Jill Biden + Deadly Math Problems + Bratproofing Your Child + Redefining Geeks

[amazon asin=144245735X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Jill Biden, author of Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops.
Topic: The Second Lady of the US talks about being the mother of a deployed soldier and the effects of deployment on children.


[amazon asin=0761163743&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Sean Connolly, author of The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math.
Topic: Death-defying challenges for young mathematicians.
Issues: How to defeat vampires using algebraic equations; destroy and out-of-control asteroid using geometry; escape an enemy spy using ratios and proportions; plus killer tornadoes, deadly spiders, zombies, and more.


[amazon asin=1569803455&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 3: Lewis Solomon and Janet Stern Solomon, coauthors of Bratproofing Your Children.
Topic: How to raise socially and financially responsible kids.
Issues: Protecting children from potentially negative influences of parents’ wealth; protecting your wealth from being destroyed by children and grandchildren.


[amazon asin=0425221563&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 4: Marybeth Hicks, author of Bringing Up Geeks.
Topic: How to protect your kid’s childhood in a grow-up-too-fast world.
Issues: Redefining “geek” in positive terms (Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids); freeing children from cultural conditioning while instilling important values; pursuing passions instead of fashions; resisting peer pressure and destructive behavior; supporting the love of learning that helps kids excel in school.

The Finnish Line: Could Americans Learn From the Finnish Education System?

Seems like every few months there’s a story about how bad American students do in math, science, and reading than many other countries. Usually, we’re compared with China and South Korea and a few other Asian countries where Tiger parenting rules supreme. (South Korea, by the way, has the highest student suicide rate of any country in the world. I think I’d opt for a live child with lower grades than a dead straight-A student.) But what we don’t hear much about is Finland, which does remarkably well on these tests and has happier, less-depressed (and less suicidal) children. In this guest post from Jason Evan, we’ll find out what Finland is doing that we might be able to learn from.

Here in the States, we like to think of ourselves as the best and the brightest. For sure, there is a lot of brainpower coming out of America (we have Mark Zuckerberg, after all), yet in 2010 the scores from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exams were released and the U.S. was found to be about middling in reading, science and math (14th, 17th and 25th, respectively). Sure, we have some of our most ambitious and able resident pursuing programs such as LL.M taxation eventually, but what about those formative early years?

[Read more...]

Do Preschool Math and Reading Skills Predict College Success? Nope.

Preschool used to be pretty fun for kids. Lots of play, lots of hanging out with other kids and making friends. But in recent years, an increasing number of preschools have started teaching subjects like math and reading. The rationale is that kids need solid academic skills if they’re going to succeed in college and beyond. Sounds logical, but it turns out that it isn’t even close to being right.

[Read more...]

Want smarter kids? Have them play with dad.

One of the most classically dad things is playing–physically–with the kids. Now along comes another study that proves that imaginative play with dad is good for kids’s brains too. When you encourage your children’s imagination, their vocabularies are larger and they do better in math.

What’s unique about this particular study, which was done at Utah State University, is that the researchers went to the trouble of, gasp, including dads. Most previous play studies had looked at mom-child interactions.

So how do you boost the amount of imaginative play? Start by encouraging make believe and fantasy. Then, when your reading stories, don’t be shy about acting out some parts or talking about what’s happening in the illustrations or why particular characters are doing what they’re doing. Plopping your kids in front of the TV (or even watching silently with them) or reading books straight through from beginning to end without any commentary won’t help.

A bit more detail on the study here:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=19524630&title=study-shows-playtime-with-both-parents-crucial-to-child-development&s_cid=queue-6

 

There’s a Hole in the (Academic) Bucket… + Father’s Day Seal of Approval Winners

Dear Mr. Dad: As the school year draws to a close, I’m getting worried about my 9-year old daughter. She’s just an average student and really hates to do homework. I worry that she’ll forget a lot of what she learned over this past year and she’ll start fifth grade even further behind than she already is. What can we do?

A: I’m torn about this. On one hand, I think summers are a time for resting up, having fun, giving the mind a little time to recharge. Unfortunately, with so many kids booked into wall-to-wall camps and activities, summer can be even busier than the school year and recharging—at least mentally—is out of the question.

On the other hand, there’s the Summer Brain Drain, which is exactly what you’re worried about. Students lose, on average, 2 – 2.5 months of academic skills over the summer. Math and spelling are the subjects that get hit the hardest. Put a little differently, teachers have to spend the first month or two of the academic year reviewing material students learned—but didn’t retain—the year before. Here are a few ideas for how you might be able to plug the brain drain—or at least slow the leak down…

  • Visit the library. Most have great summer reading programs, complete with prizes for achieving reading goals.
  • Read at home. You and your child should take turns reading to each other every night, for 15-30 minutes each.
  • Look into summer schools. Sadly, only 10-20 percent of students attend one. But if your child is already weak in a subject or two, this is a great time to catch up—or possibly even get ahead.
  • Ask the teacher your child will have next year to let you borrow a few textbooks. He or she may be able to give you a summer reading list. At the very least, you can make doing a handful of math problems a prerequisite for playing computer games.
  • Don’t forget about writing. I’m not just talking about spelling and grammar—although both are important. I recently interviewed Jennifer Hallissy, author of The Write Start, who told me that “the speed and ease of children’s writing can have a major impact on their overall academic success.” Efficient writers take better notes—which makes studying a lot easier, regardless of the subject—and consistently get higher scores on written exams. Jennifer’s book has dozens of easy-to-implement activities for kids of any age.
  • Make learning fun. Of course, there are the usual standbys: trips to the zoo, museums, and planetariums. But you might also check out a few books that are filled with fun, entertaining (and, gasp, educational—but your child will never notice) activities. I’m really like the Geek Dad series by Ken Denmead, The Daring Book for Girls series by AndreaBuchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, and Sean Connolly’s The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science, which isn’t nearly as dangerous as it sounds.

With the big day just around the corner, we’ve been working frantically to evaluate our largest-ever field of submissions for the MrDad.com Seal of Approval and GreatDad Recommends awards. This season’s winners include:

<ul>

<li>A very cool, reusable kit for building a kid-sized fire station, from Box-O-Mania (boxomania.com)
<li>Spanish language learning DVDs and CDs, from Whistlefritz (whistlefritz.com)
<li>A fun, Jack-in-the-Beanstalk play-and-book-in-a-box from InnovativeKids (innovativekids.com)
<li>Web Hunt and Oh, Really? Two engaging family games from Find It Games (finditgames.com)

</ul>
The complete list—as well as submission guidelines for new products and services—is at mrdad.com/seal.