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Your Child

Kid’s Severe Injuries linked to BB Guns, Paintball

2:00

A new study says that Paintball, airsoft and BB guns are responsible for causing severe and sometimes life-threatening injuries in children.

"The popular conception is that they are toys," said Dr. Nina Mizuki Fitzgerald, the lead researcher and a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center/Children's Health in Dallas. Not so, she said,   "Injuries can be extremely severe and [children] can have long-term deficits."

Fitzgerald and her team evaluated medical records of children seen at Children's Medical Center Dallas of non-powder gun accidents between 2010 and 2015. In all, 288 children, average age 11, were treated for the gun injuries, more than three-quarters of which involved a BB gun.

About one in four children had to undergo surgery for the injury. Nearly 45 percent had a foreign body injury (such as the BB). About 15 percent were hospitalized. In addition, one in 10 had a functional deficit that interfered with daily tasks, and the overwhelming majority of those were eye-related. Seven children had an eye injury so severe surgeons had to remove the eye, the researchers reported.

"The biggest take-away for parents is that kids should always be supervised when using non-powder guns," Fitzgerald said. And children should always wear eye protection, she stressed.

BB gun pellets often leave a small puncture mark, giving the impression that there is only a minor injury. But Fitzgerald warns parents that these injuries may need medical attention. "There may be a tiny puncture mark, and it doesn't look bad at all. But they can have severe internal injuries," she explained.

The study results are not surprising because they build on previous research that found the same, said Dr. Roberto Warman, director of pediatric ophthalmology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. He has seen many such eye injuries in his years of practice, and recalls having to remove eyes that could not be saved. One child was only 3 years old, he added.

With paintball, kids may think the game is over, take off their eye protection, only to be shot by another child who hasn’t finished the game or shoots one last round. Collecting the paintball guns and then the goggles could help reduce that possibility, he suggested.

While some doctors think these activities should be banned for young children, others think education is the key to fewer accidents.

While it’s easy to think of these objects as toys, they are not. Experts agree that parents need to be informed that their children must wear goggles during the gun play and need to be supervised at all times.

Fitzgerald will present her findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Washington, D.C. Studies presented at medical meetings are viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20151023/paintball-bb-guns-can-severely-injure-kids-study-finds

Your Child

Getting Into the Swing of Summer Safety

2:00

As we wave goodbye to another school year, we say hello to summer.

Today marks the first official day of summer with a special event that hasn’t occurred for nearly 70 years. Tonight there will be a rare summer solstice full moon.

What a unique opportunity to round up the kids and do a little stargazing and moon watching this evening!

Getting into the swing of summer often includes fun activities like swimming, boating, biking, camping and other outdoor activities, but it also requires more attentiveness from parents and caregivers.

The more laissez-faire days give kids a chance to relax from school routines, but can also put them at a higher risk for accidents and injuries. It’s always a good idea to brush up on your summer safety tips.

Summer means high temperatures. In certain parts of the country, temperatures can be well over a hundred degrees. That’s not likely to keep kids indoors all day, and they really shouldn’t be if they are generally healthy.

Outdoor play is good for kids, but you may need to get them out in the mornings and later in the evening when temps aren’t quite so high. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they always wear shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns and harmful ultra-violet rays.

While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4 and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety:

Pool Safety:

•       Teach children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.

•       Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.

•       Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above ground pools.

•       Never leave a child unattended in or near water.

•       Make sure your child knows how to swim, starting at a young age.

•       Teach children to stay away from drains.

•       Make sure any pool or spa you’re child gets in has a safety compliant drain cover. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can even trap an adult.

•       Know how to perform CPR on a child and an adult. Often, bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can help save a life.  CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross.

•       Keep a cell phone nearby in case of an emergency, but don’t let it distract you from overseeing the children.

•       Know your child’s limits. Watch out for the "too's" — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.

•       Watch for kids diving above other kids. Make sure the area is clear when a child dives from a diving board.

•       Keep an eye on the weather. Make sure kids are out of the pool or lake if bad weather approaches. Take the fun inside till it’s clear.

•       Make sure that the water is clean – polluted water can make a child very sick.

Boating and water skiing safety:

Boating and water skiing can be great fun, but requires a lot of supervision.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are caused from drowning, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:

•       Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.

•       Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.

•       Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

•       Never consume alcohol when out on the waters with your child. Impaired judgment is often the cause of the most critical accidents and injuries.

Lawn Mower safety:

While not considered a typical summer “fun” activity, many severe accidents occur to small children riding on lawn mowers with a parent or grandparent.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations. The Academy cautions that the speed of a typical lawn mower blade can send dirt and bacteria deep into a wound, creating a high risk for severe infection. To avoid accidents involving lawn mowers, keep these tips in mind:

•       Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk beside, in front of or behind a moving mower.

•       Children under 6 years of age should be kept inside the home while mowing.

•       Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 years of age before operating a riding lawn mower.

Fire and fireworks safety:

Summer often involves grilling, campfires and fireworks. All of these activities are standard fair for a lot of families. A few simple safety tips can help prevent injuries.

•       Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.

•       Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is a burning fire.

•       Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.

•       Never let children ignite fireworks or play alone with them. Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders.

•       Attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.

These tips cover a few of the most common summer activities. We’ll continue with more summer safety tips in future articles. Welcome to summer fun and don’t forget to catch that awesome full moon tonight!

Story sources: http://dbqkidsguide.com/get-into-the-swing-of-summer-safety/

http://aap.org

 

 

 

Your Child

Are Kid’s Sack Lunches Healthier?

2:00

For some kids who bring their lunch to school, a new study suggests that as far as nutrition goes, they’d be better off buying their meal at the school cafeteria.

Researchers found that student’s bag lunches typically contained foods that were higher in sodium and sugar with fewer vegetables and whole grains compared with standards set for school cafeterias.

The findings are not necessarily surprising, said the study's senior researcher, Karen Cullen, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"Parents often pack lunches based on their children's preferences," she noted. Plus, she added, some other recent studies have found a similar pattern.

The study involved 12 elementary and middle schools in one Houston-area school district. Over two months, the researchers observed more than 300 students who brought their lunch from home -- noting what they ate and what they threw away.

On average, bag lunches were low on fruits and whole grains, and especially vegetables and milk.

School guidelines say kids should have three-quarters of a cup of vegetables (which really isn’t much) with every lunch. The average elementary school bag lunch had about one-tenth of that amount, according to the study.

Lunches brought from home also contained way too much sodium. The average bag lunch averaged 1,000 to 1,110 mg, versus a limit of 640 mg in elementary school lunches.

About 90 percent of the home lunches contained a dessert, sugary drink or snack chip. Guess what? Kids ate those items whereas between 20 and 30 percent of vegetables ended up in the garbage, according to the study.

Packing milk and palatable vegetables is tricky, noted Dr. Virginia Stallings, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who specializes in nutrition.

Giving your kids money to buy it at school can help solve the milk dilemma, said Stallings, who wrote an editorial published with the study. With vegetables, though, it can be challenging to go beyond carrot sticks, she added.

"I think that's one of the advantages of the school lunch," Stallings said. "Kids can have a hot meal, with cooked vegetables." She added that schools are working on making meals that are tasty without relying on salt, and expanding to include culturally diverse choices.

I don’t really think that kid’s attitudes have changed much about school lunches in the last few decades. As long as I can remember, kids eat what they want, trade foods with others and throw out the rest. They often gripe about their lunch food whether it comes from home or the school cafeteria.. That’s just what kids do.

So, if they are going to complain anyway you might as well fix them a lunch that will help them develop strong bones and hearts. The school systems have finally started paying attention to nutrition after all these years. They’re working on creative recipes that just might temp kids to eat better.

You already know that there are way too many American children that are eating poorly, not exercising and developing diabetes at a young age. It’s important what our children eat. Sometimes a school lunch is best and sometimes a lunch brought from home is best. Many times parents split the difference and do both.

Source: Amy Norton, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/education-news-745/kids-bag-lunches-not-meeting-nutrition-guidelines-694048.html

Your Child

McDonald’s Recalls Kid's “Step-iT” Wristbands Due to Burns, Skin Irritations

1:30

About 29 million of McDonald’s “Step-iT” activity wristbands have been recalled in the U.S. due to skin irritations or burns to children.

The recall involves “Step-iT” activity wristbands, which come in two styles—“Activity Counter” and a motion-activated “Light-up Band.” The Activity Counter comes in translucent plastic orange, blue or green and features a digital screen that tracks a child’s steps or other movement. The Light-up Band comes in translucent plastic red, purple, or orange and blinks light with the child’s movement. Both styles of activity wristbands have a square face with the words “STEP-iT” printed on them and a button to depress and activate the wristband. The back of the square face contains the etched words “Made for McDonald’s.” 

The company has received more than 70 reports of incidents, including seven reports of blisters, after wearing the wristbands.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled wristbands from children and return them to any McDonald’s for a free replacement toy and either a yogurt tube or bag of apple slices.

The wristbands were distributed exclusively by McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, from August 9, 2016 to August 17, 2016 with Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals. 

Consumers can contact McDonald’s at 800-244-6227 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT daily, or online at www.mcdonalds.com and click on “Safety Recall” for more information. 

You can see all the models recalled on http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/McDonalds-Recalls-Step-iT-Activity-Wristbands/

Your Child

Why the HPV Vaccine is Important for Girls and Boys

1:45

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been embroiled in controversy almost from the day it was announced.  Many parents found the idea of giving their young daughter or son a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease (STD) repugnant. When some states included the vaccine as a requirement for school entry, the cry of government overreach rang out loud and clear.

However, as more information about the benefits of the vaccine becomes known, vaccinations have slowly been climbing.  Health officials say that compliance is nowhere near what it should be and that the opportunity to reduce 6 cancers is being lost.

Cancers linked to the sexually transmitted HPV keep rising in the United States, even though most cases are preventable, health officials said in a recent report.

Cancer experts say the public perception of the vaccine needs to change.

"In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer," said Electra Paskett. She is co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer in Columbus.

"Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes -- and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe," Paskett added.

At current rates, these sexually linked cancers are developing in almost 12 of every 100,000 persons, the CDC said. In the previous five-year period, fewer than 33,500 of these HPV-linked cancers were diagnosed annually.

Using data from national cancer registries, CDC analysts looked for certain cancer types -- cervical, head and neck, and anal, among them -- that have links to HPV.

When looked at closely, researchers confirmed the HPV connection in 79 percent of cases.

The agency estimates that as many as 28,500 of these were preventable with recommended HPV vaccination.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine HPV vaccination of males and females at 11-12 years of age. The vaccine is most effective if administered before the onset of sexual activity, and antibody responses to the vaccine are highest at ages 9 through 15 years. Immunization of children against HPV infection will help prevent cancers and genital warts caused by HPV.

Even though no parent likes to think about their child growing up and being sexually active- most children will become young adults and eventually have families of their own. This vaccine protects against HPV, a disease that is strongly linked to 6 deadly cancers. It is most effective when administered to children between the ages of 9 and 15. That is why it is important for young boy and girls – as simple as that.

Story sources: Margaret Farley Steele, http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20160707/hpv-linked-cancers-still-climbing-in-us

https://www.aap.org/

Your Child

Study: Bedtime Routine Offers Kids Many Benefits

1:45

If your child doesn’t have a nightly bedtime routine, he or she is missing out on a tremendous amount of health and behavioral benefits according to a new study. And you’re not alone.

A multinational study consisting of over 10,000 mothers from 14 counties reported that less than 50 percent of their infants, toddlers and preschoolers had a regular bedtime routine every night.

Researchers determined that the participant’s children who did have a regular bedtime routine benefitted on many levels. The study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration. Children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine. Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems, as perceived by mothers.


“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child’s bedtime. The goal is to establish a behavioral chain leading up to sleep onset. Activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

“It’s important that parents create a consistent sleep schedule, relaxing bedtime routine and soothing sleep environment to help their child achieve healthy sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.


Researchers found that consistency was an important factor in helping children sleep well

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices:  Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

Mothers participated in the study by completing a validated, online questionnaire that included specific questions about their child’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and behavior. The questionnaire was translated into each language and back-translated to check for accuracy.

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell.  “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

Sleep deprivation is becoming an all too common problem with today’s children and adults. The earlier a good sleep routine can be established and practiced, the better for a child in the long run.

Study results are published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.

Source: http://www.healthcanal.com/disorders-conditions/sleep/63298-study-shows-that-children-sleep-better-when-they-have-a-nightly-bedtime-routine.html

Your Child

The Debate: Homework or No Homework?

1:45

Does homework improve a student’s academic achievement or does it interfere with family time and create a negative learning experience? That’s part of the debate that is currently going on over whether homework is a good or bad thing for students.

Brandy Young, a second grade teacher in Godley, Texas, recently made the news when a letter she gave to her student’s parents, went viral on social media.

Young said that she was dropping homework from her curriculum for the new school year.

"Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance," Young wrote. "Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."

That made a lot of Young’s students very happy.

According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), homework has had a fluid history.

“Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century, educators commonly believed that homework helped create disciplined minds. By 1940, growing concern that homework interfered with other home activities sparked a reaction against it. This trend was reversed in the late 1950s when the Soviets' launch of Sputnik led to concern that U.S. education lacked rigor; schools viewed more rigorous homework as a partial solution to the problem. By 1980, the trend had reversed again, with some learning theorists claiming that homework could be detrimental to students' mental health. Since then, impassioned arguments for and against homework have continued to proliferate.”

The case for homework involves several studies noting that student’s academic achievements improve when they are given meaningful homework and they complete assignments. A number of synthesis studies have been conducted on homework, spanning a broad range of approaches and levels of selectivity.  One such account, known as The Cooper Study, included more than 100 firsthand research reports, and the Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) study included about 50 empirical research reports. Conclusions from their studies stated,  “With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant. Therefore, we think it would not be imprudent, based on the evidence in hand, to conclude that doing homework causes improved academic achievement.”

The case against homework also cites several studies that suggest homework doesn’t improve students’ learning but instead overvalues work to the detriment of personal and familial wellbeing.

Some no-homework activists say that extended school hours work better for helping students learn and retain knowledge.

Several popular books have been written taking the no-homework stand; one is The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn. 

If homework needs to be assigned, Kohn suggest teachers should make sure that the assignments are beneficial, ideally involving students in activities appropriate for the home, such as performing an experiment in the kitchen, cooking, doing crossword puzzles with the family, watching good TV shows, or reading. Kohn also urged teachers to involve students in deciding what homework, and how much, they should do. One idea is that family participatory homework exercises can help students learn practical applications with school subjects and receive more bonding time in the process.

Many education experts believe homework provides valuable tools for student learning but also agree that meaningful homework should always be the goal and not assigned as a matter of policy.

Research has also shown that while students are typically assigned homework from Kindergarten to 12th grade, there has been no specific consensus on the benefits of homework at the early elementary grade levels, however, older students do improve their grades with homework.

Many parents are still uncertain about how they feel about homework. Some will tell you that their child has far too much assigned during the week and over the weekends, but they are not quite ready to chuck homework altogether. 

It’s an interesting debate that will continue to garner attention.

Whether you believe homework is necessary for better learning or is an obstacle to student achievement, one thing both sides can agree on is that parental involvement is the key ingredient to a happier and more prepared student.

Story source: Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering,

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx

 

 

Your Child

It’s Official; CDC Says Flu is Epidemic

2:00

The flu has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with 15 children dead so far this season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported at the end of December 2014.

Every year, the U.S. reaches a point where the number of flu cases enters the epidemic stage.  There’s no way to tell right now if this year’s flu season will end up being more or less severe than previous ones. Those statistics won’t be available till later in the year.

No state will be spared this season with more flu cases and deaths’ increasing in the next few weeks says Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in CDC's influenza division. "We are in the middle of flu season," Jhung said. "It's a safe bet that we are going to see flu activity continue to increase for a few more weeks. We are going to see every state in the country affected by flu."

The number of children’s deaths from flu changes every year. The latest victim may be a 17 year-old-girl in Minnesota. She was diagnosed with the flu and sent home to recover. Shanna Zwanziger had the flu for about a week before she died says her family. Her mother said Shanna was given the choice of whether to get the vaccine or not, and she chose not to.

The South, Midwest and Western states have been especially hard hit this flu season. At least six children have died in Tennessee and four in Minnesota, according to published reports.

The predominant flu strain this season is the H3N2 virus, the CDC says. This virus is not well matched to this year's flu vaccine, but what part this mismatch is playing in flu deaths isn't known, Jhung said.

The CDC acknowledges that that this year’s flu vaccine is not a good match for the most dominant strain of the virus. That’s because there’s not just one type of flu and the virus can mutate. This year’s vaccine was created before one of the viruses mutated. However, experts say that getting this year’s vaccine can still help protect you and can help make symptoms less severe if you get the flu.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot. It's not too late to get vaccinated, Jhung said. More than one type of flu is circulating, and the vaccine protects against at least three strains of circulating virus, he added.

"If you encounter one of those viruses where there is a very good match, then you will be well-protected," he said. "Even if there isn't a great match, the vaccine still provides protection against the virus that's circulating."

Many people get the flu and recover at home. They spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks feeling very bad and then start to feel better. But others face life-threatening complications – such as pneumonia- according to the CDC.

Jhung says parents should always take the flu seriously, and get medical help if their child is very sick.

Warning signs might include a cough that disrupts sleep, a fever that doesn't come down with treatment, or increased shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are treatments for the flu such as Tamiflu and Relenza. "Those work best when they are given very quickly. So if you do have signs and symptoms of flu, reach out to a health care provider and get evaluated," Jhung said.

The flu season moves into its later stage in January and February, with different flu types taking the lead. It’s not too late to get your family the flu shot. They are still available at physician’s offices as well as at many pharmacies and health care centers.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-now-epidemic-in-u-s-with-15-child-deaths-reported-695066.html

Liz Neporent, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/years-subpar-flu-shot-save-life/story?id=27898830

Your Child

Why Kids Should Learn Handwriting

1:45

I think it’s fair to say that handwriting is becoming a lost art. Computers, tablets and phone keyboards have made actual writing with a pen and paper almost obsolete.

What was once an integral part of a child’s daily school lessons, today, gets about one-fourth the instruction time. What is surprising is that in the not too far future, some kids may never learn penmanship at all.

If keyboards become the most popular form of communication, is there really a need for printing and cursive skills? Yes, according to some educators. Not only will children lose the personal touch of handwriting but will they also lose the benefits learning penmanship offers the developing brain.

Putting pen to paper stimulates brain circuits involved with memory, attention, motor skills, and language in a way punching a keyboard doesn't.

"There is this assumption that we live in the computer age, and we don't need handwriting anymore. That's wrong," says Virginia Berninger, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

Indiana University psychologist Karin James, PhD, recently published a study looking at brain scans of preschoolers before and after they learned to produce letters, either by printing or typing. Before the lesson, the children couldn't decipher between a random shape and a letter, and their brains responded similarly to each. After they learned to hand-draw a letter, brain regions needed for reading lit up at the sight of the letter like they do in a literate adult. Learning to type a letter yielded no such change.

Other studies have shown that preschoolers that practice handwriting read better in elementary school.

Handwriting also requires concentration and teaches brain circuits responsible for motor coordination, vision, and memory to work together. "If in the future we were to take away teaching handwriting altogether, I worry there could be real negative impacts on children's development," James says.

Timed right, cursive also comes with some unique advantages. Berninger's research suggests kids who link their letters via cursive get a better handle on what those words look like and end up being better spellers, she says. Cursive also allows them to compose their thoughts faster than in block handwriting or via typing (at least until about seventh grade, when their brains become mature enough to manage two-handed typing quickly).

Berninger says parents can offer their children extra guidance with learning handwriting even before their child begins school and through their early years. Some children may learn these skills quicker and some may need a little more practice. But on an average:

Preschoolers can strengthen motor skills by playing with clay, stringing beads, working through mazes, and connecting dots with arrows to form letters.

From kindergarten through second grade, children should master block letters.

Third to fourth grade is when kids can begin and master cursive.

By fifth grade, children should continue to write by hand while being introduced to typing by touch (not just hunt and peck.)

As I’ve become more accustomed to using my computer or phone to communicate with others, I’ve noticed that my own handwriting skills are beginning to suffer. Cursive isn’t as fluid and readable as when I handwrote more often and my eye, hand and pen coordination isn’t near as comfortable as it used to be. 

I hope future generations will not lose the art of handwriting, not only because of the developmental benefits it offers, but because each person’s handwriting is unique to them.

Story source: Lisa Marshall, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/handwriting-matters-kids#1

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