Our High Tech Kids

chess is my game

Our High Tech Kids

Today I am writ­ing about hand­writ­ing, but it is just one more ingre­di­ent in this high tech world that has neg­a­tive impli­ca­tions for our chil­dren. Handwriting is even­tu­ally going to be a thing of the past. There are so many more high tech ways to com­mu­ni­cate and schools are begin­ning to focus on those alter­nate meth­ods.

As a stu­dent I have found that writ­ing notes helped me to remem­ber impor­tant details much bet­ter than if I had typed them. My own chil­dren found the same strat­egy to be true. Conversely, I can write more cre­atively when I type. I teach writ­ing to young chil­dren to facil­i­tate read­ing. It helps them to sin­gle out let­ter sounds and sight words in iso­la­tion and then apply it to text. Clearly, the act of writin,as well as typ­ing, has an impact and now we know more about why that is.

In a recent New York Times arti­cle it was said that:

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain bet­ter able to gen­er­ate ideas and retain infor­ma­tion. In other words, it’s not just what we write that mat­ters — but how.

When we write, a unique neural cir­cuit is auto­mat­i­cally acti­vated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psy­chol­o­gist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recog­ni­tion of the ges­ture in the writ­ten word, a sort of recog­ni­tion by men­tal sim­u­la­tion in your brain.

And it seems that this cir­cuit is con­tribut­ing in unique ways we didn’t real­ize,” he con­tin­ued. “Learning is made eas­ier.”

2012 study led by Karin James, a psy­chol­o­gist at Indiana University, lent sup­port to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were pre­sented with a let­ter or a shape on an index card and asked to repro­duce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dot­ted out­line, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a com­puter. They were then placed in a brain scan­ner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the ini­tial dupli­ca­tion process mat­tered a great deal. When chil­dren had drawn a let­ter free­hand, they exhib­ited increased activ­ity in three areas of the brain that are acti­vated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the infe­rior frontal gyrus and the pos­te­rior pari­etal cor­tex.

By con­trast, chil­dren who typed or traced the let­ter or shape showed no such effect. The acti­va­tion was sig­nif­i­cantly weaker.

Dr. James attrib­utes the dif­fer­ences to the messi­ness inher­ent in free-form hand­writ­ing: Not only must we first plan and exe­cute the action in a way that is not required when we have a trace­able out­line, but we are also likely to pro­duce a result that is highly vari­able.

In a study that fol­lowed chil­dren in grades two through five,Virginia Berninger, a psy­chol­o­gist at the University of Washington, demon­strated that print­ing, cur­sive writ­ing, and typ­ing on a key­board are all asso­ci­ated with dis­tinct and sep­a­rate brain pat­terns — and each results in a dis­tinct end prod­uct. When the chil­dren com­posed text by hand, they not only con­sis­tently pro­duced more words more quickly than they did on a key­board, but expressed more ideas. And brain imag­ing in the old­est sub­jects sug­gested that the con­nec­tion between writ­ing and idea gen­er­a­tion went even fur­ther. When these chil­dren were asked to come up with ideas for a com­po­si­tion, the ones with bet­ter hand­writ­ing exhib­ited greater neural acti­va­tion in areas asso­ci­ated with work­ing mem­ory — and increased over­all acti­va­tion in the read­ing and writ­ing net­works.

We live in an age where mod­ern con­ve­niences are chang­ing at light­ning speed. The way we com­mu­ni­cate, watch TV, use computers……………………….all dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than just two years ago. Even the food we eat is less whole­some than in years past. Our brain and other organs are still the same and requires proper stim­u­la­tion and nour­ish­ment. It scares me to think of how we may be hurt­ing our chil­dren as a result of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

I urge all par­ents and teach­ers to be fully mind­ful as we pre­pare our chil­dren towards their future.

 

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Kindergarten in New York City

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Kindergarten and Play

 

Last week, in yoga, the teacher inno­cently instructs us to be play­ful with our pose. Pretend that you are in kinder­garten she relates. I fume. Kindergarten has very lit­tle to do with play these days…..though I wish it did.  And why do peo­ple still think it does? There are schools that still value a less struc­tured and aca­d­e­mic cur­ricu­lum but those are few and far between. Many preschools, as well as par­ents, encour­age learn­ing basic skills such as the alpha­bet and num­ber recog­ni­tion as a way to give their child a leg up. The value of pre­tend play, exer­cis­ing fine and gross motor skills (small and large mus­cles,) and build­ing a child’s capac­ity for com­plex learn­ing tasks are sig­nif­i­cantly diin­ished. Instead, kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum goes straight to hard core aca­d­e­mics with limit­ted time for a five year old to be emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally free. Easels are gone…too messy. Fingerpainting is out. Clay is rarely used and soon crayons will be sub­sti­tuted for iPads. Worksheets are fre­quently used.

 

Many edu­ca­tors believe that this push to teach kinder­gart­ners in this way is inap­pro­pri­ate and inef­fec­tive. Children who are allowed to explore and exper­i­ment are more likely to be moti­vated to learn. Critical think­ing, which is at the heart of the new com­mon core cur­ricu­lum, is increased and chil­dren develop their social emo­tional skills in a sup­port­ive set­ting.

 

Parents who strive to give their chil­dren the best edu­ca­tion may look for the most rig­or­ous set­ting. In my opin­ion, a school that pro­vides great stim­u­la­tion for a child’s nat­ural curios­ity and then sup­ports them with a flex­i­ble envi­ron­ment in which to explore will be most effec­tive.

 

New York City pro­vides many options in both the pub­lic and pri­vate arena. Tests such as the ERB for pri­vate schools are impor­tant to some schools but not oth­ers. The G&T pro­gram may be an option but is often unac­cept­able. Hunter Elementary School is a great school but your child must per­form excep­tion­ally on the Stanford Binet Exam which is an IQ test. There are many gen­eral pub­lic schools that are won­der­ful options if you live within the school’s bound­aries. 

As you explore kinder­garten for your child’s next aca­d­e­mic step be aware of the trap­ping of the so called “top ten schools.”There is more to look at than a school’s rank­ing. Observe well and seek the advice of edu­ca­tors you respect. 

 

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2007/05/kindergartens_not_just_play_an.html

http://childparenting.about.com/od/schoollearning/a/kindergarteners_today_are_playing_less.htm

 

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Addicted To My Phone

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I admit it. I am addicted to my phone, Facebook, emails, and my guilty plea­sure: Bejeweled.

 

There are many rea­sons why my addic­tion con­cerns me but what if I were a par­ent? There are so many more issues at stake.

Modeling obses­sive screen time use, lack of atten­tive lis­ten­ing and prob­a­bly the most dis­con­cert­ing, poten­tial dan­ger from cell phone radi­a­tion to our most pre­cious babies.

Modeling Obsessive Screen Time or “I Need to Respond to This Text.”

If you are con­cerned with the amount of time your child spends on a a screen, look first at what behav­ior you are mod­el­ing. If your child is old enough, and you are brave enough, ask them what they think about your screen time. We all get impor­tant mes­sages but how often do we check our phone because of our com­pul­sive nature rather than true need? Is every thirty min­utes too infre­quent?

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Looking At Our Phone During A Conversation or “I Heard Every Word You Said.”

What mes­sage do we give our chil­dren when we engage in phone use while inter­act­ing with them? Are we say­ing they are not impor­tant enough to get our com­plete atten­tion? If you think look­ing at your phone while con­vers­ing has no impact then try a lit­tle role play­ing exper­i­ment. Evaluate how you feel when some­one looks you in the eye when you talk as opposed to down at their phone. We have all grown accus­tomed to being par­tially ignored. Is that a good thing?

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Are There Effects of Cell Phone Radiation? or We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

What are the effects of cell phone radi­a­tion on our chil­dren? Parents carry their babies and talk on the phone. Where is that phone in rela­tion to the baby’s head? We know that an infant’s skull is not even fully sealed. Should we place any poten­tial dan­ger in close prox­im­ity? Why would we take that chance?

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Cell phones are a part of our lives and most of us love them.  They also often allow us to be rude, unsafe, unpro­duc­tive and dis­tracted. I hope you take a moment to exam­ine your cell phone use and make informed choices for how they can best fit in your life.

Related links within links:

Cell Phone Radiation: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure

Quality Time With Your Children VS Your Phone

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