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Playground-related brain injuries on the rise

CBS News – Kathleen Doheny

“For some kids, playgrounds aren’t all fun and games. Playground-related brain injuries have risen significantly in the United States over the last decade, health officials say. Despite improvements in playground safety and design, between 2001 and 2013, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries annually among kids 14 and younger. The statistics were compiled for a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”(more)

Infants Learn to Pay Attention (or Not) From Watching Mom and Dad – Brian Handwerk

“Your infant child is watching what grabs your attention—so perhaps it’s time to put down that phone and focus on the toy of your baby’s choice. Doing so may boost the kid’s brain development, and chances of future success, by teaching him or her how to keep their own attention focused on the task at hand, a new study shows. Infants pay more attention to objects while playing when their caregivers do the same, but their eyes wander when a parent’s own gaze is distracted. The findings, published today in Current Biology, suggest that caregiver attention can aid in the development of sustained attention span in very young kids…Studies in kids from age 1 through grade school have shown that greater attention spans, even at a very young age, are a good predictor of future achievement. Focused attention also helps key cognitive achievements such as problem solving and language acquisition.”(more)

White House Symposium Addresses STEM Education at An Early Age

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“Federal officials spoke of the importance of STEM education at an early age, especially for girls, at a White House Symposium on Early STEM in which they introduced a number of new initiatives, grants, and partnerships. Entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators all came together for the symposium in an effort to determine the best ways to introduce science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to young children whose brains are still developing. “This work on early STEM experiences is not just about ensuring a strong academic foundation,” Education Secretary John King said at the event. “It’s about the joy that comes in learning about and coming to understand how the world works.””(more)

Short-term language learning aids mental agility, study suggests

Medical Xpress – Staff Writer

“Mental agility can be boosted by even a short period of learning a language, a study suggests. Tests carried out on students of all ages suggest that acquiring a new language improves a person’s attention, after only a week of study. Researchers also found that these benefits could be maintained with regular practice…This improvement was found for all ages, from 18 to 78 years…Lead researcher, Dr Thomas Bak of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said the results confirm the cognitive benefits of language learning. He said: “I think there are three important messages from our study: firstly, it is never too late to start a novel mental activity such as learning a new language. Secondly, even a short intensive course can show beneficial effects on some cognitive functions. Thirdly, this effect can be maintained through practice.””(more)

Motherly love helps children’s brains grow bigger, scientists find

The Telegraph – Sarah Knapton

“Motherly love can help children’s brains grow at twice the rate as neglected youngsters, a study has shown. Although it is known that a nurturing, stable home life improves overall childhood development, it is the first research to prove that it has a significant impact on brain size. Children who received the most support from their mother’s before school were found to have more growth in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memories and regulating emotions. Crucially, those youngsters who were more neglected when they were under six did not catch up, even when their mothers became more supportive in later years.”(more)

Should cursive writing follow the typewriter out of Michigan classrooms?

Michigan Radio – NPR – Josh Hakala

“You may have seen the internet meme floating around social media. It says, “Someday us old folks will use cursive writing as a secret code.” While intended as a joke, how close to the truth might it be in the coming decades? The art of cursive writing is being taught at fewer and fewer schools these days…“we know that typing and technology is the wave of the future and it’s not going anywhere,” said Valerie Zaryczny, an occupational therapist…Zaryczny cites research that shows that learning cursive can help a child’s brain development in the same way that it can when they learn a foreign language. She believes that a child who learns cursive will have an edge in the classroom.”(more)