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Ask the expert: Should my child learn to speak Mandarin?

The Irish Times – Staff Writer

“Edd Stockwell, co-founder of, which makes it easy to find good local tutors, says: “From Facebook’s chief executive delivering a 20-minute speech entirely in Mandarin for the Chinese president’s recent visit, China’s influence on the global market has never been so strong. “Alongside this, we’ve found the appetite for students learning Mandarin has also rocketed – recent statistics show a 24 per cent increase in learning the language. “So why is it so important for children to learn? Simple – invest in their future. China will play a major role in world affairs in the future and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Mandarin and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context..”(more)

10 food changes that will transform your child’s health

The Independent – Staff Writer

“If you want your child to eat healthily, this is only achievable by changing their environment and what the adults in the home eat. We need to switch our focus away from categorising and judging to promoting eating well for overall health and well-being. We must also be mindful that too much negative focus on a child’s size is associated with the manifestation of eating disorders in teenage years. Getting the balance right can be tricky. Here are some tips: Maintain a routine eating pattern We all have a relationship with food and the food environment. Fostering a healthy relationship with food during childhood is key to maintaining overall health during the adult years.”(more)

The power of PE in school: how sport gave Rory his confidence back

The Guardian – Youth Sport Trust

“Coping with severe dyslexia coupled with several physical issues left one year 12 student struggling with his confidence and self-esteem. Through the Sky Academy initiative, Sky Sports Living for Sport, which was set up in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, Rory Doherty found his confidence both in school and beyond. Here alongside his teacher Padraig O’Kane and athlete mentor Michael McKillop, the Paralympic gold medallist who helped turn his life around, he talks about his experience.”(more)

Cork study links childhood obesity and sugary drinks

The Irish Times – Paul Cullen

“Young children who consume sugar-sweetened drinks are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese, a study of more than 1,000 schoolchildren in Co Cork has found…It says the impact of sugary drink consumption on weight is much larger than any improvements achieved by intervening at a family or school level to weigh children or getting them to exercise more.”(more)

Early education: You’re never too young to get a start in the arts

The Irish Times – Sam Keating

“Thomas Johnston is a traditional musician and educational specialist. By day he works at St Patrick’s College, researching diversity in music education by documenting primary-school children’s experience of music in the classroom. In his spare time he works directly with an even younger demographic: infants and toddlers aged up to four. “As a musician,” says Johnston, “working with such a young age group is exciting because there is a completely natural reaction to music: they embody it through movement. But as an educator the challenge is also an exciting one. How do you enable them to engage with music in the best possible way?” Interest in early-years arts – targeting children before formal education – is growing in Ireland. As research reveals the enormous benefits to the development of children’s brains from cultural activity, and psychologists stress the importance of the first three years of life, the arts have become an integral part of early childcare.”(more)

Get a job in 2020: Follow your heart, or follow the money

The Irish Times – Peter McGuire

“The advice is clear: study languages, go for an IT course, get a job in construction, think about science and engineering. This, students are told, is where the jobs will be when they graduate in 2019 or 2020. The advice comes from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), whose track record on predicting the future – usually a notoriously fraught game for mugs – has been consistently solid. That said, students do need to consider what really interests them, and also what type of skills – such as teamwork and research – will really be needed in the workplace of 2020. We asked three experts for their advice.”(more)