From this week’s news:
- ‘Kids Count’ Report Paints Mixed Picture of Child Well-Being Nationwide
Ed Week Early Years Blog: Children have seen improvement on measures of health and education nationally over the past five years, but indicators in economic well-being and “family and community” are still lagging, according to the annual Kids Count Data Book, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- Teens’ overall substance use declining, but marijuana use rising
Science Daily: Marijuana use in teenagers is on the rise, while cigarette and alcohol use are stable or declining, according to health statistics published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. In particular, black teens are using more marijuana than in recent decades.
- Working Brain Science into Parents’ Daily Routine
Ed Week Early Years Blog: A new initiative from the Bezos Family Foundation seeks to make early learning part of everyday life for parents. The main idea behind the initiative, which is called Vroom, is to get information to parents about specific things they can do with their young children to prepare them for school. The foundation worked with developmental scientists to develop 750 activities parents can do with their children from infancy to age 5 and loaded them into a smartphone app.
- Standing desks at schools: The solution to the childhood obesity epidemic?
The Washington Post: The interest in getting standing desks in schools has its roots in the growing obesity epidemic in the United States and other wealthy countries. The idea is to get school children — who can spend an incredible 65 to 70% of their waking hours sitting — moving more during the day. The latest study on the subject, published in the Journal of Public Health, looked at classrooms using standing desks in Britain and Australia. In both cases, they found that the amount of sitting time dropped dramatically, even outside of the school day.
From this week’s news:
- Student Fights, Fear of Harm at School Have Declined, Newest Federal Data Show
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: Fewer high school students reported being in physical fights on school grounds, fewer teens reported victimization at school, and fewer students reported carrying weapons at school, according to various federal data sources included in the annual Indicators of School Crime and Safety report, produced by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- Many Overweight or Obese Teens Don’t See the Problem
US News & World Report: Many overweight and obese teens don’t believe they have a weight problem, a new study published in in the International Journal of Obesity finds. Seventy-three percent of teens 13 and 15 years of age had a weight within the normal range, 20 percent were overweight and 7 percent were obese. However, about 40 percent of those who were overweight or obese said they were about the right weight, and 0.4 percent said they were too light.
- Kids’ brain responses to food depend on their body composition
Science Daily: Research using brain imaging technology has revealed a brain response pattern in children that might represent a step along the path to childhood obesity. The study, conducted by a graduate student in Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, scanned children’s brain activity while they viewed pictures of high- and low-calorie foods, and found that both lean body mass and body fat are linked to how kids’ brains respond to food.
From this week’s news:
- Estimates of childhood, youth exposure to violence, crime and abuse
Medical News Today: More than a third of children and teens 17 and younger experienced a physical assault in the last year, primarily at the hands of siblings and peers, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics. See related article: Reuters “Nearly four of 10 U.S. kids exposed to violence.”
- Kids from High-Conflict Homes More Vigilant toward Emotional Cues
Psych Central: Children of parents who argue frequently tend to be more watchful of other people’s emotional states and also appear to process emotions differently than children from low-conflict homes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
- Antipsychotics Too Often Prescribed for Aggression in Children
NPR Health Shots: Powerful antipsychotic medications are being used to treat children and teenagers with ADHD, aggression and behavior problems, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found, even though safer treatments are available and should be used first.
- Benefits of Sports to a Child’s Mind and Heart All Part of the Game
NPR Health Shots: The majority of parents in NPR’s recent poll on the role of sports and health in America seem to agree. Parents think that the organized way you participate in sports — the leadership and fellowship — is actually preparing people not only for the next game but for much broader roles in life. Andy Driska, a Michigan State University researcher with the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, says parents are right when they cite life skills — like discipline, commitment and physical confidence — that can develop naturally when kids play sports.
- Extracurricular Sports May Give Kids’ Academics a Boost
HealthDay: Extracurricular sports may help children develop the discipline they need to succeed in the classroom, a new study published in in the American Journal of Health Promotion suggests. After taking other factors into consideration, such as the kids’ level of physical fitness, thinking abilities, mother’s education and family communication at home, the researchers found children involved in sports when they were in kindergarten were likely to be involved in team sports at 10 and also had higher self-control scores by fourth-grade.
From this week’s news:
- Life stress negatively affects poor children’s cognitive development
United Press International: Low-income children exposed to unstable family environments or insensitive caregiving at age of 2 are at increased risk of cognitive delays by age 4, a new study published in the journal Child Development found. While the specific biological or environmental reasons for this are not known, differences in cortisol levels in children in the study at age 2 predicted their cortisol levels as well as cognitive delays at 4.
- Reading, Writing, Required Silence: How Meditation Is Changing Schools and Students
The Huffington Post: In the last seven years Quiet Time, a school-based meditation program, has expanded, and now appears in 18 schools across the country. Through twice-a-day meditation, practitioners believe everyone can access an intensely deep rest that allows the body to repair itself and release deeply rooted stress and tension that sleep never gets rid of. Because the Quiet Time program is relatively new, data on its impact on kids is limited, but early studies point to better grades, fewer suspensions and reports of better mental health among student meditators.