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Against the Sticker Chart

The Atlantic | ERICA REISCHER | FEB 22, 2016

After working with thousands of families over my years as a family psychologist, I’ve found that one of the most common predicaments parents face is how to get kids to do what they’re asked. And one of the most common questions parents ask is about tools they can use to help them achieve this goal.

One such tool is the sticker chart, a type of behavior-modification system in which children receive stickers in exchange for desired behaviors like brushing their teeth, cleaning their room, or doing their homework. Kids can later “spend” their accrued stickers on prizes, outings, and treats.

Though data on how widely sticker charts are used (and when and why they became so popular) is difficult to find, anecdotal evidence suggests that these charts have become fairly commonplace in American parenting. Google searches for “sticker chart,” “chore chart,” and “reward chart” collectively return more than 1 million results. Amazon has more than 1,300 combined product results for the same searches. Reddit, too, is teeming with forums for parents asking each other about the merits of the charts and discussing  specific strategies.


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An ode to joy from our musical youth

The Guardian | Kevin McKenna | 21 February 2016

A project that began in Venezuela to bring music education to deprived areas is doing fabulous work in a number of Scottish council estates

Since the Raploch orchestra was established, two others have materialised: in Glasgow’s Govanhill and in Aberdeen’s Torry estate. Each of these communities, like those in Raploch, experiences ingrained challenges in health and social deprivation rooted in poverty and inequality. The results they have achieved in helping children recognise their gifts and to acknowledge that they can be best utilised by being equal parts of a bigger whole, an orchestra, are beyond argument.
In last year’s evaluation report of Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programme the economic worth to the nation was laid out thoroughly. This was commissioned by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Education Scotland and revealed in fine detail the hugely positive economic projections over a 70-year period, which began to materialise as early as year six of programme delivery.


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The Research Pirates of the Dark Web

The Atlantic | KAVEH WADDELL | FEB 9, 2016

There’s a battle raging over whether academic research should be free, and it’s overflowing into the dark web.

Most modern scholarly work remains locked behind paywalls, and unless your computer is on the network of a university with an expensive subscription, you have to pay a fee, often around 30 dollars, to access each paper.

Many scholars say this system makes publishers rich—Elsevier, a company that controls access to more than 2,000 journals, has a market capitalization about equal to that of Delta Airlines—but does not benefit the academics that conducted the research, or the public at large. Others worry that free academic journals would have a hard time upholding the rigorous standards and peer reviews that the most prestigious paid journals are famous for.


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activematters opinion | Obesity and physical activity

activematters | 23 February 2016

What is the difference between Sugar and Tobacco – when it comes to government intervention!

Given the delays in the release of the Obesity Strategy, the unlikely introduction of a UK Sugar Tax and the funding of the Change 4 Life by the food and soft drinks industry – the perfect example of misdirection and delay!

Continuing misrepresentation of what constitutes ‘diet’ or ‘low(er) in sugar’…the parallel with tobacco is not that far fetched!!

The bigger question remains - WHY does Physical Activity continue to be treated as the 'poor relation' in all documentation/initiatives/strategy around children and obesity prevention? The only report that clearly states the critical role played by physical activity is that published recently by the WHO. We have the CMO guidelines for young children's physical activity -ratified by the Chief Medical Officer.  Obviously the medical community have made the connection - so why is there no 'follow through'? Why are these guidelines (much stronger than 'recommendations') not considered as mandatory - implemented by those in Education - and under the aegis of Ofsted?'


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How early is infants' attention affected by surrounding culture?

Medical Xpress | 17 February 2016 | Journal reference: Frontiers in Psychology

Do the cultures in which we live shape how we view the objects and events in the world that surrounds us? Research with adults has suggested that it does. But how early might any such culturally inflected differences emerge in development?

In a new Northwestern University study, researchers address the issue directly, asking how 24-month-old  from the United States and China deploy their attention to objects and actions in active scenes.

Researchers found that 24-month-old infants from the U.S. and China—who are on the threshold of learning words for objects and actions—have a great deal in common when observing active scenes.

However, infants' looking patterns in the two cultures diverged significantly for a brief period.


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How New York Made Pre-K a Success

New York Times | Sunday Review | David L. Kirp | 13 February 2016

Abstract | A lesson on apples at Ira’s incorporates everything from art to arithmetic. The children draw apples, copy the names of the different varieties, peel and slice them, determine whether the weight of an apple changes when it’s boiled, build an orchard with blocks, “sell” apple pies at the classroom bakery and examine slices under a microscope. The youngsters work in small groups, and the teacher moves among them, asking questions and listening closely to determine who needs help.

Although the “learn through play” pedagogical approach is the same, the prekindergartens aren’t cookie-cutter copies. At Rainbow Child Development Center, in Flushing, Queens, children from a mix of backgrounds are learning Mandarin Chinese, as well as English. Students in the pre-K at Hellenic Classical Charter School, in South Park Slope, Brooklyn, mainly Hispanic and African-American, are introduced to Greek language and culture through song, dance, history and art.


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activematters | Endorsed Learning programme

7/8 th April 2016 | Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College

Course aimed at practitioners/professionals qualified at Level 3 and above

Are you able to:

  • Support Physical Development as a ‘Prime Area' of the EYFSC?

  • Implement the CMO physical activity guidelines for young children?

  • Deliver safe and effective physical activity sessions in your setting? 



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The Power of Thinking Like a Preschooler

The Atlantic | EDUCATION | LAUREN CASSANI DAVIS | FEB 11, 2016 |

What is it like to be a 4-year-old human? Trying to remember this experience with any accuracy is difficult. Memories are hazy flashes of sensory experience and emotion that fail to coalesce into something coherent: the red piped icing on a birthday cake, the sticky static of plastic wrap on mom’s dry cleaning, overwhelming waves of sadness from a Disney-movie soundtrack.

It’s no wonder that at an individual level, trying to talk and relate to a small child can feel like grappling with a foreign species. It’s also, perhaps, no wonder that a society of adults has trouble figuring out how best to design a preschool environment.

Erika Christakis has spent many years on the ground (literally) with children in a school setting, studying them as both educator and scientist. Previously a preschool teacher and director, she is now a child-development specialist at Yale University.


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Study finds new model for pediatric appointments improves preventive care for low-income families

Medical Xpress | Sandy Garcia | 11 February 2016

Well-child care visits are the checkups that children receive to ensure optimal health and well-being. The appointments are intended to give pediatricians the opportunity to identify health, social, development and behavioral issues.

However, the checkups typically last just 15 minutes—often not enough time for parents and doctors to discuss parenting issues, child behavior and development, and sources of stress for the family. The lack of time can be especially challenging for low-income families who may require additional education for the parents or whose children may have greater psychosocial and developmental needs. 

To address these issues, UCLA researchers partnered with community pediatric practices to systematically redesign the well-child checkup. The resulting program, described in a 2014 study, was Parent-focused Redesign for Encounters, Newborns to Toddlers, or PARENT, which was created to be family-centered and a more effective way to meet parents' needs in line with nationally recommended preventive care.


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Parents express concerns as more toddlers switch on tablet computers

The Conversation | Natalia Kucirkova | February 10, 2016

Most parents have profound concerns about their children reading digital books on tablets. In a new survey of 1,500 parents of under-eights in the UK about their attitudes to children’s use of technology and digital books at home, we found that only 8% have no concerns about them using tablets to read. For using digital media in general, only 16% of parents had no concerns.

By comparing the results with data from a similar survey conducted by the US-based Joan Ganz Cooney Center in 2014, the research also found that parents in the UK and US had different reasons for using or not using digital devices with their children. For example, more American than UK parents said that they use digital media together with their child to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate content.


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What are four of the top social media networks doing to protect children?

The Guardian | Marc Ambasna-Jones | Febuary 9 2016

According to recent report from NSPCC, ChildLine conducted 35,000 counselling sessions for low self-esteem between April 2014 and March 2015. The report blames “a constant onslaught from cyber-bullying, social media and the desire to copy celebrities,” as key reasons.

Julia Fossi, senior analyst for online safety at NSPCC says that while most platforms are taking steps to improve safety, social networks must be held more accountable for the content they host.

She says that social sites, which often use tracking technology for adverts and marketing could use a similar technology “to identify potential bullying issues and help determine what an effective intervention would look like.”


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Voters in This County Raised Their Own Property Taxes to Fund Childhood Wellness

the atlantic | JASON HANCOCK, ROUTE FIFTY | JAN 6, 2016

King County, Washington, now has the most ambitious early childhood development program in the country.

Communities around the country are looking for ways to invest in early childhood. And for the most part, that means focusing on preschool.

But for Washington state’s most populous jurisdiction, King County, waiting until kids get to preschool is too late.

Voters in the county, which is anchored by the city of Seattle, recently voted to increase their property taxes to pump around $65 million a year into the most comprehensive early childhood development program in the nation, said Sheila Capestany, strategic adviser for children and youth for King County.

Instead of focusing solely on preschool, the money will also support programs starting with prenatal care through early education and into a child’s teenage years until they reach adulthood.


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Are children who walk and talk early geniuses in the making?

the conversation | Emma Sumner | Elisabeth L Hill | February 4, 2016

From rolling over to walking and saying words, most parents will remember the exact age at which their child achieved a certain “milestone”. They will often also compare these early “rites of passage” to the progress of a sibling, cousin or friend, or to charts in the myriad parenting books setting out the ages at which children should develop certain skills.

For some parents this will provide reassurance about their child’s start in life. For others it will be a source of anxiety. But do milestones really say anything about a child’s potential? For example, is an early talker more likely to be academically gifted than others? Let’s take a look at the evidence.


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Preschoolers More Likely to Sit Around Than Run Around at School


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BHFNC - A manifesto for physical activity in the early years

The BHFNC and its Early Years Advisory Group have today launched The Best Start in Life – A manifesto for physical activity in the early years to ensure that every child has access to high quality physical activity opportunities from birth. 

Currently 91% of 2-4 year olds do not meet the UK physical activity guidelines for their age group of three hours per day. This means that they are missing out on opportunities for optimal growth and development and to establish healthy behaviours that carry on through to adulthood. 


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2016 | Conference | Diary Reminder

Learn, Explore, Debate | January, 2016, various venues As part of its work in continuing in the role as the DfE’s strategic partner for early years and childcare, 4Children has organised the next round of LED events. The agenda has still to be agreed but the events are likely to focus on the key priorities of the new government including 30 hours free childcare for employed parents.

19 January 2016, Birmingham; 20 January 2016, Taunton; 21 January 2016; Manchester 22 January 2016; London; 25 January 2016, Leeds Childminder Agencies: Information Sessions 4Children is hosting a series of information sessions about childminder agencies, and is inviting anyone interested in providing high quality, flexible childcare to attend. Current childminder agencies consist of nurseries, childminders, local authorities, and schools. The sessions will offer support to those considering setting up as an agency, either now or in the future, and share experiences and best practices of existing childminder agencies.

Nursery World Show 2016  | 5-6 February 2016, London

This annual show features live free theatre and themed zones, as well as an early years seminar and masterclass programme.

BECERA 2016: Risk, adventure and challenge in the early years | 16-17 February 2016, Birmingham

BECERA is an independent self-funding organisation run by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) which has dedicated itself to improving services for young children and families in the UK for more than 25 years. This year, the annual BECERA conference seeks to explore children’s need to experience adventure, challenge and risk taking.

Early Education - The Learning Together About Learning project | Feb/March 2016 – various locations

Early Education received funding from the Department for Education for a project to support and evaluate strategies for implementing the Early Years Pupil Premium. Six dissemination events with keynote speakers are being held around England in February and March 2016. The 15 pilot local networks will share what they have learnt about how to close the gap for children eligible for EYPP, how to make best use of the funds, and how to provide evidence of impact for Ofsted.


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No diet, no detox: how to relearn the art of eating

The Guardian | Bee Wilson | 5 January 2015

Abstract: Once you recognise the simple fact that food preferences are learned, many of the ways we approach eating start to look a little weird. To take a small example, consider the parents who go to great lengths to “hide” vegetables in children’s meals. Is broccoli really so terrible that it must be concealed from innocent minds? Whole cookbooks have been devoted to this arcane pursuit. It starts with the notion that children have an innate resistance to vegetables, and will only swallow them unawares, blitzed into pasta sauce or baked into sweet treats; they could never learn to love courgette for its own sake. We think we are being clever when we smuggle some beetroot into a cake. Ha! Tricked you into eating root vegetables! But since the child is not conscious that they are consuming beetroot, the main upshot is to entrench their liking for cake. A far cleverer thing would be to help children learn to become adults who choose vegetables consciously, of their own accord.


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How children feel when journalists exploit their social media profiles

the conversation |  | January 4, 2016

Today’s children will feature in almost 1,000 online photographs by the time they reach the age of five. That’s according to recent research commissioned by the charity Nominet for its online safety campaign, Knowthenet.

Recent national and international media coverage illustrates how journalists have used imagery and comments accessed from children’s social media accounts. But who should have access to these images – and what are these children’s rights to them?


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Foundation years and UK Government’s life chances strategy: joint inquiry

The Commons Work and Pensions and Education Select Committees | 17 December 2015

The Commons Work and Pensions and Education Select Committees are launching a joint inquiry into the Government’s life chances strategy and the role that early or foundation years intervention plays in shaping people’s lives.

The Government has announced it intends to track child poverty by monitoring educational attainment at 16 and numbers of children living in workless households. It also intends to set out a range of other indicators, including family breakdown, debt and addiction in a children’s life chances strategy. The inquiry will examine the proposals to introduce new life chances indicators and inform the development of the Government’s life chances strategy.