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Genes are not destiny: Environment and education still matter when it comes to intelligence

Medical X-Press – Kate Lynch

“Recent research has suggested that academic performance, reading ability and IQ have a genetic basis. This reinforces the popular notion that intelligence and related cognitive capacities are somehow “in our genes”. This has led some people to reject the importance of educational interventions on the grounds that spending money on nurture isn’t going to significantly affect the abilities nature has given us. However, genes are not destiny. There is good evidence to show how effective environmental interventions can be for educational outcomes.”(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)

Parents as Chief Advocates

Getting Smart – Nancy Weinstein

“Did you know that in addition to your responsibilities of Chief Caregiver, Chief Cheerleader and Chief Taxi driver, Chief Advocate is high on the list? If you have a child with special needs, you know exactly where I’m going with this. For those who aren’t familiar, you should know that at some point, your child, every child, will need help in a specific class, with a teacher who is not meeting their needs, with a previously undetected learning problem, with bullying. It’s the problem that doesn’t go away in a week, or even a month. It impacts self-esteem and starts to look like depression or anxiety. And you, my fellow parent, are the only one who will understand the depth of the problem. You will be the one to see the nightly struggle with homework, the tears that wait for the comfort of home, the lack of appetite, the lack of sleep. And then your time as Chief Advocate has arrived. I’ve been there, and here are some strategies I believe can help:”(more)

School garden symposium sprouts green ideas for teachers, students

The Sacramento Bee – Sammy Caiola

“The sun blazed over The Met Sacramento High School’s courtyard Saturday as hundreds of farm-to-fork enthusiasts traversed between classrooms, grabbing a fresh apple or a packet of seeds along the way. The group gathered for the first day of “A Garden in Every School” symposium, the first event of its kind in the Sacramento region. The educators, volunteers and community organizers were in attendance to hammer out a plan to get gardening into every Sacramento school by 2020. It ends Sunday. The push for widespread school gardening – which has been shown to improve children’s eating habits, learning ability and overall health – took root more than 20 years ago, when state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin publicly proclaimed the need for hands-on access to produce across the state. Eastin kicked off the Saturday event along with Mayor Kevin Johnson.”(more)

Season of Giving: What Are You Getting for the Baby on Your List?

The Huffington Post – Matthew Melmed

“This month marks the beginning of the season of merriment and wonder. It’s a time to be reflective, a time to be with friends and family…And, let’s face it, it’s also a time when we give and receive lots of gifts. While many will buy toys or clothes for the babies and toddlers in our lives, there is another important gift we should be giving: the gift of a strong start…First and foremost, babies and their parents need the gift of time to begin the relationship that teaches babies how the world works and how they are valued…Critical wiring and learning is taking place inside a baby’s brain from day one. Their brains are making trillions of connections — or synapses — during this time. If the inputs they are receiving from their environment while these connections are being made are healthy and positive, good things happen.”(more)

Do you know the 5 Rs of early education? – Anna Nguyen

“In June, the AAP issued a new recommendations on early literacy that emphasized “reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships”…And now the AAP has more information for parents…” (more)