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Despite A Revamped Focus On Real-Life Skills, ‘Home Ec’ Classes Fade Away

KQED News Mind/Shift – Tove Danovich

“”Sometimes we take for granted that kids know how to wash dishes,” says Susan Turgeson, president of the Association of Teacher Educators for family and consumer sciences. “I never thought I was going to have to explain, step by step, how to put the drain plug in, the amount of soap to be used.” Yet in many family and consumer sciences (FCS) classes in the United States, once known as “home economics,” teachers are instructing students in basics such as how to keep countertops clean or tell a teaspoon from a tablespoon. In 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act sought to address the rise of childhood obesity. But despite the renewed interest in showing children how to eat well, FCS classes haven’t gained traction along with that movement.” (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.

Embrace Change

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

“If you do not create change, change will create you.” ~ Unknown

Change has always been an inevitable part of life. However, the speed of change and the amount of change a person can expect to see over his/her lifetime has increased substantially in the last 50 years. A recent Innosight study gives us an idea of the magnitude of the shift. In 1958, the average age of a company on the S&P 500 listing was 58 years. Now it is about 18 years. In addition, pundits suggest there are significant technological developments about every two years.

This rapid change can be overwhelming and can quickly leave those who are not actively embracing it behind. As a result, young people need practice adapting to change, so they can adjust quickly and efficiently.

In addition to helping children prepare for life on their own, change also:
• Teaches flexibility
Frequent change makes it easier to adapt to new situations, new environments, and new people. When kids have this type of exposure, it is less likely they will “shut down”          when something unexpectedly shifts.
• Encourages growth
Change forces young people to adapt in ways that are outside of what they have experienced which can help children with personal development.
• Reveals likes and strengths
It is challenging for a child to know what he/she enjoys or what comes easily to him/her unless he/she tries many things. Change is often the only way this exploration occurs.
• Creates opportunities
When the environment or activity is changed, kids can start again without any preconceived expectations.
• Fosters creativity
New environments force children to figure out how to integrate and succeed.
• Cultivates risk-management skills
With exposure, children learn to break change into small pieces so adjustment is easier.

Parents are often the biggest reason kids struggle with change. Many adults are fearful that change will make their kids socially isolated and encourage them to embrace risky or anti-social behaviors. Interestingly, many kids who embrace these undesirable behaviors attend the same high school for all four years and participate in the same activities year after year. These same kids often struggle to adapt when they are finally on their own.

Given how fast technology is changing one has to wonder if conventional wisdom still makes sense. Is it possible that 21st Century kids need a different environment to flourish – stable relationships with their parents and family members and frequent change elsewhere in their lives?

Well-adjusted or only peer socialized?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Over the past fifty years what Americans believe makes a child well-adjusted has changed. Today many parents think a youngster is well-balanced if he/she interacts easily with his/her peers. Even though this type of social interaction is important, it is only part of what is necessary for a child to be happy, secure, and successful.

Children need to know they are loved and must have daily attention and socialization. Even though our society prioritizes peer socialization, it is equally important for kids to learn how to interact with people who are older and younger, of different socio-economic backgrounds, and from other cultures. It is also important that our children have open dialog with people who have different political viewpoints, interests, and careers.

Providing broad socialization does not have to be an expensive or time consuming process. Every community has people with diverse talents, passions, and interests and almost all areas have people from different cultures and of different ages. Rather than seeking safety in people who are similar, parents can reach out to those who are distinctive and include them in family events and social gatherings. This step allows their children to experience uncommon worldviews and cultural perspectives and have exposure to new career options, hobbies, and sports.

Sometimes we forget that emotional development is tied to physical well-being. To make matters more challenging, our lives are so busy that we overlook these physical necessities. Well-adjusted children need adequate sleep and exercise and need to eat well-balanced diets that include ample unrefined and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, meats, legumes, and grains. There are many websites that include recipes for quick, healthy options and fast food restaurants that provide fresh, wholesome choices.

We have less experience monitoring how our children are progressing beyond peer to peer socialization. As a result, it will likely take a conscious effort to make sure development is on schedule. Observation is often an effective tool. Do our kids actively engage adults in meaningful dialog in a broad range of subjects? How do they respond when someone broaches a topic which is new to them? Are they able to diplomatically disagree? Do they take the opinions of adults at face value or are they able to listen and form their own opinions? Have they developed new sports, art, or community interests?

Once a parent starts monitoring a broader range of emotional and physical components, they will have a good idea if their child is well-adjusted.

Study: Fathers’ Lifestyles Can Affect Health of Unborn Babies

Education News – Grace Smith

“For decades, expectant mothers have been cautioned about smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol, but now an expanding body of research suggests that men who are trying to have children should be just as careful as mothers. Carina Storrs, writing for CNN, reports that what fathers are exposed to can also have lasting effects on their youngsters’ health…If a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol crosses the placenta and can result in inferior coordination, delays in cognitive development, heart defects, and low birth weight. But research over the past ten years suggests that fathers who drink alcohol regularly before conceiving also increase the risk of their child having fetal alcohol syndrome. In fact, alcoholism or heavy drinking by men before conceiving has been linked to as many as 75% of affected babies. Drinking, smoking, or engaging in other risky behaviors seem to mark their progeny through epigenetics, which are the biological processes that finely adjust genes without mutating them.”(more)

Childhood Cardiovascular Problems Occur As Young As Age Eight

Healthy Magazine – Caitlin Schille

“Historically, cardiovascular problems were seen as an adult’s problem- the classic heart attack stereotype is a mid-to-older-aged businessman. However, new research is indicating that children as young as eight years old already have damage to their hearts. What is fueling this childhood heart damage? The short answer is widespread obesity in children. Poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, the main contributors to obesity, are causes of several conditions related to heart health, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure…Researchers fear that damage to the heart at such a young age could be permanent, although they hope that it can be reversible, to an extent…What is the take-away for parents? Help your children live a healthy lifestyle! As seen by this study of heart disease in children, obesity has very serious consequences. Here are some tips to help protect your child’s health:”(more)