Archive | December, 2014

Dr. Wilda Reviews: Ireland as a value vacation destination

31 Dec

Moi was invited to the “Jump into Ireland” presentation which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. The presentation included a complimentary no host bar including Guinness and other beers along with dinner which showcased Irish food and consisting of:

Salmon Irish Soda Bread Scones Lamb Stew Roasted Potatoes Cabbage Corned Beef An assortment of Irish Cheese and Butter An assortment of deserts including Guinness Chocolate and Cheese Cake

Information about Ireland can be found at “Jump into Ireland”: http://www.ireland.com/en-us/campaign/jump-into-ireland/

The headline of the presentation was no matter the number of stars one wants for their accommodation, Ireland delivers value from three stars to five stars at a price which is lower than continental Europe or Britain. A three star bed and breakfast starts at about $80 a night. The presentation emphasized the different regions of Ireland and the”Wild Atlantic Way” which is the longest designated driving route in the world. Another Highlight was Irish Design 2015 which is described as:

Irish Design 2015 is the start of a job creation journey exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design and designers through events and activities on the island of Ireland and internationally…. http://www.dccoi.ie/year-of-irish-design-2015

Irish Design 2015 is a year of activities and presentations. Another interesting tidbit was Belfast’s association with the Titanic. Both Waterford Crystal and Guinness have stunning visitor centers. Belleek Pottery is one of the oldest working potteries in the world and has been in operation since 1857.

Getting to Ireland from the West Coast is easy with non-stop Aer Lingus service to Dublin from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Dublin service on Ethiopian Airlines. Ireland is a perfect vacation for the value conscious who want the European experience with great value and a choice of venues from urban sophistication, village, rural, or a golf experience. For those interested in fishing and hunting, one can also have those experiences. Accommodation ranges from bed and breakfast to castles and everything in between. The key word is value.

Because of the value, no matter how many stars wants for their accommodation, Dr. Wilda gives the presentation a thumbs up.

YouTube Videos:

There are several US partners to the “Jump into Ireland” campaign:

Brendan Vacations – Whitney Ramirez wramirez@brendanvacations.com l (800) 687-1002 l http://www.brendanvacations.com

CIE Tours International – Angela Restivo a.viscito@cietours.com l (214) 809-6257 l http://www.cietours.com

Isle Inn Tours – Michael Hawe mike@isleinntours.com l (703) 683-4800 l http://www.isleinntours.com

Sceptre Tours – Bonnie Garret bgarrett@sceptretours.com l (800) 221-0924 l http://www.sceptretours.com

Premier Golf – Bill Hogan bill.hogan@premiergolf.com l (866) 260-4409 l premiergolf.com

Specialized Travel Services – Katie Daly Katie.Daly@special-ireland.com l (800) 664-7474 l http://www.special-ireland.com

Island of Ireland Based Partners:

Ballinahinch Castle – Carol Hinch carol@ballynahinch-castle.com l +353 (95) 31006 l http://www.ballynahinch-castle.com

B&B Ireland – Helena Healy hhealy@bandbireland.com l +353 (71) 98 22222 l http://www.bandbireland.com

Guinness Storehouse – Fiona Herald Fiona.herald@diageo.com l http://www.diageo.com

Shelbourne Hotel – Sheila O’Sullivan sheila.osullivan@renaissancehotels.com l +353 (1) 663 4500 l http://www.renaissancehotels.com

Adams & Butler – Hallmark of Luxury Travel – Siobhan Byrne Learat Siobhan@adamsandbutler.com l +353 (1) 288 9355 l http://www.adamsandbutler.com

House of Waterford Crystal – David Mc Coy david.mccoy@wwrd.com l http://www.wwrd.com

Secret Ireland Escapes – Mark O’Dwyer mark@luxuryyachtingireland.com l http://www.luxuryyachtingireland.com

Ireland’s Blue Book – Michelle Maguire Michelle@irelandsbluebook.com l +353 (1) 676 9914 l http://www.irelandsbluebook.com

Ashford Castle – Regina O’Donoghue Sales@ashfordcastle.com l +353 (94) 9546003 l http://www.ashfordcastle.com

Railtours Ireland First Class – Jim Deegan jim@railtoursireland.com l +353 (1) 856 0045 l http://www.railtoursireland.com

Lough Eske Castle, A Solis Hotel & SPA – Sean Carney sean.carney@solishotels.com l +353 (74) 97 25100 l http://www.solishotels.com

Monart Hotel & SPA Liam Anthony Griffin liamagriffin@griffingroup.ie l +353 (53) 92 38999 l http://www.griffingroup.ie

Northern Ireland Based Partners:

Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism/Lough Erne Golf Resort – Andrew Phelan & Tanya Cathcart apelan@Loughernresort.com l tanya@fermananaghlakelands.com +44 (0) 28 6632 3110 http://www.fermanaghlakelands.com

National Trust Northern Ireland – Gillian Little gillian.little@nationaltrust.org.uk l +44 (0) 28 9751 2365 l http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ni

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University of Texas Center for Brain Health study: Cognitive training can improve poor students performance

30 Dec

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/
Rebecca Klein of Huffington posted in the article, This Is What Could Close The Achievement Gap Among Young Kids, Study Says:

Just a few years of high-quality early childhood education could close the academic achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, a new study suggests.
The study, conducted by two university professors, analyzed previous data from a now-defunct program that offered free preschool to students from different social backgrounds.
Using this data, the researchers found that after providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, the kids had the same IQs as their wealthier peers by age… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/preschool-achievement-gap_n_4556916.html

A King’s College study is intriguing because it points to the value of early cognitive stimulation. See, Children’s drawings indicate later intelligence, study shows   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140818204114.htm

Science Daily reported in the article, Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development — and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training….

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210080748.htm

Citation:

Cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

Date:         December 10, 2014

 Source:     Center for Brain Health

Summary:

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers who, for the first time, examined the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

Here is the press release from the University Texas Center for Brain Health:

Study shows cognitive training can improve brain performance of students in poverty

By: The Center for Brain Health

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The cognitive effects of poverty can be mitigated during middle school with a targeted intervention, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In a paper published today in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers for the first time examine the efficacy of cognitive training in a large and diverse group of 7th and 8th grade public middle school students as compared to typically developing students who received no specific training.

“Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty can shape the wiring and even physical dimensions of a young child’s brain, with negative effects on language, learning and attention,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, director of the Center for BrainHealth’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative and assistant research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. “What this work shows is that there is hope for students in poverty to catch up with their peers not living in poverty.”

The research team studied 913 middle school students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, accounting for any diagnosed medical or learning differences. Five hundred and fifty six students received the cognitive intervention and 357 served as a comparison group. The protocol included pre- and post-training assessments, in which all adolescents were asked to read several texts and then craft a high-level summary, drawing upon inferences to transform ideas into novel, generalized statements, and recall important facts. For the 556 students who received the Center for BrainHealth-developed cognitive training called SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training), they completed 10 45-minute sessions over a one-month period. The SMART program was provided by research clinicians and consists of hierarchical cognitive processes that are explained and practiced through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities using student instructional manuals.

“Much focus has been put on early childhood learning and brain development – and for good reason,” said Dr. Gamino. “However, extensive frontal lobe development and pruning occurs during adolescence making middle school a prime opportunity to impact cognitive brain health.”

“Existing studies show that a large percentage of students in middle school are not developing inferential thinking entering high school,” explained Dr. Gamino. “The cognitive gains demonstrated after short-term, intensive training in this research suggest that middle school is an appropriate and beneficial time to teach students strategies to enhance understanding and the ability to infer global meanings from information beyond the explicit facts.”

Cognitive tests indicate that students living in poverty showed as much as a 25% increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstracted meaning from information presented, after training, comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line. Additionally, the SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18% improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted in training.

“The ability to use inference to abstract meaning from incoming information as trained in the SMART program is a skill crucial to future life success and applies to both academic and informal learning activities such as reading a school assignment, listening and taking notes from a lecture, watching a movie or television program, or having a conversation with a friend,” Dr. Gamino continued.

Findings revealed gender differences among the students studied as well. Seventh and eighth grade girls showed significant improvement after receiving the SMART program, as did 8th grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic level. After training, 7th grade boys showed improvement in fact retention but not gist reasoning.

The Center for Brain Health’s Adolescent Reasoning Initiative has provided training to more than 300 teachers and 30,000 teens across the country. The research team is planning to expand their study to determine if cognitive training closes the academic achievement gap by conducting longitudinal research and comparing standardized test scores.

The research was funded by the State of Texas, The AT&T Foundation, The Meadows Foundation and The Pickens Foundation.

http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-shows-cognitive-training-can-improve-brain-performance-of-students-in?utm_source=BrainHealth+Breakthrough+12.09.2014+Brain+Training+and+Socioeconomic+Status&utm_campaign=BHBT+12.09.14&utm_medium=email

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Related:

What is the Educare preschool model?                                                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/what-is-the-educare-preschool-model/

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University of Michigan study: How video games affect classroom teaching

18 Dec

Jordan Shapiro reported in the PJ Tech article, Study Shows Video Games’ Impact On Face-to-face Teaching:

In the past, I have covered many studies that look at the efficacy of game based learning. But a recent study from A-GAMES, a collaboration between New York University and the University of Michigan, is significant because it looks at the way games impact the learning experience and the relationship between teacher and student. It does this by considering how digital games support ‘formative assessment’ — a term educators and researchers use to describe “the techniques used by teachers to monitor, measure, and support student progress and learning during instruction.” It may sound fancy but “formative assessment” really just refers to the ongoing attention that all good teachers have always provided their students, monitoring student learning and offering ongoing and specific feedback.

A-GAMES stands for Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/Social Studies, and Science. The project is one among many games and learning research projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study, entitled “Empowering Educators: Supporting Student Progress in the Classroom with Digital Games,” was undertaken by Jan Plass at NYU and Barry Fishman at University of Michigan. Surveying 488 K-12 teachers from across the U.S., they found that “more than half of teachers (57 percent) use digital games weekly or more often in teaching, with 18 percent using games for teaching on a daily basis. A higher percentage of elementary school teachers (66 percent for grade K-2 teachers and 79 percent for grade 3-5 teachers) use games weekly or more often for teaching, compared with middle school (47 percent) and high school (40 percent) teachers.”

These numbers are more or less consistent with previous studies. particularly the Level-up Learning study that the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop issued this past fall. That study focused on teachers and how their thinking about digital games in the classroom impacts actual implementation. This A-GAMES study, alternatively, is looking in more detail at the way games impact the teacher’s ability to provide personalized attention, assessment, and feedback to individual students.

The NYU/University of Michigan study found that on a weekly basis, 34 percent of teachers use games to conduct formative assessment. What are they assessing? Facts and knowledge; concepts and big ideas; mastery of specific skills. And they are doing formative assessment with games in the same way they do it with other classroom activities: observing students in class; asking probing questions; looking over their shoulders. All of this suggests that “using digital games may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and effectively.” Game based learning seems to be aiding and supporting existing strategies rather than radically transforming the practice of teaching…

http://pjtec.info/study-shows-video-games-impact-on-face-to-face-teaching/

The University of Michigan reports the key findings:                                                                                             Key Findings

If digital games are to play a key role in classroom instruction, they must support core instructional activities. Formative assessment — techniques used by teachers to monitor, measure, and support student progress and learning during instruction — is a core practice of successful classrooms. The A-GAMES project (Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/ Social Studies, and Science) studied how teachers actually use digital games in their teaching to support formative assessment.

In Fall 2013, 488 K-12 teachers across the United States were surveyed about their digital game use and formative assessment practices to gain insight into their relationship to one another. The survey explored three areas:

Our results reveal that the way teachers use digital games for formative assessment is related to their overall formative assessment practices. Using digital games as part of instruction may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and more effectively.                                                 http://gamesandlearning.umich.edu/a-games/key-findings/

This study is interesting because it looks at how video games allow personalized interaction in the classroom.

Elena Malykhina of Scientific American wrote in Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education:

If educational video games are well executed, they can provide a strong framework for inquiry and project-based learning, says Alan Gershenfeld, co-founder and president of E-Line Media, a publisher of computer and video games and a Founding Industry Fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Games and Impact. “Games are also uniquely suited to fostering the skills necessary for navigating a complex, interconnected, rapidly changing 21st century,” he adds.

Digital literacy and understanding how systems (computer and otherwise) work will become increasingly important in a world where many of today’s students will pursue jobs that do not currently exist, says Gershenfeld, who wrote about video games’ potential to transform education in the February Scientific American. Tomorrow’s workers will also likely change jobs many times throughout their careers and “will almost certainly have jobs that require some level of mastery of digital media and technology,” he adds….

Perhaps the biggest impact of video games will be on students who have not responded as well to traditional teaching methods. Nearly half of the teachers surveyed say it is the low-performing students who generally benefit from the use of games, and more than half believe games have the ability to motivate struggling and special education students.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-video-games-are-the-future-of-education/

See, Teachers Surveyed on Using Digital Games in Class       http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/06/09/teachers-on-using-games-in-class/

As with any instructional technique, there are pros and cons.

Justin Marquis Ph.D. writes in the Classroom Aid article, Debates about Gamification and   Game-Based Learning(#GBL) in Education:

The Negatives

Those who have both feet firmly in the anti-gamification camp most often argue that there are no empirical studies that demonstrate real learning from games or that the skills learned in game play do not translate to the real world. That said, however, there are real negatives that can be associated with the introduction of gamification into education:

  • Cost – A fully game-based curriculum, or even one that relies heavily on games, represents a substantial increase in cost over standard book/paper/pencil education. For starters, there is the cost of the equipment, the cost of the software, and the additional expense of training teachers in the most effective pedagogical use of the medium.
  • Distraction from other objectives – The idea that playing games pulls learners from other more valuable skills must also be addressed. The underlying premise here is that games are fairly limited in their content and the context that they present for learning. This is true….
  • Social isolation – One of the biggest ongoing criticisms of games, and technology in general, is that it promotes anti-social behavior and isolates individuals. While some of this may have been true prior to the explosion of Web 2.0 technologies, it certainly is not any longer.  The focus of most new games is in social play. While players may not be interacting face-to-face they are interacting nonetheless. In fact, these technologically mediated interactions mirror much of the real-world communication that drives our personal lives and business. The process and social norms taught by these interactions represent very real and useful skills that translate perfectly outside of games.
  • Shortened attention span – This is the criticism of all modern media, and probably was a criticism of books when Guttenberg first started mass producing them. New technologies necessitate new ways of viewing the world and the nature of knowledge. Computer games are no different. The often rapid pace of action and the immediate feedback can make people expect the same kinds of fast-paced, instantaneous response of all things….

The Positives

While the limitations above are daunting and require significant shifting of educational and societal priorities in order to be overcome, they are worth addressing, particularly if weighed against the positive effects of gamification.

  • Technological literacy – Game play promotes literacy at many different levels, from technological to socio-emotional. At the very minimum, game play supports the development of skills necessary to run a computer, but it really goes far beyond that, as the installation, upkeep, and networking required for much game play also promotes high-level literacy skills in students (Marquis, 2009).
  • Multitasking mentality – The reality of our world is that we all multitask to a certain extent, splitting our attention between multiple screen, devices, and stimuli constantly. Games enhance this ability by forcing players to balance multiple kinds of inputs simultaneously in order to be successful. Try the fun multitasking game at the end of this post to see how well you can focus on multiple inputs.
  • Teamwork – While the isolationist tendencies of gamers have long been a popular stereotype, many current games are built on a social networking paradigm that not only allows for teamwork and collaborative play, but often requires it to be successful. This is one of the key skills required for working in a hyper-connected global economy.
  • Long-range planning – While the critique of games is that they shorten players’ ability to concentrate for extended periods of time, the opposite is actually true. Game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal refers to the hyper-intense and prolonged focus that gamers can experience in well-designed games and sees importance in the concept of “blissful productivity,” where players become so absorbed in the game that they lose track of time while working hard to achieve goals….
  • Individualized instruction – Because GBL focuses on each student playing and learning for themselves, individualized instruction is a natural part of the equation. This means two things; each student can work towards mastery, and each student can work at their own pace.

Many successful educators try to appeal to their students’ interest in order to engage them. With so many children and adults currently playing video games, games represent a natural way for teachers to reach a larger audience and have fun at the same time….                                                                   http://classroom-aid.com/2013/04/07/debates-about-gamification-and-game-based-learninggbl-in-education/

There should not be a one size fits all education system. For some children, video games are an appropriate education strategy.

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Columbia University study: Common household chemicals link to drop in child IQ

14 Dec

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. Science Daily reported in Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ:

Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home–di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)–had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.

DnBP and DiBP are found in a wide variety of consumer products, from dryer sheets to vinyl fabrics to personal care products like lipstick, hairspray, and nail polish, even some soaps. Since 2009, several phthalates have been banned from children’s toys and other childcare articles in the United States. However, no steps have been taken to protect the developing fetus by alerting pregnant women to potential exposures. In the U.S., phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on products in which they are used.

Researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low-income communities. They assessed the women’s exposure to four phthalates–DnBP, DiBP, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, and diethyl phthalate–in the third trimester of pregnancy by measuring levels of the chemicals’ metabolites in urine. Children were given IQ tests at age 7.

Children of mothers exposed during pregnancy to the highest 25 percent of concentrations of DnBP and DiBP had IQs 6.6 and 7.6 points lower, respectively, than children of mothers exposed to the lowest 25 percent of concentrations after controlling for factors like maternal IQ, maternal education, and quality of the home environment that are known to influence child IQ scores. The association was also seen for specific aspects of IQ, such as perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The researchers found no associations between the other two phthalates and child IQ.

The range of phthalate metabolite exposures measured in the mothers was not unusual: it was within what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed in a national sample.
“Pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children,” says lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.
“The magnitude of these IQ differences is troubling,” says senior author Robin Whyatt, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School. “A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential.”

PSYBLOG lists common household items in 8 Household Items Newly Found to Lower Children’s IQ Significantly:

Avoiding phthalates
While it is impossible to avoid phthalates completely, they are found in these common products, amongst others:
• Hairspray.
• Plastic containers used for microwaving food.
• Lipstick.
• Air fresheners.
• Dryer sheets.
• Nail polish.
• Some soaps.
• Recycled plastics labelled 3,6 or 7.
http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/12/8-household-items-newly-found-to-lower-childrens-iq-significantly.php

Citation:

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ
Date: December 10, 2014

Source: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Summary:
Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home — di-n-butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate — had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. While avoiding all phthalates in the United States is for now impossible, the researchers recommend that pregnant women take steps to limit exposure by not microwaving food in plastics, avoiding scented products as much as possible, including air fresheners, and dryer sheets, and not using recyclable plastics labeled as 3, 6, or 7. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210140823.htm
Persistent Associations between Maternal Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates on Child IQ at Age 7 Years
• Pam Factor-Litvak mail,
• Beverly Insel,
• Antonia M. Calafat,
• Xinhua Liu,
• Frederica Perera,
• Virginia A. Rauh,
• Robin M. Whyatt
• Published: December 10, 2014
• DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114003

Abstract
Background
Prior research reports inverse associations between maternal prenatal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and mental and motor development in preschoolers. No study evaluated whether these associations persist into school age.
Methods
In a follow up of 328 inner-city mothers and their children, we measured prenatal urinary metabolites of di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate in late pregnancy. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th edition was administered at child age 7 years and evaluates four areas of cognitive function associated with overall intelligence quotient (IQ).
Results
Child full-scale IQ was inversely associated with prenatal urinary metabolite concentrations of DnBP and DiBP: b = −2.69 (95% confidence interval [CI] = −4.33, −1.05) and b = −2.69 (95% CI = −4.22, −1.16) per log unit increase. Among children of mothers with the highest versus lowest quartile DnBP and DiBP metabolite concentrations, IQ was 6.7 (95% CI = 1.9, 11.4) and 7.6 (95% CI = 3.2, 12.1) points lower, respectively. Associations were unchanged after control for cognition at age 3 years. Significant inverse associations were also seen between maternal prenatal metabolite concentrations of DnBP and DiBP and child processing speed, perceptual reasoning and working memory; DiBP and child verbal comprehension; and BBzP and child perceptual reasoning.

Conclusion
Maternal prenatal urinary metabolite concentrations measured in late pregnancy of DnBP and DiBP are associated with deficits in children’s intellectual development at age 7 years. Because phthalate exposures are ubiquitous and concentrations seen here within the range previously observed among general populations, results are of public health significance. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114003

Saundra Young of CNN wrote about toxic chemicals in ‘Putting the next generation of brains in danger.’

According to Young there are several types of chemicals which pose a danger:

The best example of this, he said, is cosmetics and phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products from cosmetics, perfume, hair spray, soap and shampoos to plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, miniblinds, food containers and plastic wrap.
You can also find them in plastic plumbing pipes, medical tubing and fluid bags, vinyl flooring and other building materials. They are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.
In Europe, cosmetics don’t contain phthalates, but here in the United States some do.
Phthalates previously were used in pacifiers, soft rattles and teethers. But in 1999, after a push from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American companies stopped using them in those products.
“We certainly have the capability, it’s a matter of political will,” Landrigan said. “We have tried in this country over the last decade to pass chemical safety legislation but the chemical industry and their supporters have successfully beat back the effort.”
However, the Food and Drug Administration said two of the most common phthalates, — dibutylphthalate, or DBP, used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes to reduce cracking by making them less brittle, and dimethylphthalate, or DMP used in hairsprays — are now rarely used in this country.
Diethylphthalate, or DEP, used in fragrances, is the only phthalate still used in cosmetics, the FDA said.
“It’s not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health,” according to the FDA’s website. “An expert panel convened from 1998 to 2000 by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institute for Environmental Safety and Health, concluded that reproductive risks from exposure to phthalates were minimal to negligible in most cases….” http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/14/health/chemicals-children-brains/

See, Helping to protect children from the harmful effects of chemicals http://www.who.int/ipcs/highlights/children_chemicals/en/

Children will have the most success in school, if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study: Stress felt by children shows up in their art

9 Dec

Both the culture and the economy are experiencing turmoil. For some communities, the unsettled environment is a new phenomenon, for other communities, children have been stressed for generations. According to the article, Understanding Depression which was posted at the Kids Health site:

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds.
As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8. http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/understanding_depression.html

Jyoti Madhusoodanan and Nature magazine reported in the Scientific American article, Stress Alters Children’s Genomes:

Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed. Telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes from fraying over time, are shorter in children from poor and unstable homes than in children from more nurturing families…
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stress-alters-childrens-genomes/?WT.mc_id=SA_Facebook

Not only are the child’s gene’s altered, but there are behavioral indications of the stress being felt by the child.

Will Huntsberry of NPR wrote in the article, Kids’ Drawings Speak Volumes About Home:

When children reach 6 years old, their drawings matter.

Not because of those purple unicorns or pinstripe dragons but because of how kids sketch themselves and the very real people in their lives.

In a new study, researchers found that children who experienced chaos at home — including high levels of noise, excessive crowding, clutter and lack of structure — were more likely to draw themselves at a distance from their parents or much smaller in size relative to other figures.

In some cases, these kids drew themselves with drooping arms and indifferent or sad faces.

Their drawings were a reflection of this simple fact: Chaos at home meant parents were interacting with them less and, in many cases, the interactions that were happening were shorter and interrupted.

As a result, kids ended up with a depreciated sense of self, says Roger Mills-Koonce, who led the study with Bharathi Zvara at UNC-Chapel Hill. To be clear, Mills-Koonce did not blame parents or caretakers but called this kind of stress in the home a “function of poverty….”                                                                                                                                http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/12/08/368693069/kids-drawings-speak-volumes-about-home

Citation:

The Mediating Role of Parenting in the Associations Between Household Chaos and Children’s Representations of Family Dysfunction

Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors

2014

From the abstract: “Children’s drawings are thought to reflect their mental representations of self and their interpersonal relations within families. Household chaos is believed to disrupt key proximal processes related to optimal development. The present study examines the mediating role of parenting behaviors in the relations between two measures of household chaos, instability and disorganization, and how they may be evidenced in children’s representations of family dysfunction as derived from their drawings. The sample (N = 962) is from a longitudinal study of rural poverty exploring the ways in which child, family, and contextual factors shape development over time. Findings reveal that, after controlling for numerous factors including child and primary caregiver covariates, there were significant indirect effects from cumulative family disorganization, but not cumulative family instability, on children’s representation of family dysfunction through parenting behaviors. Results suggest that the proximal effects of daily disorganization outweigh the effects of periodic instability overtime.”

Related Project(s):

Children Living in Rural Poverty: The Continuation of the Family Life Project
Family Life Project

Available here: Attachment & Human Development

Or, you may utilize your local academic library to locate this copyrighted material.

Citation: Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., Cox, M., & the Family Life Project Key Contributors. (2014). The mediating role of parenting in the associations between household chaos and children’s representations of family dysfunction. Attachment & Human Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2014.966124

http://fpg.unc.edu/resources/mediating-role-parenting-associations-between-household-chaos-and-childrens-representation

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

Related:

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/

Resources:

  1. About.Com’s Depression In Young Children                                                          http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm
  2. Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children                                                      http://depression.about.com/od/child/Young_Children.htm
  3. Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=106034
  4. Family Doctor’s What Is Depression?                                                                               http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/depression.html
  5. WebMD’s Depression In Children                                                                                     http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children
  6. Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?                                                                                   http://www.healthline.com/hlvideo-5min/how-to-help-your-child-through-depression-517095449
  7. Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children http://www.onhealth.com/depression_in_children/article.htm

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Brookings study: Father’s education level influences the life chances of their children

7 Dec

Moi has been saying for decades that the optimum situation for raising children is a two-parent family for a variety of reasons. This two-parent family is an economic unit with the prospect of two incomes and a division of labor for the chores necessary to maintain the family structure. Parents also need a degree of maturity to raise children; after all, you and your child should not be raising each other.

Eric Schulzke of Deseret News reported in the article, Like father like child: why your future may be closely tied to your father’s income and education:

A child’s odds of breaking out of poverty or gaining a college education are heavily shaped by the father’s income and education level, says Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution.

In a couple of graphs that unpack piles of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics at the University of Michigan, Reeves breaks education and income levels down into quintiles and shows the close connection between a father’s level and how far his children go.

Whether you see that as a glass half empty or glass half full depend on your starting point, Reeves acknowledges. “If you assume that in an ideal world, where you would end up would bear no relation to where you started.” That is, he argues, if we had real equality of opportunity, 20 percent of every group would end up in the other four groups in the next generation.

Instead, 41 percent of kids whose father had top-level educational achievement stay there, and 36 percent of those who start in the bottom income bracket will remain there.

There is some mobility, of course. Of those who start in the bottom fifth of income levels, 35 percent end up in the middle class or above, which is roughly equal to the 36 percent who stay put….                                                                                                                                                           http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865616732/Like-father-like-child-why-your-future-may-be-closely-tied-to-your-fathers-income-and-education.html?pg=all

See, Children with married parents are better off — but marriage isn’t the reason why     http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/08/children-with-married-parents-are-better-off-but-marriage-isnt-the-reason-why/

Here is the relevant portion from The Inheritance of Education by Richard V. Reeves and Joanna Venator:

Educated Dad = Educated Kid

The two matrices look pretty similar – no surprise, given that income and education are tightly correlated. But in one respect there appears to be less mobility in terms of education: the replication of top-quintile status. Almost half (46%) the children of top-quintile parents ended up in the top education quintile themselves, and three in four (76%) stayed in one of the top two quintiles. The equivalent measures of ‘stickiness’ at the top for income are 41% and 65%.

This finding echoes research showing large, and possibly growing, gaps in educational attainment by social and economic background. The trend towards assortative mating – like marrying like – will likely strengthen the intergenerational transmission of high educational status. Of course education is one of main factors behind intergenerational income persistence, but it also troubling in its own right. The ethical demand for equality of opportunity in terms of education is even greater than for income. If a high level of education is effectively inherited, the ideal of meritocracy will move even further from our reach….                                                                    http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2014/10/27-intergenerational-education-mobility-reeves

This is a problem which never should have been swept under the carpet and if the chattering classes, politicians, and elite can’t see the magnitude of this problem, they are not just brain dead, they are flat-liners. There must be a new women’s movement, this time it doesn’t involve the “me first” philosophy of the social “progressives” or the elite who in order to validate their own particular life choices espouse philosophies that are dangerous or even poisonous to those who have fewer economic resources. This movement must urge women of color to be responsible for their reproductive choices. They cannot have children without having the resources both financial and having a committed partner. For all the talk of genocide involving the response and aftermath of “Katrina,” the real genocide is self-inflicted.

So, a behavior that statistically is more damaging than consuming sugary drinks is never condemned. The child born to a single poor mother is usually condemned to follow her into a life of poverty. Yet, the same rigor of dissuasion is not applied to young impressionable women who are becoming single mothers in large numbers as is applied to regular Coke or Pepsi addicts. Personal choice is involved, some of the snarky could categorize the personal choice as moronic in both cases. Government intervention is seen as the antidote in the case of sugary drinks, but not single motherhood. Why? Because we like to pick the morons we want government to control. The fact of the matter is that government control is just as bad in the case of sugary drinks as it would be in regulating a individual’s reproductive choice. The folks like Mayor Bloomberg who want government to control some behavior really don’t want to confront the difficult, for them, political choice of promoting individual personal values and responsibility. It is much easier to legislate a illusory solution. So, the ruling elite will continue to focus on obesity, which is a major health issue, while a disaster bigger than “Katrina” and “Sandy “ sweeps across the country with disastrous results.

Related:

Hard times are disrupting families

https://drwilda.com/2011/12/11/hard-times-are-disrupting-families/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

3rd world America: Money changes everything

https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

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