Video Slideshow: 5 Strategies to Raise Moral, Kind Children

Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist at the Harvard graduate school of education, and the Making Caring Common Project summarize recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible people.

View on The Washington Post

 

March 13, 2015 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

Naps are Key to Positive Engagement in Toddlers

Sleeping ToddlerA 2012 study from the University of Colorado Boulder confirms what most parents of two to three year-old toddlers instinctively know: missing a daytime nap results in “crankier” kids.   The study showed that, “toddlers between 2 and a half and 3 years old who miss only a single daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study.”

The facial expressions of children in the study were videotaped an hour after taking their regular nap, and on a different day after having missed their nap time.

(more…)

January 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

Rhyme is Critical for Early Literacy

Mary's LambA recent guest post on “An Amazing Child” blog does an excellent job summarizing the benefits to incorporating nursery rhymes in the regular reading material for young children.   The author references research indicating that children’s vocabularies are shrinking in the US, and the gradual disappearance of nursery rhymes in their daily lives may be to blame.

The benefits of rhymes listed by the author include:

  • auditory discrimination
  • listening skills
  • a rich range of language
  • concentration skills
  • oral storytelling / poetry skills

Read the full article

Other Resources:

Rhymers Are Readers: The Importance of Nursery Rhymes – KBYU Eleven

June 5, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

The Most Important Trait For Caregivers

For updates on early childhood research and new articles, follow me on Twitter @whizbits

Father Son TalkingWhen our first son was just a few months old, our PEPS parents group had an early childhood speech development expert as a guest speaker.  She provided the following simple advice: the most important thing to look for in prospective caregivers for your baby is that they are talkative.  Basically, find a chatty nanny or daycare provider.

For some time now, researchers have found that children of more talkative mothers have larger vocabularies than children of quieter moms (studies at the University of Chicago showed as much as a 400% difference among two year olds).  (more…)

November 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm 1 comment

The Benefits of Family Meal Time

Family MealBeing a parent of an infant or toddler is a wonderful, and yet at times, exhausting role.  It’s tempting to get food prepared for the kids, and worry about yourself later, particularly if you have a picky eater.  However, research shows that families who share most mealtimes together raise kids who are healthier – both physically and emotionally – and who do better in school.   As soon as your baby is eating solid foods, it’s a good idea instill the habit of eating together as a family, particularly given the vocabulary advantages for preschoolers who eat with their parents and siblings.

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October 13, 2010 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

Debunking Myths About Learning and Study Habits

Woman Helping Boy With SchoolworkIn the recent New York Times article, Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits, author Benedict Carey recaps a number of best practices for learning retention that contradict conventional wisdom.  Many of us would assume that focusing on a single concept in a consistent, dedicated study location would promote learning.  Quite the contrary: one of the common themes of Carey’s article is that variety matters.  Our brains develop stronger connections with the learning material when provided with diverse associations.   Interestingly, the research applies equally for younger learners as well as adults.

Variety of Locations: (more…)

September 13, 2010 at 9:25 pm 1 comment

Early Music Training Permanently Enhances The Brain

Follow me on Twitter here: @whizbits

Piano Teacher with ChildOver the past decade, researchers around the world have uncovered compelling evidence that formal music training, particularly for very young children, permanently improves cognitive capabilities and increases IQ scores.  In 2006,  researchers at McMaster University in Canada studied 4 to 6 year-olds who participated in musical training using the Suzuki method over the course of a year.  According to the BBC, those with training “performed better [than the control group] on a memory test also designed to assess general intelligence skills such as literacy and maths ability.” Lead researcher Professor Laurel Trainor said, “It suggests that musical training is having an effect on how the brain gets wired (more…)

July 27, 2010 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

Playing in the Dirt: A Boost for Your Child’s Immune System

The following article was originally published in the PEPS July 2010 Newsletter

Playing in the DirtThe sun is (finally) out, and the kids can’t wait to get outside!  Young children love to dig in the dirt, play with shovels and pails, and particularly when paired with summer water toys, frequently start to resemble Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-Pen.  Like many moms, I wince when my toddler takes a break from his garden play and proceeds to grab some snack and shove it in his mouth, filthy hands and all.

But it turns out that a series of studies suggest that kids benefit from dirt – or more specifically (and frankly disgustingly), the bacteria, viruses, and worms – yes worms! – that live in less-than-sterile environments.   (more…)

July 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm 1 comment

Improving Balance and Motor Skills Through Motion

Mom Spinning DaughterOne of the more unusual research findings that I’ve come across relates to the sensitive period for the vestibular system which regulates our perception of our balance and motion.   According to at least one study, spinning infants (thereby stimulating the vestibular system) may help improve their sense of balance and coordination many months and potentially years later.

If you read our post on baby brain development, you’ll recall that various areas in a child’s brain have sensitive periods during which they undergo tremendous growth.   The vestibular senses emerge quite early in the womb and develop through infancy, with peak sensitivity between (more…)

June 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm 1 comment

Praising a Child as “Smart” Can Be Detrimental

Smart Girl With BooksWe’ve been told for years that praising our children is a good thing; that it builds self-esteem and confidence.  It’s almost instinctual to applaud a child as smart when they do something clever.  My four year-old just recited the fifty states in alphabetical order (thanks to his nanny’s fondness for the Fifty Nifty United States song) and then proceeded to identify more states than I can on his map puzzle.  So I had to bite my tongue not to say “you’re so smart!” or “your memory is amazing!”  I’m fighting my ingrained habits of praise because a growing body of research is showing that complementing innate talents such as intellect or athletic ability can have a number of negative consequences. (more…)

June 16, 2010 at 9:28 pm Leave a comment

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