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When Kids Create Their Own Playground

The Atlantic – Katherine Martinelli

“Adventure playgrounds aren’t a new concept. Also known as waste-material playgrounds, they were popularized in Europe and the U.K. after World War II, when people realized that kids were playing in bombed-out lots…The primary components of an adventure playground are moveable parts (which can include items like boxes, pipes, paint, hammers, and even saws) and trained, paid grown-up “playworkers,” who oversee and facilitate the play without interfering…Shifts in parenting trends are reviving interest in waste-material playgrounds. So-called helicopter parenting, in which parents hover and rush in at the first sign of distress, is increasingly being called out by authors and researchers writing books and articles about the importance of letting children fail, working out their own problems, and developing independence.​”(more)

Congress Confronts a Balancing Act Between Education Research Data and Student Privacy Rights

The 74 – MARK KEIERLEBER

“During a U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, lawmakers heard testimony on the federal government’s role in making sure researchers and education technology companies are able to use student data in meaningful ways while keeping sensitive information secure from hackers and companies looking to exploit the information for profit…Neil Campbell, the director of next generation reforms at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, told the committee effective privacy policies require “a delicate balance” between parents’ desire for privacy and innovation in schools…“As important as research is,” Campbell said, “we know it is even more important to protect students’ privacy.””(more)

Education and the brain—what happens when children learn?

Medical Xpress – Staff Writer

“Tests carried out on toddlers reveal that something quite remarkable happens in child development between the ages of two and five – a stage identified by both educationalists and neuroscientists as critical to the capacity for learning. Dr Sara Baker is a researcher into early childhood at the Faculty of Education. She is interested in the role of the brain’s prefrontal lobe in how young children learn to adapt their understanding to an ever-shifting environment…Research by Baker and colleagues is contributing to an understanding of the acquisition of skills essential to learning. She explains: “The brain’s frontal lobe is one of the four major divisions of the cerebral cortex. It regulates decision-making, problem-solving and behaviour. We call these functions executive skills – they are at the root of the cognitive differences between humans and other animals.”(more)

Resting brain chatter predicts ability to learn second language

Medical News Today – Tim Newman

“Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the normal resting activity of students’ brains before embarking on a French language course. The team, led by Xiaoqian Chai and Denise Klein, measured whether differences in connectivity predicted the success of the language students. The results, published in The Journal of Neuroscience this week, are a tantalizing peek into why some people seem to learn second languages with more ease than others. Even at times when you are consciously thinking of nothing at all, the brain still presents measurable activity. It never truly sleeps…Sections of the brain that are spatially distant from each other continuously interact. This is called functional resting-state connectivity…The study found that preexisting differences in resting-state connectivity predict how well a student will learn a second language.”(more)

Handwriting instructor teaches cursive to young students in Roanoke

Richmond Times-Dispatch – Ralph Berrier Jr.

“As STEM subjects — those that are part of science, technology, engineering and math — and other computer-based skills have become priorities for schools, cursive has become a relic, like handwritten recipes and thank-you notes. The writing is on the wall, and it’s not in cursive. Now, however, a new chapter is being written for cursive. Several studies have shown that learning cursive makes students better learners. Writing in cursive stimulates the brain, improves memory and sharpens students’ ability to retain information, researchers have found.”(more)

You need them: Parents’ affection, support vital for development

Hindustan Times – Staff Writer

“Research from the University of Notre Dame, USA, has found that parents’ affection and support in childhood can have lasting effects on development well into adulthood…These evolved needs include six different components — soothing, naturalistic perinatal experiences, responsiveness to a baby’s needs including sensitivity to the signals of the baby before the baby cries, constant physical presence with plenty of affectionate touch, extensive breastfeeding, playful interactions with caregivers and friends, and a community of affectionate, mindful caregivers — which lead to better child development.”(more)