Fast Track to Literacy for Little Ones

Children who are read one short book per day enter kindergarten hearing 290,000 more words than kids whose parents didn’t read to them, according to a new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. If you increase the number of books to five per day, that vocabulary increases to 1.4 million words! Not only will it jump-start your child’s education, it’s also a memorable bonding activity!

“The word gap of 1 million words between children raised in a literacy-rich environment and those that were never read to is striking,” says Jessica Logan, lead author of the study. “Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be more prepared to see those words in print when they enter school. They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily.”

Researchers found that children’s books are a great method of teaching vocabulary because they introduce words that are unlikely to come up in everyday conversation.

Source: Mental Floss/Emily Ptesko

Parenting Lessons From Our Children: Their View

When Author Dr. Swati Lodha interviewed over 200 children aged eight to 18 for her book, she set out to learn what children want parents to know after hearing her own daughter say she “could write a book about what my mother does wrong.” In her research, four key things were prevalent. Children want you to know that:

  • Disagreement is not the same thing as disrespect. The children surveyed believe that any deviation from rules or even preferences is seen as being disrespectful.
  • Children don’t need to be told they’re the best. They want to be viewed more realistically and seen for who they really are.
  • Children get feedback all the time; parents could get some too. Parents, siblings, teachers and authority figures freely volunteer their opinions about how a young person is doing. The children interviewed expressed that they would like to be asked for feedback.
  • Mothers and fathers shouldn’t get so fixated on results. The children said that they felt pressured by their parents’ emphasis on grades, prizes, medals, game scores and school admittances – especially when it’s in a sport, a subject of interest the child pursued at the parent’s request, not their own interest. They would like their intentions and efforts to be noticed and valued, even when the outcomes aren’t noteworthy.

Source: blog.ted.ed

Screen Use Could Alter Developing Brains

Too much time online might increase mental health issues in children, according to a study published recently by the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. Children’s screen use could be altering their developing brains as they enter adolescence and increase their risk for mood disorders.

Children ages 9 and 10 who spend more time on smartphones, tablets, video games and TV exhibited higher levels of depression and anxiety by the time they were 11 and 12, researchers found. However, the study did not link the same brain changes to heavy screen use and behavior problems like bullying, aggression or defiance. The observed brain changes involved regions of the brain involved in higher-level processes like attention or emotional regulation, as well as regions related to a person’s urges.

The study will continue to track the same children as they age and later reports are expected to provide even more insight. “I don’t think most of the public realizes how important the puberty years are for brain development,” says Mitch Prinstein, chief science officer for the American Psychological Association. “We all know that infants have their brains developing in really important ways, but we might not remember that brain development around the ages of 12 to 16 is also an incredibly sensitive time.”

He recommends parents set a hard-and-fast 9 p.m. deadline for stopping screen use. “Sleep is incredibly important for brain development,” he says. “The number one reason kids are not getting the sleep that’s recommended is because of the screens.”

Source: Health Day

Keeping an Eye on Sleep at Every Age

As children become teens, it gets harder to monitor how much time they actually spend asleep. New research shows we need to keep an eye on our children’s sleep at every age. Parents can shape sleep behavior in the growing years as some research suggests that sleep habits are formed early in life.

During the first year of life, babies sleep most of the day. As children grow older, they need fewer hours of sleep. Preschoolers need 10 to 12 hours, school-age need at least nine, while teens need eight to nine. However, the importance of sleep does not fade with age.

“Healthy and sufficient sleep helps us wake up refreshed, form memories, control our emotions and learn. Inadequate sleep affects how well kids do in school. It also impacts a child’s physical overall well-being,” says Dr. Sally Ibrahim, director of Cleveland’s University Hospital Rainbow Pediatric Sleep Center. “The body releases hormones during sleep that aid growth, build muscles and repair cells and tissues.

Without proper sleep, children have higher health risks such as mental functioning, obesity and high-risk behaviors.

Even though your child may be a teen, you should still be involved in their sleep schedules to support adequate sleep. Some key signs your teen isn’t getting enough include changes in mood (irritability), motivation and concentration. Making up sleep on the weekends does not adequately address the lack of sleep during the school week.

Source: University Hospitals/The Science of Health