June 4, 2007

Rolling sneakers blamed for rise in kid injuries

Doctors recommend safety gear for kids who wear trendy ‘Heelys’.

CHICAGO – Trendy wheeled sneakers that let kids zip down sidewalks, across playgrounds and through mall crowds could also send them rolling into emergency rooms on a stretcher, say doctors who blame a rash of injuries on the international craze.

It’s called “heeling,” named after Heelys, the most popular brand. They’re sold in 70 countries and are so hot that their Carrollton, Texas, maker, Heelys Inc., recently landed atop BusinessWeek’s annual list of fastest growing companies.

But doctors from Ireland to Singapore have reported treating broken wrists, arms and ankles; dislocated elbows and even cracked skulls in children injured while wearing roller shoes.

Full story: Rolling sneakers blamed for rise in kid injuries

May 25, 2007

Babies can tell between languages

At four months, babies may be too young to speak or crawl, but they can certainly tell when a speaker has switched to a different language – with only visual cues.

Researcher Whitney Weikum from the University of British Columbia found that infants are able to discern when a different language is spoken by watching the shapes and rhythm of the speaker’s mouth and face movements.

The findings suggest that babies growing up in a bilingual environment advantageously maintain the discrimination abilities needed for separating and learning multiple languages.

Full story: Babies can tell between languages

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?

To Cut Crib Deaths, Separate Beds Are Urged for Babies

To minimize the risk of crib death, the nation’s largest organization of pediatricians is recommending that babies be put to sleep with pacifiers and in their own beds, despite intense opposition from advocates of breast-feeding and the “family bed.”

Full story: To Cut Crib Deaths, Separate Beds Are Urged for Babies

March 31, 2007

Day care good or bad: Debate rages, questions linger

“When the National Institutes of Health issued some good-news-and-bad-news findings this week for working parents with young children, it started with the “good” news.

Nice try.

The rest of the world focused on the bad. The longer children had spent in day care centers before kindergarten, researchers had found, the more likely their sixth-grade teachers were to report “problem behavior,” such as getting into fights, arguing or being disobedient.”

>> Full story: Day care good or bad: Debate rages, questions linger