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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Child Trends

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March 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Want better students? Get real about life outside the classroom

Young adults affiliated with Diplomas Now work in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti'esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

Young adults affiliated with Diplomas Now work in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti’esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.

The din surrounding education reform often fails to recognize forces that significantly affect student achievement, but happen outside the classroom. You can strengthen teacher quality, overhaul curricula or throw open the doors to school choice, yet research shows that if kids are frightened, hungry or depressed, they cannot learn as well.

These are austere times, so understanding that common-sense reality is not enough. Legislators want data to justify any funding decision. Into the breach wades Child Trends, a non-partisan nonprofit that for 30 years has been evaluating research on what works for kids.

Last week, the Bethesda, Md., -based think tank released a report measuring the effects of so-called “integrated student supports” — the services that link students to mental health counseling, tutoring, food banks and the like. Such programs are widespread, serving more than 1.5 million young people in nearly 3,000 schools across the country.

The largest, Communities in Schools, operates in more than 2,000 buildings, including Seattle’s.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: attendance, Child Trends, Diplomas Now

December 18, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Tech for tots: Not all bad — or good

Screenshot of the Apptivity Seat, as seen on the Fisher-Price website

Screenshot of the Apptivity Seat, as seen on the Fisher-Price website. The American Council of Pediatrics recommends no TV or video viewing for children under 2, saying the existing studies show it has no benefit and may hinder language development.

Digital media is changing so fast, developmental psychologists have a hard time keeping up with how it affects young children’s learning — especially as kids spend more and more time with screens.

Not much is known about how such media experiences affect infant brains, according to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, director of the Infant and Child Lab at Temple University, who spoke on a recent online panel sponsored by Child Trends, a nonprofit research group.

What they do know: Done well, digital experiences can enhance children’s knowledge and skills. Done poorly, they can hurt.

So before you download yet another so-called educational app — or purchase an “Apptivity Seat,” a controversial new product that pairs an iPad holder with a newborn/toddler seat — here are a few points to consider:

Human beings, especially children, learn best by interacting with other people and the world around them, Hirsh-Pasek said. So a child sitting passively in front of a TV, tablet or other screen … not so good, even though the panelists, as parents themselves, understand that’s hard to avoid all together.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: Apptivity seat, Child Trends, digital media for infants