Roundup XIV

Science Daily reports that happy adolescents are likely to earn more money as adults, even allowing for other influences. The study (conducted by the University College of London) followed 15,000 Americans and found that, even in children growing up in the same family, happier teens went on to earn more money. One main reason, they found, was that happy people are more likely to complete their schooling, to get offered a job and to get promoted than their less happy peers (even peers of the same socio-economic background, location, health and IQ). Read more here.

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A study in Australia has found that children who are taught to swim at a very young age (2 to 5 years old), regardless of their socio-economic level, achieve physical milestones faster and exhibit significantly better fine motor, math skills and oral expression (Science Daily).

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I was interested to read about a study, conducted by researchers at Hofstra University and UC Davis, that found that children who are able to acknowledge and appreciate their good fortune are more likely to be happy and experience lower levels of depression, envy and materialism. Researcher Jeffrey Froh said, “a grateful child feels more connected and loved. After all, if he’s able to understand that many others care enough to make an effort for him, his life is improved.” Girls are thought to be somewhat more grateful in general than boys, and the belief is that understanding the concept of gratitude doesn’t usually kick in until age 10 or 11. Is it too late if your child seems less than appropriately grateful for all that they do have? Froh said that when encouraged by parents to be more conscious of life’s bounties, children can indeed become more grateful.

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Undergraduates who have taken many more classes than needed to earn a degree are dubbed “super seniors.”School officials at the California state schools are saying that the system can’t afford to let students linger without collecting their diplomas, and are debating charging high fees (almost triple the normal cost) to students who have completed five years of full-time undergraduate work. State schools in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and North Carolina have already done so. Fox News did a piece on the students recently, explaining that Cal State hopes the fees will improve grad rates in the CSU system, from which only 16 percent of freshmen graduate within four years and only 52 percent graduate within six years.

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If your child’s obsession with video games is driving you crazy, here is a small silver lining … High school and college students who are particularly skilled at video games recently went head-to-head with physicians in robotic surgery simulations and the results were presented at a global medical congress. It was found that high school and college students who played two-to-four hours of video games daily matched, and in some cases exceeded, the skills of the medical residents. The competition came about when the lead researcher, Dr. Sami Kilic, saw her son, an avid video game player, wow onlookers on a robotic surgery simulator at a medical convention.

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A 20-year study has found that being raised in a home with lots of books increases the level of education that a child will obtain, no matter if their parents are rich or poor, illiterate or college graduates. Mariah Evans, the lead researcher for the University of Nevada study, found that even having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit. Children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. The study is one of the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted on what influences the level of education a child will attain. Read more here.

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Research shows that children benefit greatly from full-day kindergarten. Studies show that full-day K boosts cognitive learning, creative problem-solving, social competence, gains on literacy and language measures, better attendance and higher achievement in the older grades. Currently 10 states require that school districts provide publicly funded full-day K. An additional 34 states require school districts to provide half-day kindergarten, and six states don’t require school districts to provide any kindergarten at all.

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There is an interesting free quarterly newsletter for parents of students with ADHD  at

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Because my children are all very different students, I have always been fascinated by learning styles. If your children (or you) have never taken a learning-style assessment, you might be interested in what you learn. There is a decent, free one available online at The different types are: visual-spatial, aural-auditory, verbal-linguistic, physical-bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, social-interpersonal and solitary-intrapersonal.

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Payscale, a salary website, recently ran a list of the fields of study (majors) in which students felt best about the impact they were making on the world around them. The results were: 1. nursing, 2. special education, 3. medical technology, 4. biomedical engineering, 5. athletic training, 6. social work, 7. child and family studies, 8. dietetics, 9. biblical studies and 10. health-care administration.

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If you are on Facebook, you can “like” your school and have regular access to all kinds of great news and photos. Virtually every school in our town now has a social media presence, whether it is Facebook or You Tube or Twitter.

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A study published in the summer 2012 issue of Education Next found that delaying the start time of school by one hour increased standardized test scores, with the largest increases for students with below-average test scores. Nationwide, some schools are beginning earlier than 7:30 a.m. and others after 9 a.m. Districts frequently stagger the start times of different schools in order to reduce transportation costs by using fewer buses. A Congressional resolution recommended that secondary schools nationwide start at 9 a.m. or later, but not many public schools have made changes.

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I recently came across a great listing of free summer programs for high school students. Some even provide travel to countries around the globe. Now is the time to act for top-notch summer programs, the best ones, and all the selective free ones have winter deadlines. Examples include a seven-week leadership program at Princeton University for low-income students and six weeks in India on a State Department program.

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California is bucking the national trend to eliminate the teaching of cursive in third grade. It is a divisive topic as some think it is a waste of instructional time (typing skills being more useful) while others think cursive helps to develop fine motor skills and helps students to develop their own unique stamp of identity. California is one of 45 states adopting the national “core curriculum” guidelines but the standards don’t include cursive handwriting and so California has added back in their own cursive requirement.

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Author Lisa Guernsey agonizes in her book “Screen Time” about how much screen time is right for children. Her research led her to focus on the three Cs: content, context, and your child. She suggests that parents be picky about the content of what their children see on-screen, and when choosing interactive titles, seek out those that put children in control. She suggests that you keep an eye on your child’s attitude and behavior before, during, and after they play their games or watch their shows, and to take time to talk about what they’ve seen, and to play some games together. And to accomplish that last C, figure which games and shows really interest your kids and what piques their curiosity and why. Seventy-two percent of iTunes’ top-selling “education” apps are designed for preschoolers and elementary school children, according to a recent report from the Sesame Workshop.

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Gooru is a new free search engine that is billed as tailored for learning. You can search for your favorite science, math or social sciences topic and browse millions of the best online learning resources, organized into thousands of curated collections. Teachers and students can use Gooru to search for rich collections of multimedia resources, digital textbooks, videos, 
games and quizzes created by educators. 
Gooru is free (of cost and ads) and developed by a nonprofit whose mission is “to honor the 
human right to education.” Go to

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Does your child have ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or another learning disability? Are you wondering if they are ready for college? There is a free online tool to help you decide, courtesy of Landmark College (which specializes in meeting the needs of students with learning issues). Go to:

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The website Pinterest is all the rage right now as its visual interface allows users to create, share, pin, re-pin, like, follow, search on a theme and share their interests. Educators are using it in the classroom as a tool to promote student participation in classes, showcasing student work, collaborating on coursework and suggesting reading and enrichment ideas. Go to:

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“What to Do When Bad Habits Take Hold,” is a very helpful book by psychologist Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. The book is aimed at helping kids ages 6 to 12 overcome hard-to-stop habits such as nail-biting, thumb-sucking, hair-twirling, scab-picking and shirt-chewing. Huebner offers five strategies and I recommend it for parents to us with your child. Perhaps not exactly what they were hoping for under the tree, but a long vacation is a good time to make progress on breaking a bad habit.

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Hispanic students now make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s public school enrollment and are the fastest-growing segment of the school population, but these students rarely see themselves in books written for young readers. Experts say the lack of familiar images and role-models could be an obstacle in engaging young Hispanic readers. The few books that are available from Hispanic writers are not finding their way into classrooms. Read more here.

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Parents of children with food allergies are always worried when their child eats any food not prepared in their own kitchens. UCLA Schools of Engineering and Applied Science has just developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. The attachment uses the cell phone’s built-in camera that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity as a laboratory. Weighing less than two ounces, the attachment performs an allergen-concentration test. It doesn’t sound ready for the marketplace yet but the invention will be welcome by the parents of the 8 percent of young children who suffer from severe food allergies. Read more here.

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In honor of the current exam period, here are some study tips for students (perhaps to tape inside their notebooks for future reference):

• Try studying for a few minutes right before falling sleep. During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories.

• A relatively new learning technique called “spaced repetition” involves breaking up information into small chunks and reviewing them consistently over a long period of time.

• Turning the details you need to remember into a crazy story helps make the information more meaningful. For example, remember the order of mathematic operations PEMDAS this way: Philip (P) wanted to eat (E) his friend Mary (M) but he died (D) from arsenic (AS) poisoning.

• Research suggests studying the same stuff in a different place every day makes us less likely to forget that information.

• Research suggests we store information more securely when we write it out by hand than when we type it.

• Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: seeing it and hearing it.

• Research has found just half an hour of aerobic exercise can improve our brain-processing speed and other important cognitive abilities.

• Relieve anxiety and tension by listening to classical music while studying.

• If a computer is necessary for studying, install an app that blocks the Internet for a short period of time.

• Research suggests meditation can reduce anxiety and boost attention span. There’s no harm in trying it out for a few minutes to calm pre-test jitters.

• Aim to get those seven to nine hours a night so sleep deprivation doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put in.

• Omega-3 fatty acids, found in certain fish, nuts, and olive oil, are known for their brain-boosting potential. Tips courtesy of USA Today.

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When you head to the store to buy books or videos for your children, keep in mind the great resource of Not to be confused with conservative censoring groups, Common Sense provides useful information on subject matter of popular movies, books and TV shows. It is particularly helpful when choosing books for students who read far above their grade level and might be wandering into the realm of inappropriate topics.

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3 responses

  1. When I originally left a comment I appear to have
    clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve four emails
    with the same comment. There has to be a means you can remove me from that service?

    Appreciate it!

    1. I found the exact place you fix this:

      But it needs to be done on your end, sorry.

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