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Archive for July, 2010

Looks like music really can make your child smarter.

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by:

We’ve heard that listening to Mozart can make your baby smarter, but there has been little research to back up these claims. Until now.

A study out of Northwestern University has linked music to improved language, speech, memory, attention and vocal emotion. Why? Learning music can enhance the brain’s ability to adapt and change. Also, neural connections made during musical training prime the brain for all other aspects of human communication. The study went so far as to say that the benefits of music on your brain are equivelent to the benefits of exercise on your body.

But if you want your child to have the true benefits of music, you’ll have to go beyond listening to a Raffi sing-a-long. To get the full benefits of music you need to encourage your child to sing and play an instrument of their own.

Simply put, children who are muscially trained are better at observing pitch changes in speech and have a better vocabulary and reading ability than children who did not receive music training.

Why are our children becoming less creative?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 by:

Creativity is on the decline and, as parents, that should have us worried. A recent article published in Newsweek points out that while intelligence is on the rise, creativity has been steadily declining since 1990.

“With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.”

The scores for creativity are particularly bad for children kindergarten through grade six.

Since the correlation to lifetime accomplishments and success is three times stronger between childhood creativity scores than with IQ we need to start addressing what’s making our children less inquisitive and less likely to come up with original answers.

You could blame the usual suspects like TV, computer, video games and poor schooling and you’d likely be correct–at least in part. We can’t ignore the fact that as electronics gain importance in our lives creativity declines. But it is up to parents to make sure their children are given a creative outlet early in life.

Creativity flourishes when parents encourage uniqueness while providing a stable and loving home environment. Help your children discover their potential and give them the confidence to explore it.

Parent Guilt and TV

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by:

There have been so many studies lately linking children and TV time to everything from Attention Deficient Disorder to lack of brain development that I’m starting to feel guilty whenever I turn on the television set when my children are in same room.

Most recently a study published in the Pediatrics found that viewing television and playing video games are associated with increased subsequent attention problems in childhood. Will Disney now cause problems later?

I’ve always been of the opinion that moderation is the key.

Most public health officials, including the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend no screen time for children under two and a maximum of two hours for children two or older. While my 20-month-old does watch Dinosaur Train with his older brother, I am strict when it comes to the two hour a day rule and usually allow my children to watch much less. I also aim for days when the television set doesn’t go on.

Am I doing enough by avoiding extremes?

Results of the CAMH’s annual Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey found that hundreds of thousands of teens are spending at least seven hours a day in front of TV or a computer. As parents how do we best teach our children moderation now, to prevent excess later?

For me, the best I can do if offer my children is a wide range of stimulation most of the time, while occasionally allowing for some down time with a movie or tv show. Then, I can just hope that when they’re old enough to make choices on their own, they’ll be smart enough to want to balance reading and sports with chill out time.