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For Young Brains, a Storytelling Sweet Spot

Edutopia – Youki Terada

“As a parent, one of my favorite activities with my toddler is storytime. These days I have plenty of good options: I can tell my son a story, we can read a picture book together, or I can turn on the TV or break out the iPad and watch a cartoon with him. At least that’s what I thought. A new study suggests that only one these experiences hits the “Goldilocks Zone”—that sweet spot where my son’s brain is highly active, his imagination is fully engaged, and he can spare a few moments to think about the story.” (more)

High-quality food is the foundation for a healthy life

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

There never seems to be enough time in the day, especially when you have a job and kids. After a long day of work the last thing most of us want to do when we get home is worry about preparing a meal. As a result, many of us stop for take-out, pop TV dinners in the microwave, or go through the drive-through on the way home.


While fast, pre-prepared, and restaurant food is quick, convenient, and satisfying it is often low in nutrients, fiber, and phytonutrients; high in refined carbohydrates; and full of artificial colors and flavors. In addition, these foods are generally easy to digest and high in trans-fats or processed vegetable oils. Worst of all, many prepared foods are designed for “sensory-specific satiety” which makes it easy for us to eat more than we need and to become addicted to the product.

Sadly, the impact of consuming these foods is not usually immediately apparent. In many cases, it takes years or decades for symptoms to develop. As a result, it is easy for parents to overlook the impact food may be having on the long-term health and welfare of their children.

More information on the hazards of poor food choices has reached the mainstream press recently. Dr. Eva Selhub wrote about the connection between food choices, brain structure and function, and mood in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog. “If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected. What’s interesting is that for many years, the medical field did not fully acknowledge the connection between mood and food.”

Also, according to research conducted by Sanjay Basu M.D., Ph.D. at the Stanford University Medical Center, “increased sugar in a population’s food supply was (is) linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”

Although it might seem overwhelming, ditching processed foods is possible even if you have a super busy schedule. The key is advanced planning, selecting healthy items when you get to the supermarket, and cooking enough extra food that you can have leftovers on days when there is no time to cook.

Once you adjust to the new approach to food, you will likely notice that everyone is less cranky and feels better, there are less sick days, and that you have more energy and patience.

Why Teenagers Should Understand Their Own Brains (And Why Their Teachers Should Too!)

NPR – Elissa Nadworny

“A teenage brain is a fascinating, still-changing place. There’s a lot going on: Social awareness, risk-taking, peer pressure; all are heightened during this period. Until relatively recently, it was thought that the brain was only actively developing during childhood — but in the last two decades, researchers have confirmed that the brain continues to develop during adolescence — a period of time that can stretch from the middle-school years into early adulthood.” (more)

Is Technology Bad for the Teenage Brain? (Yes, No and It’s Complicated.)

Ed Surge – John Medina

“It’s a question as frustrating as a hangnail, asked virtually every time I give a public lecture on teen brain development. It’s some form of: “is the digital world bad for the adolescent brain?” I’m frustrated because I can’t really give a satisfying answer. I end up misting the auditorium with questions, gentle as rolling fog, and just as obscuring. “What is meant by the ‘digital world?” I ask, “Xbox? Laptop? iPhone? Texting? Snapchat? Instagram? Facebook (for the two teens who still use it?)” Then I pause. “Perhaps you mean video games? If so, is MarioKart the same thing as Grand Theft Auto?”” (more)

Should there be a moratorium on high school football?

The District Administration – Mark A. Serva

“With the latest season of high school football concluded, now is perhaps an ideal time to consider whether or not there should be another. The game’s big hits generate excitement, but a growing body of research indicates that the human brain is not equipped to absorb such violent impacts. Microscopic tears and plaque (dubbed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE) gradually diminish the capacity of players’ brains. Early symptoms include dizziness and confusion, which can eventually progress to memory loss, tremors, speech impediments and even dementia.” (more)

A parent’s guide to why teens make bad decisions

Medical X-Press – James Mccue

“From getting beyond drunk at a friend’s party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid. But we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making don’t fully develop until early adulthood. A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices. So how can parents help their teenagers learn and apply good decision-making skills?.” (more)