Posts Tagged ‘University of Wisconsin-Madison’

Absent-Minded Kids Are Smarter: Study

March 18, 2012

For an absent-minded teacher like myself, this is very encouraging news. To think that we could be smarter, regardless of whether we know what day it is or recall what our passwords are, is surprising to say the least:

Is your child absent-minded? You should feel happy, for a new study says that it may well be a sign that the kid is intelligent. Researchers have found that children who have wandering minds actually have sharper brains — in fact, those who are constantly distracted are able to hold far more information than their diligent peers.

The study has shown that those who appear to be constantly distracted have more “working memory”, giving them the ability to do two things at the same time, the Daily Mail reported.

Those who appear to be constantly distracted have more “working memory”.

Participants in the study had to either press a button in response to the appearance of a certain letter on a screen, or tap in time with their breath. The researchers checked periodically to ask if their minds were wandering.

At the end, they measured the participants’ working memory capacity, giving them a score for their ability to remember a series of letters interspersed with easy maths questions.

Daniel Levinson of University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study, said those with higher working memory capacity reported “more mind wandering during these simple tasks” even though their performance was not compromised.

The results are the first to show the association with mind wandering and intelligence. It is thought the extra mental workspace is used, for instance, when adding up two spoken numbers without being able to write them down. Its capacity has been associated with general measures of intelligence, such as reading comprehension and IQ score.

I could sit here and show-off about these findings but I’m too busy trying to find my darn car keys …. again!

The Role of Teacher in Helping Students Deal With Divorce

June 5, 2011

 

In a previous post I observed that:

It is my opinion that while divorce is a fact of life and that in most cases there is nobody to blame, it is quite distressful for the child.  The fact that it is common and has also effected other classmates provides next to no comfort for the child.  I believe that when a child’s parents separate the teacher must refer the matter to the school councillor (if the school has one), and spend more time with child building their confidence and displaying patience when the child plays up or has difficulty completing a task.  It is not sufficient to wait until the child shows signs of anxiety or rebellion.  The time to initiate support is straight away.

Now we find just how difficult it is for kids academically:

Young children of divorce are not only more likely to suffer from anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness, they experience long-lasting setbacks in interpersonal skills and math test scores, new research suggests.

Children do not fall behind their peers in these areas during the potentially disruptive period before their parents divorce, the study revealed. Instead, it’s after the split that kids seem to have the most trouble coping.

“Somewhat surprisingly, children of divorce do not experience detrimental setbacks in the pre-divorce period,” noted study author Hyun Sik Kim, a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “From the divorce stage onward, however, children of divorce lag behind in math test scores and interpersonal social skills.”

“Children of divorce also show enhanced risk of internalizing problem behaviors characterized by anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness,” Kim said.

While the negative impacts do not continue to worsen several years after the divorce, “there is no sign that children of divorce catch up with their counterparts, either,” he added.

The study is published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review.

In the study, Kim discussed how the fallout from divorce might harm childhood development.

Children may be stressed by an ongoing parental blame game or child custody conflicts. This stress could be compounded by the loss of stability when a child is shuttled between separate households or has to move to another region altogether, thus losing contact with his or her original network of friends.

In fact, Kim observed a dramatic change in family locations, suggesting that children of divorce were more likely to change schools.

Parents’ divorce-related depression might also play a role, as could economic strains when family income suddenly drops, he said.

In his research, Kim analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study on 3,600 children who entered kindergarten in 2008.

The children were tracked through fifth grade. Over that time, Kim compared children whose parents had gotten divorced while the child was in the first, second or third grade with the children of intact marriages.

While divorce is an unfortunate fact of life for many adults and their kids, it is crucial that teachers play a supportive role, offering appropriate care and displaying patience and sensitivity at all times.  Just because it happens frequently, doesn’t make it any easier for those involved to adjust to and overcome.

 


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