Posts filed under ‘Research’

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

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

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

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

Self-Control and the Link to Academic Success

Marshmallow TestAs parents, we want to do whatever we can to help our children succeed academically, and more importantly, in life.  In fact, there is one teachable skill that is a better predictor of academic performance than IQ.  That skill is self control, and specifically, the ability to redirect attention in order to delay gratification.  In a nut-shell: raw smarts matter, but so do preparation and focus.  Consider the kids who study on the night before a test rather than playing video games.

You may have heard of the “marshmallow test” that laid the foundation for research on delayed gratification.  Dr. Walter Mischel studied four year-olds at Stanford University (more…)

June 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm 2 comments

Pre-K Child Care Affects IQ, Impulsiveness of Teenagers

Working Mom with ToddlerGood news (for the most part) for working moms:  teenagers who had higher quality child care performed significantly better in cognitive tests and had fewer adolescent behavioral problems than those given low-quality or no care outside the home.

Research published in May 2010 by Deborah Lowe Vandell, professor at UC Irvine followed 1,000 children from their births in 1991 to age 15 to identify the effects of childcare outside the home.  Surprisingly, the childcare received in the critical birth-to-kindergarten years continued to show effects over 10 years later.  Those receiving higher quality care scored 5.3 points higher (100 points is average) on cognitive tests.   They also had fewer problems “acting out” as teens.  Previously released research had concluded that the positive academic effects were apparent for these children in fifth grade. (more…)

May 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Morality: A Matter of Nature and Nurture

Nature and NurtureIn a New York Times magazine feature in May 2010, Yale professor Paul Bloom describes the research on the moral instincts of babies being conducted by his research team at the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University.  The researchers found that the significant majority of babies as young as 5 months old prefer good (helpful) characters over bad (hindering) ones, moreover babies at 8 months show preference for characters that act justly by either rewarding a good guy, or punishing a bad actor.

However, that is not to say that babies have “moral” preferences in all cases.   (more…)

May 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment


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