Category Archives: Education

Effects on Children of Kindergarten As the New First Grade

While most recently posed by PBS special correspondent Cat Wise: “Are young kids losing the brain-boosting benefits of playtime?” this question of the day has actually already been asked and answered several times. Problem is, the powers that be continue to ignore the evidence, turning our kindergartens into the new first grade.

Just take a look:

To analyze data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study from both 1998-99 and 2010-11, University of Virginia researchers asked detailed questions of about 2,500 1998 public school kindergarten teachers-a time before the No Child Left Behind Law was enacted–and some 2,700 in 2010.

Researchers Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham, and Anna Rowen used these teachers’ responses to compare kindergarten classrooms in 1998 and 2010. As much as possible, they also compared the 2010 teachers’ answers with those of first grade teachers in 1999.

Here’s a sampling of what was uncovered:

  • 2010 teachers are 33% likelier than their 1998 colleagues to believe academic instruction should begin before kindergarten, with children knowing the alphabet and how to use a pencil before starting kindergarten than those in 1998.
  • In 2010, 80% of teachers said children should learn to read in kindergarten vs. just 31% of teachers who believed that in 1998.
  • In 2010, 73% of kindergartners took some kind of standardized test-1/3 of them taking them at least once a month.
  • During those 12 years, daily music instruction decreased by 18 percentage points, and daily art instruction was down by 16%
  • From 1998 to 2010, the number of teachers who spent at least one hour per day on child-selected activities fell by 14%, and classrooms with discovery or play areas, such as a sand table, science, and/or art area, fell by 20%.
  • Teaching reading and math via textbooks rose about 15% from 1998 to 2010.
  • In 2010, teachers were 22% more likely to say that evaluating students in relation to local and state standards was very important or essential. Back in 1998, teachers were not asked how frequently such assessments were used to chart student progress.

Said Bassock, “We were surprised to see just how drastic the changes have been over a short period of time. We expected to see changes on some of these dimensions but not nearly so systematically and not nearly of this magnitude.”

Her conclusion: “These changes likely have important implications for children’s learning trajectories.”

Oh, yes, and know, too, that, although these findings represent a nationwide trend, they apply even more so to schools that primarily serve low-income and minority children.

In authoring the Alliance for Childhood’s “Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School,” Edward Miller and Joan Almon found that, through play, children”learn the powerful lesson of pursuing their own ideas to a successful conclusion.” They also “have greater language skills than non-players,” as well as:

  • Better social skills
  • More empathy
  • More imagination
  • More of the subtle capacity to know what others mean
  • Are less aggressive
  • Show more self-control
  • Higher levels of thinking.

Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. and other so-called reformers continue to insist on the use of prescriptive lessons that reflect the Common Core and related state standards right there along with their aligned standardized assessments, which are then administered even to our youngest learners.

One result: Not only are second and third grade teachers now reporting that their charges are already burned out, teachers all around are being called upon to teach empathy and character.

Many call this progress. You, too?

Thanksgiving and Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thanksgiving is just round the corner; which means that it’s now time for friends and relatives to visit your home. It’s the time of the year when families cook special foods like that on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. It’s that time of the year when holiday foods like collard greens, tamales, empanadas, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and potato latkes are spread on the table.

But for children with autism spectrum disorder, the coming few weeks could be quite overwhelming. They’ll experience new tastes, new smells, and new sounds and sights almost everywhere. The routines are changed. Special religious symbols and trees suddenly appear in the house. The usual foods disappear from the dining table. And that often poses a challenge to the family of the autistic child.

Special needs teachers know that these are difficult times for autistic children. They experience so many new things. Setting up the classroom, so that it mirrors the holidays, can make the transition easier in both school and home. Autistic children can enjoy the fun seasonal activities of how to wrap Christmas goodies and gift them to other children. A talking raven and curved pumpkins would transform into colorful leaf arrangements and turkeys. A Christmas tree and some Christmas music, along with a Santa are put up in front of classrooms by early November. More holiday symbols and activities are gradually added to help the autistic children adjust to the season.

In many special needs schools, new foods are introduced. This helps them to prepare for the thanksgiving and Christmas parties. The thanksgiving platter may include traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pumpkin pies.

Elsewhere, winter holiday parties are a great time to introduce Santa to autistic children. Besides, it’s a great time to experience a large gathering of family, friends and strangers. The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps, developed to impart communication skills to children with autism spectrum disorder, are of a great use in these times. These two apps help autistic kids to express themselves even to total strangers.

With all the decoration around, the look on the children’s faces is priceless when grandparents, parents, and siblings walk into the classroom. An annual event like this is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand how “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps have helped children with autism pick up key communication skills. And for the children, waiting for Santa to speak to them, is the most eagerly-awaited moment.

How Sensory Integration Therapy Assists Children Facing Special Challenges

With early interventions and appropriate sensory integration therapy, children who face developmental or social and emotional challenges can make marked progress toward goals. A diagnosis of autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, or other sensory disorders is frightening and confusing for parents. Often, these disorders aren’t diagnosed until early childhood.

Warning Signs

In infancy and toddlerhood, the signs of a processing disorder may be more difficult to spot. Some common symptoms include trouble sleeping, difficulty eating, and refusing to be separated from one caregiver. A lack of dexterity or activity or, conversely, extreme activity may seem to fall within the parameters of “normal” infant and toddler behavior, but these could be warning signs of a developmental challenge.

As the child enters the preschool years, the signs become more prominent and troubling. Toilet training delays are common, as are difficulties with fine motor tasks. Having difficulty with transitions, aggressiveness, or avoidance of touch and certain textures may also surface. Children who have trouble integrating sensory information may also have sudden mood swings and temper tantrums. They’re overwhelmed by the jumble of information coming at them, and their brain’s inability to sort out the signals. That’s where sensory integration therapy comes in.

Dyspraxia

A qualified occupational therapist will guide the child through activities that are specifically designed to exercise and strengthen specific processing abilities. A child challenged by dyspraxia, for example, might have difficulty with balance and posture, as well as motor skills. They will be encouraged to engage in tumbling, twirling, and other large motor movement activities that help teach the brain to process the input of movement and positional information. With the guidance of the therapist, the child is led through the activities that give the brain more practice in interpreting input about the position and movement of the body.

Autism

Autistic children face special challenges when participating in everyday life. Sensitivity to outside stimuli like textures, light, and sounds can prove overwhelming. In sensory integration therapy, the child is exposed gradually to various stimuli, slowly re-teaching the brain how to respond. One example of the technique in action is the use of a ball pit. The child is encouraged to reach into the balls and retrieve an object like a stuffed animal. The sound and feel of the plastic balls might be overwhelming in a different setting, but with a gradual introduction and encouragement from the therapist, the child learns to filter out the overwhelming flow of information and focus on the task. The therapist helps the child learn self-soothing techniques such as rubbing their back or arms during therapy. This movement reassures the child and teaches them how to offset the stimuli of the balls touching their arms.

With the help of a qualified therapist, sensory integration therapy can become an important part of an overall treatment program, helping a challenged child reach their fullest developmental potential.

Baby Boomers Are Downsizing, But Millennial Children Don’t Want Family Heirlooms

Whether we’ve become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

That means less space for all those sentimental family heirlooms passed down through the generations and stuff we’ve carefully collected over our lifetime. We may assume our children will be thrilled when we give them our most prized possessions.

Think again. Turns out the Millennials aren’t so hip on family heirlooms. Maybe this is what they mean by generation gap these days.

Do our children want all those photo albums we gingerly created over the years? Nah, our kids don’t know half the people in them anyway. You’re likely to get a request to scan the important photos and email them. And who uses photo albums anymore? Our grown-up children are busy capturing their own life moments digitally through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

That gorgeous formal dining room set and china passed down through the generations? Where would our kids put it? Besides, Millennials entertain much less formally than we did back in the day. They prefer a more minimal lifestyle instead of the fussy, bulky, and formal furnishings we grew up on. You may very well get a polite no thank-you.

How about all those old report cards, trophies, and artwork you carefully tucked away for your children? All those sweet homemade cards they lovingly made for you? Surely, they’ll want their own sentimental treasures. Not so much. It seems Millennials aren’t as nostalgic as us boomers.

Odds are our grown children are following the current trend to live minimally themselves and don’t own a home with an attic or basement to store stuff. They may travel or move a lot.

Several articles have been written lately regarding this phenomenon and the resulting clash between the generations.

Should this cause hurt feelings on our part? Should we try laying a little guilt to knock some sense into our children’s heads? “This means so much to me.” “I paid a lot of money for this.” “This is part of our family history.”

Heck no! There’s a fine line between bestow and burden. I say we should listen to and respect our children’s wishes. Furthermore, we should be proud of them.

Our grown-up children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we snub our noses during the 60’s at people for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle – not copying ours. Isn’t that what we raised them to do?

So what should baby boomers do with all our heirlooms and possessions?

Save those items that you can’t bear to lose. Use your china everyday instead of storing it. But don’t hang on to items year after year because you can’t bother to sort through your belongings.

Remember, all those heirlooms and possessions served their practical purpose. You used and enjoyed them through the years. If you think these things are still useful, sell or donate them to someone who really wants and will appreciate them.

With love in their hearts, your children made homemade gifts and cards for you. You relished them through the years and the gifts brought you joy. The gift-giving cycles is now complete. Keep a few items and let the rest go.

Whatever you do, don’t force your children to deal with all the clutter after you’ve passed away. Do your children a favor and have an honest discussion. Allow your children to take items they truly love and that work for their lifestyle.

Then go through the sorting process now while you’re still healthy. And take heart. Your children don’t need that ancient massive armoire to remember you fondly and keep you in their heart.

Teaching Entrepreneurship To Children: Should We Do It?

Should we be teaching entrepreneurship to children? When you were a child did you ever have a stand where you sold soft drinks like sodas? Did you ever offer cakes and candy to other students at school in order to make some money?

Not everybody is bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when they are kids however. I truly believe that it’s vital teaching entrepreneurship to children. The harsh realities of entering into the workforce in a difficult economy presents a lot of challenges. The alternative of being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is something that should be explained to children and young people.

Making then Aware of an Alternative

The main thing working against our children having an entrepreneurial mindset is our education system. With only a few exceptions, most of the teaching we get from the time we are in kindergarten to the day we graduate from college is…

* Make sure you get a good education

* Study hard and graduate with your degree

* Get a wonderful job with great additional benefits and you’re set for life!

There are a number of issues with this.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with working and getting a good job with for a terrific company. A lot of people end up doing this and a some enjoy it and make a huge contribution to their company.

The real truth is that there is a HUGE portion of people who are not pleased with their jobs and are in fact totally dissatisfied. This can be due to the fact that they either do not like the work they do, who they actually work with or they may not get paid enough being just one paycheck away from being broke.

The Second problem is that it is very RARE in these modern times to find anybody that works at one specific job for more than 3 to 5 years. Switching between jobs regularly has actually become the “brand-new standard”.

That’s why it’s so essential in teaching entrepreneurship to children and revealing to them that there is an option to having to go out into the workforce to make a living. Would it not make more sense to instruct children about entrepreneurship and show them a that there is a very real alternative to living a life in the corporate world.

Teaching them about things like beginning their own home-business… particularly an online business. We have to remember that the younger generation now invest most of their time online nowadays. So,when they are young, why not instruct them about how to make money with a medium like the internet that they are so comfortable using.

Keeping it Real

Understanding that children these days can truly benefit from finding out how to begin their own business, how do we begin teaching them about it?

I think it’s extremely important to set the right expectations early on. Having your own business can be an amazing experience, however children should be taught that it does also include hard work and dedication. This is something that children (and adults) in some cases choose to skip over.

The reality is beginning an online business has the possibility to make you a lot more money than most everyday jobs.

It’s essential to offer children choices. Make them understand the benefits and challenges of working in the “Rat Race” and the alternative of working for themselves in their own business.

To be really practical we have to remember that children will regularly want to select the most simple and “Safest” method rather than something that might present a greater challenge and require a little additional effort even though in the long-term they could be much better off.

Keep Their Dreams Alive

The last thing to keep in mind is to be supportive of children who wish to start their own company. You see most children still have dreams and goals when they are young.

As time goes and life presents some obstacles to their dreams in various forms, children then start to lower their goals and become more willing to settle for mediocrity. That is unless they have someone to look up to and admire and to learn from. Be the kind of individual who motivates and supports those children to dream big and work hard to realise their ambitions.

With it becoming harder to find a good job nowadays, young children (and lots of grownups) need to be aware of the option of a home based business as a vehicle to achieve their dreams and objectives. Teaching entrepreneurship to children and assisting them in preserving their dreams can help pave a path on their journey to financial freedom and a life filled with passion.

Parenting – 5 Reasons Why Children Misbehave

Children misbehave for a reason and once we understand what that reason is, we’re that much closer to finding a solution to deal with it. Here is a list of some of the most common reasons children misbehave:

1. ATTENTION

Everyone has a basic need to be noticed. If children feel they’re not being noticed they’ll find a way to get our attention and usually acting out is the easiest way. Negative attention is better than nothing. If we’re going about our day, doing our own thing and suddenly we notice our child is off limits in some way, we stop what we’re doing and try and get them to stop. It worked. They got our attention.

2. NEED FOR POWER OR CONTROL

Apart from attention, we also have a basic need to feel we have power and control in our lives. If we don’t feel we have it, we find ways to get it. Children will say “no” just to gain control or they’ll do the opposite of what we’ve asked them to do, for the same reason. They’ll argue with us. They’ll get into a power struggle. If they sense their day is being completely orchestrated by someone else, they’ll find a way to gain back some control.

3. UNCLEAR BOUNDARIES

If children don’t know how far they can go or if rules are vague and inconsistent, many will test to find out exactly where the boundaries are. There is a conversation in their head that goes something like this: “I wonder if I do this, I’ll get into trouble” or “The last time I did this, no one said anything. I think I’ll try it again and see what happens” or “I’m not sure what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m going to find out for myself.”

4. ANGER AND HOSTILITY IN THE HOME

Children are extremely sensitive to everything going on around them. If parents are continually fighting in front of their kids or the tension is so intense it can be felt by everyone, all those feelings are picked up. They will also pick up if we’re distracted by something that is bothering us. It makes children feel insecure and fearful. Those feelings translate into anger. Their hostile behaviour may be a direct reflection of what they’re picking up at home.

5. PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT

Young children will act out when they’re tired or hungry. Many older children will as well but they’re better able to recognize the signs. It’s very easy to over-stimulate a young child by doing too many activities in one day. They can get into a state of stimulation overload which makes most people, including children, irritable. Some can handle more activities than others so it’s important to know your child’s threshold.

Helping Children Develop an Intelligent Relationship With Food

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving my local Post Office, I passed a young mom and her little girl. The little girl, who looked to be about five, was whining about something. The mother said to her, “If you’ll stop crying, I’ll give you a cupcake when we get home.”

On the surface of it, the mother’s remark seemed innocuous enough. And maybe the remark had no connection at all to the fact that both the mom and the little girl were overweight. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder: What was that mom inadvertently teaching her daughter?

Was she teaching her that sweets are a reward for good behavior? Was she teaching her that sweets are a way to assuage difficult emotions? If the child was learning either or both of these messages, she could be in for a lifetime struggle with issues around weight based on a dysfunctional relationship with food.

A new client recently came to my counseling practice about her compulsive overeating. She said she knew exactly how she acquired this behavior (and the girth that went with it). “When my brother and I were children, our parents told us that whoever cleaned their plate first could also eat from the sibling’s plate.” What message did she get about food? Maybe it was, “Eat all you can, as fast as you can, so you can eat some more.”

How many children have been coaxed or coerced to eat more than they want, for reasons that have nothing to do with actually feeling hungry or feeling full? “You can’t leave the table until you’ve eaten everything on your plate.” “You have to eat because somewhere other children are starving.” “Here, have some cookies and you’ll feel better.” “If you don’t eat that, Aunt Jane will think you don’t like her cooking.” Messages like these endow food with illogical meanings.

I’m a life coach and counselor specializing in solution-oriented therapies for habits and stress management. I help clients contending with many types of habits, both behavioral and emotional, and, as you can probably surmise, I have an ample share of clients who struggle with overeating and obesity on a daily basis.

My work has afforded me the opportunity to interview hundreds of clients concerning their eating habits and thoughts about food. It comes as no surprise to me that many overweight individuals maintain a dysfunctional relationship with food, often due to beliefs about food that they developed in childhood.

To have an intelligent relationship with food is to regard food as a source of nutrition and energy. Therefore, hunger or a let down in energy or concentration are signals to eat. People who eat in response to such signals are attuned to their body’s nutritional needs. They select their foods and size their portions accordingly and without much conscious effort. They eat when they feel hungry and stop when they feel full. They automatically balance their calorie intake and energy output to maintain a healthy weight. People who succeed at this are clearly in the minority in America.

People who maintain a dysfunctional relationship with food do not eat according to their body needs or in response to body signals. Instead, they turn to food to soothe troubling emotions- especially foods high in fat, sugar, and starch. They eat for comfort; not for nutritional value. They regard food as a reward for an accomplishment or for getting through a difficulty. Having lost touch with physical feelings that communicate hunger, they eat according to external cues – the time of day, seeing other people eat, the smell of food, an advertisement for food, or a magazine cover picturing a luscious dessert.

Because they are no longer in touch with body feelings that indicate satiety, they have no intuitive gauge as to appropriate portion size. They don’t know when to stop eating, so they overeat, consuming excess calories that get stored as fat.

Such eating habits lead to obesity. These habits are resistant to change because they are associated with comfort, convenience, and relief from stress. They substitute for the hard work of self-awareness and self-discipline, confronting difficult emotions, and developing effective coping skills – the things many people go to therapy to learn.

Granted, there are other factors that contribute to obesity. One factor is a ready abundance of cheap, processed foods high in sugars, starches, and fillers, low in nutritional value. A sedentary lifestyle, genetic issues, certain medications, some illnesses, and poor sleep habits round out the list.

Nevertheless, with childhood obesity more prevalent than at any time in history, parents might consider the messages they give their children about food. Here are three things they would do well to teach, by word, deed, and example:

• Food is for nutrition and energy. Some foods are more nutritious than others.

Parents who teach this will make sure they provide an ample supply of nutritious foods for snacks and meals, exposing their children’s palates to the tastes of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein when their children are young. Sugary and starchy foods should be a rare, special-occasion treat; not a daily staple.

• Eat when you feel hungry. Stop eating when you feel full.

Parents who teach this will give their children child-sized portions and avoid battles over food. If Suzy doesn’t eat, she can leave the table. If she is hungry later, offer a nutritious snack.

• If you feel stressed, let’s talk it over, consider some options, and find a viable solution.

It takes more time and effort to talk things over with an unhappy child than to appease him or her with a treat or a toy. Yet, age-appropriate problem-solving is a skill worth teaching.

Finally, if you have a tendency to overeat, because you eat according to external cues in your immediate environment, or to soothe difficult emotions, or to reward yourself, or because you don’t know when to stop eating, then perhaps it’s time to examine your own beliefs about food and its meanings. You might want to rethink and replace any unintended messages you received about food when you were young. You might then cultivate an intelligent relationship with food.

Have We Become Too Concerned With The Safety Of Children?

I sometimes think that many parents, especially mothers, would like to, unwittingly “wrap their children in cotton wool” while most fathers tend to prefer a bit of rough and tumble.

I am not for one moment minimising the dangers out there, they’re very real for sure. I’m referring to a much different kind of danger.

But has this protection gone too far? I feel that in many ways there is too much focus on the safety of children and not enough on just letting them be children, and act naturally, doing what kids have always done, and survived.

Here’s a quite funny tongue in cheek article by a writer who quotes from a newspaper article about the safety of children.

“In our National newspaper I recently read that a Public School had effectively banned cartwheels, hand-stands and somersaults.

Students at the school may still perform these life-threatening acts of reckless acrobatics, but they must do so only in the immediate presence of a trained gymnastics teacher.

Here’s a quite funny tongue in cheek article by the same writer:

AS I was carefully sitting at my desk, avoiding paper-cuts and saturated fats, I read the news that Drummoyne Public School had effectively banned cartwheels, hand-stands and somersaults.

Students at the school may still perform these life-threatening acts of reckless acrobatics, but they must do so only in the immediate presence of a trained gymnastics teacher.

Or a practising chiropractic specialist. Or someone who has recently worked as a circus clown or movie stunt-person. I don’t remember, I wasn’t concentrating.

A quick Google search told me that other things that have been either “banned or suggested for banning in NSW public schools include energy drinks, mayonnaise, kiwi fruit, hugging and the word, Easter”.

Some reckless people might think that these bans or almost-bans are akin to packing children in cotton wool and not letting them just be children, but I disagree.

Public schools are terrifying places filled with perils such as food, drink, and wide open spaces. We must protect future generations from things such as scraped knees, questionable self-esteem, fun and anything else that might help form dangerously well-rounded adults.

In order to ensure that our diminutive darlings are safe when they venture out into the government-sanctioned big wide world for book-learning, I suggest that we also ban, hard crusts.

To minimise bleeding gums which can become dangerously infected leading to death, sandwiches that have crusts any more robust than a wet piece of paper will be banned.

Indeed, let’s just eliminate crusts altogether to be on the safe side. The bonus here is a reduction in curly-haired children, who can make a playground look untidy.

Laughing itself is not particularly dangerous. However, the sharp intake of breath immediately after a typical laugh represents a choking risk, particularly if there are any hard crusts or insects within inhalation range.

It is acknowledged that laughter is a natural, automatic response in some situations and cannot be helped. So students are advised to avoid any situations which may be regarded as “funny”. Anyone attempting to be comical will be suspended immediately.

It’s a scientific fact that people who walk are at a far higher risk of tripping over, walking into walls and going to the shops to buy cigarettes than people who do not walk.

Walking may be permitted in the immediate presence of a suitably qualified doctor or cautious athlete – where it is absolutely necessary.

There’s a saying that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – it follows, then, that a lot of knowledge would be even more dangerous and therefore by far the safest thing would be to have no knowledge at all.

Not a single war has ever been waged without knowledge (although some boxing matches have) and nobody was ever shot without at least learning where to get their hands on a gun.

One hundred per cent of people who suffocate are known to have been breathing immediately beforehand. The correlation between breathing and suffocation cannot be denied: BANNED.”

I found the article hilarious and while the writer makes it all a bit fanciful, I believe she’s not too far off the mark. Children are much more resilient and intelligent than we give them credit for, including babies.

I decided when I had children that I would not be putting protective pieces of plastic around the corners of tables. Nor safety locks on cupboards. And also teach them how to eat and drink from non plastic food dishes and cups.

My fear for them was plastic. As for those cot bumper pads they were eventually reported to be a most dangerous so-called safety item for babies.

Babies and very young children use their eyes and legs and have enough intelligence to manoeuvre themselves around all these obstacles they find as they delightedly creep and crawl around their homes.

We should not spoil it for them but keep watch while allowing them the pure enjoyment of exploring their home environment.

Despite not having all of these safety measures in place for my babies, they happily explored the rooms of our home without any injuries. None of them opened cupboards and drank poisonous kitchen stuff.

And they also slept perfectly well without safety bumpers surrounding their cots. The world is scary enough as they will learn as they get older. We should not make them scared of table corners and such.

Stop Trying To Force Feed Our Children!

It’s no surprise that the American Advertising Federation (AAF) rapidly contested findings from a December 2005 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study that found food marketing to be detrimental to our nation’s youth. Exactly how such marketing influences children and youth was the focus of the IOM report entitled Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?, which was the most comprehensive review to date of the scientific evidence on the influence of food marketing on diets and diet-related health of children and youth.

Among other results, the report found that “current food and beverage marketing practices puts children’s long-term health at risk. If America’s children and youth are to develop eating habits that help them avoid early onset of diet-related chronic diseases, they have to reduce their intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks, fast foods, and sweetened drinks, which make up a high proportion of the products marketed to them.”

Considering the negative light this IOM study casts on the billion-dollar food marketing industry, AAF President & CEO Wally Snyder immediately challenged these findings, stating, “The advertising industry is keenly aware of the dangers of childhood obesity and has been engaged in finding genuine solutions to this problem for some time…food manufacturers are now promoting healthier products and active lifestyles for children.”

So, who should we believe: A respected medical research organization entering into studies with a presumably objective position, or an industry association with a vested interest in results of relevant studies?

BlueSuitMom.com (www.blusuitmom.com) set out to answer this burning question, having recently released results from a survey revealing how moms feel about food marketing to children, the new healthier choice foods offered by fast food restaurants, and childhood obesity in general. Conducted with over 2,000 mothers, the survey found that the majority – a full 67% – of moms say that “although ads have some influence on their children, they ultimately make the buying decisions for the family.”

Primary findings from the BlueSuitMom.com survey include:

o 86% of moms feel that teaching good eating habits to their children is one of the top lessons they can teach

o 95% of moms believe there is an obesity epidemic

o 54% of mothers want companies to help them teach their children good eating habits

o 88% do not want companies marketing unhealthy foods to their children

o 58% of moms say they are going to feed their family what they want regardless of marketing messages

o 40% of moms get nutritional information from product packaging and labels

“Marketers need to recognize that although they target children, it’s moms who control the household purse,” says Maria Bailey, Founder of BlueSuitMom.com and author of “Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion Dollar Market” and “Trillion Dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers.” “It’s time to shift that billions spent on marketing foods to children and focus on the gatekeeper.”

Additional findings from the BlueSuitMom.com survey include:

o 88% of mothers want restaurants to offer healthy choices for their family

o 62% of moms admit that they don’t always have time to feed their families healthy foods

o 77% of mothers are more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy foods on the menu

o 67% of moms say that adding more fruits and vegetables to their families diet is extremely important

o Moms consider popcorn and nuts to be the healthiest snack foods for their children other than fruits and vegetables

o 81% of moms will spend more for healthy food choices

While this debate, and others, related to childhood obesity will surely ensue, the upside is that we are all TALKING about this uber-important issue. Such awareness and dialogue will surely affect positive change.

Common Speech Disorders in Children

As children begin to speak and learn language, there may be a variety of disorders or conditions which could hinder them along the way. It’s important to become familiar with some of the most common, so that you know what you may expect, or what type of action should be taken. Here’s a guide to some of the most common speech disorders in children.

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech: This is motor speech disorder in which the brain has difficulty planning and sequencing movement of the articulators, and can result in difficulty producing sounds, syllables and words. The child may be able to internally process what he or she wanted to say, but may struggle to physically coordinate the movements to produce speech.
  • Stuttering: Stuttering is quite common, but can range greatly in terms of severity. An evaluation of an individual’s stuttering pattern would take into account family history, concomitant speech or language disorders, the presence of avoidance behaviors or secondary behaviors (e.g., grimacing, blinking), evaluation of the nature of the speaker’s disfluencies, and the speaker’s own views of his or her stuttering and how it affects his or her life.
  • Receptive-Expressive Language Impairment: An expressive language disorder relates to problems with a child getting his or her message across to others, while a receptive disorder relates to issues understanding an incoming message. Jointly a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder would have symptoms of both conditions.
  • Language-Based Learning Disabilities: This refers to a potentially wide range of different conditions, which hinder a child’s ability with age-appropriate reading, spelling and writing. Due to the relationship between spoken and written language, children with language-based learning disabilities may present with challenges with spoken language as well.
  • Phonological Disorder: A phonological disorder is a condition which affects a person’s ability to discriminate among and produce patterns of sounds. That means entire types of sounds may be omitted, or replaced with other entire types of sounds, i.e., replacing hard /k/ sounds with /t/ sounds, even though the child may be able to physically produce the /k/ and /t/ sounds in isolation.
  • Articulation Disorder: An articulation disorder is a type of speech-sound disorder, which relates to problems producing speech sounds. As such, certain sounds may be incorrectly substituted or omitted, or even added, to words.

By no means is this a comprehensive collection of speech disorders in children, but it does include a number of common conditions. Hopefully you’ve been able to gain new insight into terminology you may have previously heard of, but were unaware about what the real implications were.

If your child has been diagnosed with a speech disorder, or you believe he or she may have one, it’s important to receive an evaluation from a certified pediatric speech pathologist.