January 26, 2009

Donating Umbilical Cord Blood

Today more than 70 diseases are being treated using stem cells and the possibilities for these remarkable cells keep growing. I’m not alone when I tell you that in the future stem cells will be used to cure and treat diseases now fatal or disabling. Stem cell discoveries in the 21st century will be like the antibiotic boom in the last century.

The reason for the explosion in stem cell research is because these cells have the remarkable ability to develop into almost any type of cell in the body. It’s a complicated process, but after years of successful research, stem cells are now considered standard therapy in the treatment of many serious diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, some bone marrow diseases like multiple myeloma and some immune system diseases. And the list is growing.

Full story: Banking on cord blood

May 14, 2008

Less School Pressure, More Results

Like most schools these days, Edmonton’s Vernon Barford junior high lived by the modern ethic: more homework produces smarter kids, better marks and happier parents.

But that changed in 2006 when the school decided to buck the trend and reduce the load of assignments sent home in the book-laden backpacks of young teens.

The result? Even better marks, happier students and more creative projects, says Principal Stephen Lynch.

Full story: Less school pressure, more results

March 14, 2008

Do You Always Have To Do What The Pediatrician Says?

In many ways, pediatricians do know more than parents. When your doctor says your newborn needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat, don’t argue. When he says your 2-month-old with a 105-degree fever needs to get to the doctor’s office — and fast — you’d better listen.

But there are far more areas that are gray and have no science, or not very good science, to back them up, says our panel of pediatric experts. They say that sometimes, this means your pediatrician is giving you his or her opinion, not medical fact.

Full story: When it’s OK to question your pediatrician’s advice

March 12, 2008

Is it a bad idea to praise your kids?

For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.

When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

Full story: How Not to Talk to Your Kids

May 21, 2007

Montessori turns 100 – what the heck is it by the way?

It took the free spirit of the 1960s to revive Montessori education in the United States. Montessori herself had died a decade earlier, but her emphasis on children’s “absorbent minds” and their capacity to teach themselves aligned with the era’s rebellion against school’s traditional strictures.

Montessori classrooms, with their silver candlesticks (for polishing), beautiful toylike cubes, and child-size shelves and bins, seemed like the perfect romantic alternative to boring workbooks and rows of desks. They still do.

Mothering Magazine, my own barometer of granola parenting gone too far, calls them “magical” and filled with a “sense of wonder.” On the 100th anniversary of the 1907 opening of Montessori’s first school—in the slums of Rome—5,000 schools devoted to her method dot the United States, with another 17,000 worldwide. Many are preschools, but some are for older kids as well.

Full story: The Cult of the Pink Tower – Montessori turns 100—what the hell is it?