New Study Shows the Importance of Naps for Children 10-12 Years Old

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I have written before about the importance of children getting enough sleep.  

A recent study underscores how crucial naps are especially for children ages 10 to 12 years old.

The website Science Daily publishes the latest science research news.  On May 31, 2019, it published an article with the results of a study of 3,000 children ages 10 to 12 (4th to 6th graders) by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine.  The study’s summary is as follows:

Children who nap 30 to 60 minutes midday at least three times a week are happier, have more self-control and grit, and showcase fewer behavioral problems, according to new research. These children also have higher IQs and excel academically.

For children in grade 6, the researchers found the greatest impact academically.  One of the researchers commented: "Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6.  How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?"

The article discusses the differences between the attitudes toward napping in the US and China.  In the US, napping is not encouraged as children grow older.  However, in China, napping is a part of everyday life from early childhood and even into adulthood. 

Incorporating naps during school time can be done.  Another researcher commented:  "The midday nap is easily implemented, and it costs nothing, particularly if accompanied by a slightly later end to the day, to avoid cutting into educational time. Not only will this help the kids, but it also takes away time for screen use, which is related to a lot of mixed outcomes.”

To read the entire study, please CLICK HERE.

The Harmful Effects of Plastic on Our Children’s Health

More and more studies are showing the dangers that the use of plastic is having on our health.  As parents, our concern is the effects on our children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report and policy statement in August, 2018 detailing the hazards to our children’s health posed by chemicals in plastic and making recommendations to assist persons in the health field and parents as to how to reduce exposure to these dangerous chemicals.  It found that “food insecurity remains a substantial child health concern”.

According to the report, increasing amounts of diseases and disabilities are being linked to harmful chemicals in plastic.  For example, the chemical bisphenol A or BPA has been frequently used since the 1960s in manufacturing plastic but research has shown the negative health effects it has. “BPA has recently been banned from infant bottles and plastic beverage containers are increasingly designated as BPA free. However, BPA and related compounds are still used in polymeric resin coatings to prevent metal corrosion in food and beverage containers.”  Be aware that, even though BPA may not be used in the plastic of a specific item, there are closely related chemical alternatives now being used that show similar negative health effects. 

The report lists many other chemicals and additives in food that pose harm to children.  Please read it for a good understanding of how these chemicals are shown to negatively affect our bodies.

The Academy’s policy statement is very helpful as well as it contains many practical recommendations such as:

• Avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic;

• Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher;

• Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible; and

• Look at the recycling code on the bottom of products to find the plastic type, and avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware,” indicating that they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.

One other practical recommendation is drinking tap water rather than bottled water.   As for us parents, isn’t that so much easier, as you simply have to fill a glass or bottle from the tap?

Unfortunately, it is predicted that the use of plastics will quadruple by 2050.  That’s a sad testimony for us!

To read the full report and policy statement, please visit:

The Walking Classroom Successfully Promotes Exercise and Learning

I love to write about promoting learning and exercise for children.  Have you heard about The Walking Classroom, an award-winning national program initiated by a teacher and that is now sponsored by a nonprofit organization?  If you haven’t, let me tell you about this amazing program.

It was developed by Laura Fenn, M.S. Ed, who was a 5th grade teacher.  She observed that children in her classroom who were more active performed better academically.   She put together a program called Walk, Listen and Learn, and saw her students’ academic performances improve by the end of the year.  Before long, she expanded her program to different grade levels and promoted it nationwide.   

According to its website www.thewalkingclassroom.org, the program is for students in grades 3 to 8.  They take short walks of up to 20 minutes with walk-kit devices.  On the devices are up to 167 podcasts, each beginning with a brief  message on a health conscious topic and then subjects on English language, arts, social science, and much more.  There is even a series of podcasts for STEM.  All the podcasts meet nationally-approved standards. 

Teachers are provided with lesson plans and quizzes.  For students who need special attention, The Walking Classroom provides teachers with instructions for children who have ADHD, dyslexia, and autism.

Its website is filled with information about the program as well as how to participate.Please take a few minutes and look at what it has to offer.Many students will benefit from this type of teaching tool and it would be worthwhile to investigate all that this program has to offer.

Eating a Healthy Breakfast is Connected to Good Academic Performance

The beginning of a new school year is always challenging for parents and children.  We parents usually have different concerns than our children as we center our attention on how to assist them with doing well in all aspects of school.  Yet, we share with them the goal of good academic performance.  Science has shown that a child who starts the day with a good breakfast is already leaps ahead in performing well in school.

According to an online article on the website for the National Center for Biotechnical Information/National Institutes of Health, the importance of a healthy breakfast cannot be overstated yet it is the most frequently skipped meal, with 20% to 30% of children skipping it.

Studies “generally demonstrate that eating breakfast has a positive effect on children's cognitive performance, particularly in the domains of memory and attention.” Children who eat breakfast have an increase in cognitive performance, meaning an increase in attention skills so that they can perform their lessons well. This also translates to an ability to attend school regularly and remember information that is taught.  Additionally, their behavior in class is dramatically affected because they can concentrate better and perform the necessary tasks.

It is important for us to understand that children’s brains are developing and are different than those of adults.  The article points out that children have a higher brain glucose metabolism than adults.  “To maintain this higher metabolic rate, a continuous supply of energy derived from glucose is needed, hence breakfast consumption may be vital in providing adequate energy for the morning.”

Not only does breakfast assist a child academically, but it also helps the child to maintain proper body weight.  Children who skip are more likely to be overweight and not eat healthy snacks or satisfy the recommended daily vegetable and fruit intake.  Not surprising is the connection between skipping breakfast and “risky behaviors” such as smoking and experimenting with alcohol and drugs.

Plan for healthy breakfasts ahead of time.  Make them easy and fun.  There are plenty of books and online articles with suggested recipes.  Give your children the important start for their school day and help them reach their goals of academic success.

To learn more, go to:

Tweak Family Recipes to Make Them Healthier

Many of us have family recipes from grandparents, uncles, aunts or other relatives that have become family traditions.  Unfortunately, most are filled with unhealthy ingredients – lots of oil, butter or sugar, just to name a few.  Preserving these recipes are, nevertheless, important for us as part of our family heritage.  I have written before about having children assist with cooking meals to encourage more family bonding time and as well as for them to read more as they learn to follow written recipes.  Today, I would like to discuss teaching your children healthier options for recipes as part of your family cooking experiences.

On his website, Dr. Joseph Galati, founder of Your Health First Education, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide education and support to the public about nutrition, has an article Tweaking Grandma’s Recipes: Healthy Substitutes, which has many suggestions for substitutions.  For butter, oil and margarine in recipes that involve baking, he recommends using applesauce or mashed fruit. For frying, grilling or sautéing, he recommends substituting one-half with olive oil or coconut oil.  For regular sugar, try substituting one-half with locally sourced honey.  For brown sugar, he suggests adding 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the honey.  For mayonnaise in recipes, substitute plain yogurt.  On a sandwich, try pesto or drizzles of olive oil.  Dr. Galati has many more recommendations and I encourage you to read his entire article.

Traditional family meals bring families together to continue bonding and building life-long friendships.  Substituting more healthy ingredients will keep these traditions alive and be teachable moments for your children.  

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Be Sure to Have Your Children Vaccinated in Time for the Coming School Year

Are your children up to date with their vaccinations? As the new school year is about to begin, it is critical for us as parents to make sure that our children have the required vaccinations.  We should prepare them for that day as well.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has established five important reasons for children to be vaccinated as follows:

1.    Immunizations can save your child’s life;

2.    Vaccinations are very safe and effective;

3.    Immunizations protect others whom you care about;

4.    Immunizations can save your family time and money; and

5.    Immunization protects future generations.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also has a website page with information that will assist parents with preparing their children for vaccination day.   It suggests to pack a book or a toy for a young child to comfort him.  With older children, speak to them about the importance of vaccinations and be honest with them, letting them know that shots do sting a bit, but only for a while. 

Please do prepare your children for that visit.  I remember one visit with my youngest son James when he was about 5 years old.  My late husband and I took him to the pediatrician for his usual annual checkup before school started but unfortunately, we did not prepare him for the visit.  Unbeknownst to any of us, he had to get not just one, but several shots during that visit.  After the first shot, James jumped off the examination table and ran and hid under the doctor’s desk, crying.   We all finally made it through the rest of the shots, but it was truly an ordeal.  Needless to say, that was the most memorable visit to the doctor that we ever had with him!

The bottom line is that vaccinations are crucial for your children’s good health and must not be overlooked.  Planning and preparing for that day will help everyone to get through it.

Read more by clicking one of these links:

Singing Helps Your Children’s Development

(Photo of the children’s group Lake Norman Singers)

After recently reading a newspaper article about how singing is beneficial for adults, I thought that it must have many more benefits for children.  I did some research and this week’s blog is about just that.   Children love to sing and singing helps their intellectual and emotional development in many different ways.

The advantages of having children sing are explained: 

  1. Singing helps a child improve his vocabulary by learning new words.  Experts say that parents should start from when the child is very young, as singing nursery rhymes and simple songs can be a foundation upon which words are built.

  2. For young children, it helps them learn to communicate by exercising lip and tongue movement.

  3. It helps develop the “memory muscle” – when your child is learning a song, tunes and words are being embedded in your child’s mind.

  4. It helps develop creativity.  Your child can create songs about anything and anyone. Make the words rhyme or not.  There is no limit to what type of song can be written and sung.

  5. It helps your child develop self-confidence.  As your child practices a new song with both words and tunes, she will become more confident as she masters it.

  6. When your child sings with a group, it helps him to develop better social skills as he will be learning and building friendships at the same time.

The websites listed below give parents and caregivers many tips as to how to encourage singing.  They range from singing before bedtime or just making up songs while you are at home to looking for singing classes or a group in which your children can participate.  Make it fun.  Your children will enjoy themselves and learn at the same time. 

For more information, please visit these websites:

Parents - Be Aware of the Dangers of E-Cigarette Use by Youth

On December 18, 2018, the Surgeon General of the United States Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams issued a public health advisory on the dangers of e-cigarette use.  He called the use among our youth “an epidemic” and asks all of  us to step up and help protect our children from this major public health threat.

According to the Advisory, e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007 and since 2014, are the most widely used tobacco product by youth.  In 2018, use grew by 20.8% so that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes.  These cigarettes come in different shapes, sizes and flavors and have become very attractive to youth, especially with so much effective advertising geared toward the youth.  It is also important to know that, in addition to using various flavors, marijuana is being used in e-cigarettes too.  

The Surgeon General warned that e-cigarette aerosol can be harmful as it usually has nicotine, which is an addictive drug.  “Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.”

He refers to this growing use as a “public health epidemic” and asks us assist in the fight to protect our children.  The Advisory provides helpful information as to what can be done by parents, teachers, health professionals, as well as government entities. 

The Advisory ends with the following: “KNOW THE RISKS. TAKE ACTION. PROTECT OUR KIDS.”

To read the full advisory, CLICK HERE.

For other interesting articles on the dangers of e-cigarettes, visit: