game instead. So what happens to the story? I worry about a generation of children who don’t want to know what the end of the story is, because that’s how we make sense of the world.”

Read the full article: Are tablet computers harming our children’s ability to read? | Technology | The Guardian

Why Teen-Agers Are the Worst – The New Yorker

 

Why are teens, in some ways, more difficult to parent than toddlers? Science may have some answers.

The frontal lobes are the seat of what’s sometimes called the brain’s executive function. They’re responsible for planning, for self-awareness, and for judgment. Optimally, they act as a check on impulses originating in other parts of the brain. But in the teen years, Jensen points out, the brain is still busy building links between its different regions. This process involves adding myelin around the axons, which conduct electrical impulses. (Myelin insulates the axons, allowing impulses to travel faster.) It turns out that the links are built starting in the back of the brain, and the frontal lobes are one of the last regions to get connected. They are not fully myelinated until people are in their twenties, or even thirties.

This is where parents step in. “You need to be your teens’ frontal lobes until their brains are fully wired,” Jensen writes. By this she seems to mean near-constant hectoring.

 

Read the full article: Why Teen-Agers Are the Worst – The New Yorker

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains – The New York Times

While we don’t really need more convincing that curling up with a book is one of the best things we can do with our kids, knowing that it can have long term effects on their brain is a nice bonus.

Children whose parents reported more reading at home and more books in the home showed significantly greater activation of brain areas in a region of the left hemisphere called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This brain area is “a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” said the lead author, Dr. John S. Hutton, a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

This region of the brain is known to be very active when older children read to themselves, but Dr. Hutton notes that it also lights up when younger children are hearing stories. What was especially novel was that children who were exposed to more books and home reading showed significantly more activity in the areas of the brain that process visual association, even though the child was in the scanner just listening to a story and could not see any pictures.

“When kids are hearing stories, they’re imagining in their mind’s eye when they hear the story,” said Dr. Hutton. “For example, ‘The frog jumped over the log.’ I’ve seen a frog before, I’ve seen a log before, what does that look like?”

The different levels of brain activation, he said, suggest that children who have more practice in developing those visual images, as they look at picture books and listen to stories, may develop skills that will help them make images and stories out of words later on.

Read the full article: Bedtime Stories for Young Brains – The New York Times

Read this before posting photos of your kids on Facebook – MarketWatch

According to a recent survey, the average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he or she turns five. Technology has turned every second into an opportunity to capture a moment that can be shared with the world with a few taps. The jury is still out on how growing up on the internet will affect a generation of people, but it’s changing how we parent in real time.

This culture of taking and sharing family photographs can be wonderful fun and intimate, but when done excessively can also backfire and put more distance between parents and kids, experts say, rather than bring them closer together. One 11-year-old boy told Steiner-Adair, “I hate it when my dad comes to watch me play hockey and all he does is videotape me playing and then when it’s over he wants to show me all the things that I did wrong. Isn’t that what a coach is for?” Steiner-Adair asked, “What do you want him to do?” The child replied, “Like, cheering or moaning.” The child didn’t mind if his father gave him positive or negative feedback after-the-fact, as long as he was engaged in the game in real time. Steiner-Adair says children notice when they’re being photographed: “It puts a barrier between you and them.”

 

Read the full article at MarketWatch: Read this before posting photos of your kids on Facebook – MarketWatch

Harvard’s ‘Project Zero’ Wants More of America’s Preschools to Look Like Those in Reggio Emilia—Treating Children as Citizens – The Atlantic

There have been plenty of initiatives to promote civic engagement among the teenage set. Harvard’s Project Zero program “Children Are Citizens” is bringing that same idea to preschool.

Qualitative evidence shows that children have the capacity to debate ideas, and to work together to solve problems that arise in the classroom (how many kids can play in the block area at a time, for example) and outside of it (how to improve a city park). What if young children had more opportunities to offer the general public some civics lessons of their own?

 

Read the full article at The Atlantic: Harvard’s ‘Project Zero’ Wants More of America’s Preschools to Look Like Those in Reggio Emilia—Treating Children as Citizens – The Atlantic

Today’s Exhausted Superkids – The New York Times

In today’s opinion piece for the New York Times, Frank Bruni addresses the plight of sleep-deprived, over-stressed teens. Teens who, for better or for worse are being pushed to keep up with high-achieving peers.

Sleep deprivation is just a part of the craziness, but it’s a perfect shorthand for childhoods bereft of spontaneity, stripped of real play and haunted by the “pressure of perfection,” to quote the headline on a story by Julie Scelfoin The Times this week.

Scelfo wrote about six suicides in a 13-month period at the University of Pennsylvania; about the prevalence of anxiety and depression on college campuses; about many star students’ inability to cope with even minor setbacks, which are foreign and impermissible.

On one hand, yes. Surely there is a point where it just becomes too much. Especially considering our idea of what it means to succeed may be in need of an overhaul. But as many commenters have pointed out, where do the kids who have work not only to achieve, but to afford college fit in?

Read the article and the comments on The New York Times: Today’s Exhausted Superkids – The New York Times

Are you holding your own daughter back? Here are 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders. – The Washington Post

As the parent of a little girl, I can say for certain that raising her to be a strong leader is an everyday consideration. Yet in reviewing the research of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common project, it’s apparent that gender bias makes that an uphill battle.

The research found that 23 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys preferred male political leaders instead of female, while only 8 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys preferred female political leaders. Similarly, 36 percent of boys preferred male business leaders to female. (There was no significant difference between girls’ preference for male versus female business leaders.)

On the school-age level, students were least likely to support granting more power to student councils if white girls were in charge and most likely when white boys were.

That’s right. Even mothers and girls were more likely to favor giving power to student councils led by boys rather than by girls. Weissbourd’s report cited a 2013 Gallup poll found that 35 percent of all respondents would prefer to have a male boss while only 23 percent of respondents would prefer to have a female boss. The preference for male bosses was even stronger among female respondents.

So how can we do better? Richard Weissbourd, the Harvard psychologist who runs the Making Caring Common project offers 5 ways to prevent gender bias.

Read them at The Washington Post: Are you holding your own daughter back? Here are 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders. – The Washington Post

Our obsession with safety is harming our kids – Salon.com

In this age of parenting, it seems one of our main objectives is “keeping our kids safe.” But safe from what? Is the fear that guides our need to hover even logical? And what sort of people will result?

Julie Lythcott-Haims has met this kind of person, thousands of times in fact, in her job as Dean of Freshman at Stanford University. After seeing her book How To Raise an Adult and hearing her TED talk, I called Lythcott-Haims to talk about what happens to these overprotected kids when they try to leave the nest. As it happens, many of them have a difficult time adjusting.

The first-year students she worked with were “very accomplished in a transcript and résumé sense” but stymied by the challenges of everyday life. “They can’t do their own laundry,” or manage typical roommate problems, or even register for their own courses—a task many outsource to their parents. “It feels very loving and it’s certainly helpful,” Lythcott-Haims says, “but that kid ends up really ill-equipped to navigate life’s imperfect bureaucracies.”

 

Read the article at Salon: Our obsession with safety is harming our kids – Salon.com