Little Kids Need Cool Places to Explore, Not Classroom Time

Published by — Doesn’t anyone worry that pre-school can teach kids to hate school earlier? Early childhood education has become this year’s education-fix obsession.  From the President of the United States to the President of the Rhode Island Senate, we’re now pinning our hopes for improved academic achievement on more for schooling low-income, urbanContinue reading “Little Kids Need Cool Places to Explore, Not Classroom Time”

Restore Kindergarten to Boost Social Skills

Published by — What’s most fun for young kids is also what best prepares them for success.  So why are schools eliminating playtime? Picture wriggly, shrieky, busy 5-year-olds exploring the kindergarten play yard’s treasures.  The sandbox brims with budding builders, diggers, landscape designers.  Some kids need mostly to run and scream.  Others settle intoContinue reading “Restore Kindergarten to Boost Social Skills”

Refuel Kids’ Attention with Short Movement Breaks

Published by — It makes no sense to take dynamic young bodies and insist they sit still for hours at a stretch. In a technology class at the International Charter School (ICS) in Pawtucket, RI, second and third graders are learning to change fonts on their laptops.  They look droopy, so I ask how theyContinue reading “Refuel Kids’ Attention with Short Movement Breaks”

Beware Early Childhood ‘Education,’ Think Learning Instead

Published by — There are times when school gets in the way of learning. From the President of the United States to the President of the Rhode Island Senate, early-childhood education is shaping up to be one of this year’s ed obsessions. We’ve been here before, of course.  Head Start, a signature program from theContinue reading “Beware Early Childhood ‘Education,’ Think Learning Instead”

Unplugged Elementary Kids and Online Tests Don’t Mix

Published by — Children need a childhood first, technology much later. Recently I was at a luncheon where a Mom and Grandma minded their two-year-old by plugging him into a propped-up iPad and putting food at his right hand.  He remained inert unless the iPad fell flat or snacks ran out.  But twice in theContinue reading “Unplugged Elementary Kids and Online Tests Don’t Mix”

Giving Thanks for What’s Left of Childhood Magic

Published by — You rarely see a place that actually belongs to children. Completely by accident, on a get-away to Maine, my husband and I ran across a fairy village created by children.  It was so large and thrilling, it took us a minute to take in its riches. I’d been focused on the viewsContinue reading “Giving Thanks for What’s Left of Childhood Magic”

Why ‘Bad’ Moms Still Should Parent Their Kids

Published by — Teach incompetent parents responsive, responsible parenting to avoid taking babies away from the people they love. In her own opinion, Dr. Brenda Harden has made serious mistakes with other people’s lives. Thirty years ago Harden was a front-line social worker for Child Protective Services in New York City, frequently removing children from troubled, violentContinue reading “Why ‘Bad’ Moms Still Should Parent Their Kids”

What Does a Flourishing, Healthy, Competent Kid Look Like?

Published by — Child Trends is working on a new project to track positive trends among children and youth. Child Trends has started a “Flourishing Child Project.” Ironically, Child Trends (CT) has long been among my most reliable sources of data about the state of American kids, almost all of which is depressingly negative.  TheirContinue reading “What Does a Flourishing, Healthy, Competent Kid Look Like?”

Comforting a Child is a Basic Life Skill

Published by — At a Waldorf-inspred school in Providence, a caring adult helps an angry boy learn an important lesson in caring and empathy that teachers and schools would do well to consider. A delicious grandmotherly smell wafts through the Mariposa pre-school in Providence.  This old-fashioned-looking childhood oasis, in the midst of city grit, is idyllic. Well,Continue reading “Comforting a Child is a Basic Life Skill”

A Focus on Brain Development, Relationships Pays Off

Published by — By paying attention to brain development, neurological health and parent relationships at the earliest ages, we can radically improve outcomes for more kids. Here’s a jaw-dropping stat: A kid’s brain develops 50,000 synapses EVERY MINUTE. Synapses are the connections made by the brain’s information-carrying cells, neurons, that “wire” our experience into knowledge,Continue reading “A Focus on Brain Development, Relationships Pays Off”