Whatever happened to playpens?

The following article at slate.com considers two perspectives on the use of playpens for babies. It also brings to light the amount of stress that we often put on ourselves over childrearing decisions. The link below is definitely worth a read by all parents and will likely make you feel a little better about parenting choices that you still be dwelling on (even though your child forgot!)

Whatever Happened to Playpens?

Common Core Woes…

With the state releasing the broad numbers for the latest New York State ELA & Math state assessments for grades 3-8, the common core curriculum is becoming increasingly popular in the media. A great article was written by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post which highlights many issues surrounding the common core assessments, which can be read below:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/07/what-big-drop-in-new-standardized-test-scores-really-means/

One section that I have found to be a particularly common perspective on this issue is quoted below:

“The bottom line is that there are tremendous financial interests driving the agenda about our schools — from test makers, to publishers, to data management corporations — all making tremendous profits from the chaotic change. When the scores drop, they prosper. When the tests change, they prosper. When schools scramble to buy materials to raise scores, they prosper. There are curriculum developers earning millions to created scripted lessons to turn teachers into deliverers of modules in alignment with the Common Core (or to replace teachers with computer software carefully designed for such alignment).”

While I am 100% for improving the education system in our country, I think it’s a shame that new tests increase parent concerns, teacher anxiety (and, in turn, student anxiety), and a general negative perception of schools.

I have worked in an elementary school for the past 5 years now and I am still shocked by the work that these young children are doing. As a school psychologist, I love data. It’s quick and simple. I can glance at it and get a general idea if something worked or not; however, standardized tests don’t tell us everything that we should know about a student. If your child bombs a state test, that doesn’t mean he or she developed a learning disability overnight. It means a “standardized test” raised the expectations.

If the state and testing companies really cared about our students, they would release the results to parents in a straight-forward approach (Bell Curve, anyone?). Tell me the average range based on the students that took the test, and then tell me where each kid fell on that curve. Were they right in the middle of the pack? Were they at the 13th percentile?

Well, I’m done ranting now. Check out the links below for more information!

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/will-the-new-york-testing-fiasco-fuel-the-anti-testing-movement/

environmental factors contributing to increase in Autism?

The linked article below does a great job summarizing the pros and cons of previous research on “causes” of autism.

It also shares new nationwide findings on the possible impact of environmental pollutants (i.e., diesel exhaust) on autism prevalence.

As I have worked with children from ages 3 to 12 over the past 5 years, I urge everyone to take caution in the findings of any research in this area. I have now seen multiple cases where children were diagnosed with some form of autism, only to have that diagnosis removed or changed (which should NEVER be the case) These include children with ADHD, and vision or hearing impairments. These cases unfairly increase that 1 in 50 rate that we are now hearing.

It should also be noted that autism truly is a broad spectrum and, from an educational perspective, we need to focus on the supporting needs of an individual, not naming a diagnosis.

http://counsellingresource.com/features/2013/08/05/environmental-links-autism/

Developmental Milestones

Are you (or parents you know) worried about your child keeping up with “typical” developmental milestones? Do you know what is actually expected of a child at 2 months? 6 months? 1 year?

Check out the following CDC Developmental Milestones .pdf for more information; but keep in mind: not all children follow a “normal” developmental pathway. Some children may take longer to achieve particular milestones and then make quick growth, etc.

Hope this helps answer some of those questions and ease some worries out there!

CDC developmental milestones