When Homework Doesn’t Help: 5 Things to Know About Kids This Week

Our curated list of kid-related news for March 25, 2016.

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Dana Villamagna, Toca Magazine Writer
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  •  1. Don’t do your homework, please. Kids should not be required to do homework in elementary school, and my kids won’t be, said Heather Shumaker, author of “It’s Okay to Go Up the Slide: Renegade rules for raising confident and creative kids.” In a recent article on the Today Show Parenting Team blog, the education and play expert wrote that parents “think we must uphold homework, so we do. We nag. Cajole. Fight. Beg. And as a last resort, we do our kid’s homework. There is another way. Say no, respectfully.” Her decision is backed by research; 180 studies have found there is no evidence of academic benefit to homework in elementary school. “It’s time to stop a practice that doesn’t work. It’s time to think, question, examine the research and, for kids’ sake, ban elementary school homework,” Shumaker asserted. (Here’s why I say no to homework for my elementary-aged kids)
  • 2. Younger siblings keep older kids fit. If a kid gets a sibling before first grade, their chances of being obese are far less than those who remain singletons longer, according to the results of a new study cited in the Washington Post this week. “Children who didn’t welcome a baby brother or sister into the family before first grade had almost triple the odds of obesity compared with kids who experienced the birth of a sibling when they were around 3 to 4 years old,” the study found. While it didn’t pinpoint why this correlation exists, health experts suggest it may be because families make an effort to incorporate healthier habits as more kids enter into the family, or kids tend to be more active with a sibling around. Another theory is that parents with more than one kid focus less on each child’s exact food intake, which other studies have shown is a good thing for better long-term self-regulation of food intake. The study, conducted at the University of Michigan and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, followed 697 kids in the U.S. from birth through age 6. While it signals kids with younger siblings may have a health advantage, it “doesn’t prove that being an only child will cause obesity…,” according to the article. (That annoying younger sibling is actually good for your health)
  • 3. She shoots, she scores, she’s 6! Jaliya Manuel’s dream is to play basketball in the WNBA, even though she’s only in first grade. In an article posted this week on the Good News Network, her parents said they discovered her love of basketball when she was “a year old and could barely walk.” She’s been dribbling and shooting ever since. She practices at home every day and her dad is her team’s coach. Already, Jaliya’s adorable and amazing video clips that show off her skills have more than 60 million views, and she’s been featured on NBC Nightly News. (Tiny basketball phenom plays like a pro, even though she’s only six)

  • 4. Guys and dolls? Yes, says this mom. Psychotherapist Laurel Wider is breaking the “boys don’t play with dolls” barrier with a new line of dolls made with boys in mind. Wider’s concern that her son and other boys lacked opportunities to foster their nurturing side through play led her to create the dolls, called Wonder Crew. A Kickstarter campaign helped her fund the doll line, which she said will soon expand to include more diverse dolls, including girl dolls. “When playing with Crewmates, the goal is to have boys realize that the dolls are just like them instead of idolizing action figures for superhuman strength and other unattainable abilities,” according to the article posted about Wonder Crew this week on Upworthy. “Let’s give boys the option to create a play experience that resonates,” Wider said. “Human connection is not gender-specific.” (A new company combines action figures with dolls, and boys love them)
  • 5. Birth season may increase health risks. According to a new study published in the journal Allergy, people born in autumn have an increased eczema risk and that risk can last well into adulthood. “We know that season of birth has an effect on people throughout their lives. For example generally, people born in autumn and winter are at increased risk for allergic diseases such as asthma. However, until now, we did not know how the effects can be so long lasting,” said University of Southampton professor John Holloway, author of the study, and quoted in an article published this week on Medical News Today. Indeed, increased risk for many health issues can be correlated with birth season. “A 2015 study, for example, found that 55 diseases correlate with season of birth. Researchers from that study concluded that babies born in October had the worst lifetime risks,” according to the article. (Season of birth linked to allergy risk)

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