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How our children’s social lives affect their academic success
Having friends teaches our children social and emotional skills that cannot be taught through instruction. But did you know that friendship can also boost academic achievement? Research has consistently shown that friendship and group membership in school is positively related to academic performance. In a 2018 meta-analysis of 22 different scientific studies, Kathryn Wentzel and her research team concluded that “working together with a friend and simply having a friend were related significantly and positively both to cognitive and performance outcomes.” As parents, we can’t control our children’s acceptance by their peers. We can, however, help them develop the social skills necessary to build and maintain friendships. First, parents need to model good social behavior. When talking to your child, it’s important to talk to them in a manner that your child can emulate. This means demonstrating good emotional management by resolving conflicts in a civil, constructive way. Another way parents can teach good social skills is to validate their child’s emotions. This means not trivializing or punishing problematic emotions, but rather talking through your children’s emotions with them so they can better understand and control their feelings. One thing that might be particularly difficult for parents is granting their children the freedom to figure out social relationships. This doesn’t mean disconnecting entirely from your children’s social life, but rather asking questions about their friendships. Ask them what they do with their friends, how they feel about who they hang out with, and what kind of influence those friends are having. We can’t control our kids’ social lives, but we can help our children take stock of their relationships to make the right choices when choosing friends. We can also put our children in enriching social situations where they can develop friendships around positive activities. At JEI, our intimate classroom environment allows our students to build relationships centered around learning. Our Reading & Writing program, in particular, puts children in conversation with each other around classic children’s stories as well as some non-fiction. To enroll your child in our programs, find a JEI Learning Center near you.
Why is it okay to be bad at math?
“I’m bad at math.” It’s something we hear all the time. Often, it’s greeted with knowing smiles and laughs. However, “I’m bad at reading” does not meet such a warm reception. Why is it that we treat literacy as a vital skill that can be worked on while we treat numeracy as a quaint talent that is innate? History of Writing Numbers Although the origins of speech and counting remain relatively unknown, writing of both letters and numbers emerged around the 4th millennium BCE. In ancient Sumer around 3100 BCE, there were dozens of local, incompatible number systems for counting specific things–objects, grain, weights, etc. For the most part, written language and written numbers were largely the province of large ancient institutions–temples, palaces, etc.–which handled things like long-distance trade, taxation, and sacred offerings. The average peasant, largely self-sufficient and rarely interacting with markets, had little need for writing, linguistic or numerical. It wasn’t until the dawn of capitalism that numeracy became a requirement for the average person. Prior to capitalism, the average person had little interaction with markets. Peasants made the food they ate, the clothes they wore, and anything else that they needed for their daily lives. The idea of having a job that provided an income that you would then have to budget was completely anathema to most people prior to capitalism. With capitalism came specialization. Individuals did a particular job for an income that they could spend on the products of the labor of others. Increasingly, individuals made little of what they used in the home, opting to buy instead. This requires not only addition and subtraction to account for individual transactions, but also multiplication and division to calculate income and expenditure over the long run. The Mathematics of Daily Life Dr. Leah Saal and her research team at Loyola University, Maryland have been studying the impact of numeracy skills on employability. In a paper presented at the 2018 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies research conference, Saal and her team demonstrated that numeracy skills were predictive of having no experience with paid work or being long-term unemployed. They also found that these effects were amplified for marginalized groups such as women, older adults, and racial or ethnic minorities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. have weak numeracy skills. To combat this, Saal and her team recommend a number of policies aimed at improving adult education. Among these recommendations are adding numeracy programming to workforce development curricula and making “low levels of numeracy” an identified employment barrier under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act the way that “low levels of literacy” is. Numeracy Skills Start Young While it’s good to acquire numeracy skills at any age, starting early saves on catch up time and lost employability. A 2010 study showed that early numeracy demonstrated in kindergarten predicts performance in first-grade math. Another study found similar results in home and preschool numeracy development’s effect on 3rd-grade performance. Yet another found that preschool numeracy has positive impacts throughout primary school. The research tells us that developing literacy early is paramount to lifetime success. Given that nearly one-third of adults in the US lack numeracy skills, it’s apparent that the school system alone is insufficient for ensuring numeracy. JEI’s Math program, as well as our more advanced Problem Solving Math enrichment program, can set your child up for a future of numeracy and all the benefits that come with it. To get your child started, find a JEI Learning Center near you!
Summertime lunches don't have to be a headache!
Summer’s here and that means no more school lunches. The transition to providing your child a lunch doesn’t have to be a tough one. We talked to Ayelet Goldhaber, a registered dietitian at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone for her insight into providing food for your children during the summer months. Structure Is the Key One of the biggest obstacles to good nutrition over the summer is the likelihood of skipping meals, particularly lunch, as schedules become more flexible and unpredictable. Goldhaber recommends that parents avoid substituting snacks for lunch. “Structure is the key here,” Goldhaber says. “Kids of all ages, from infant to toddler to young adult do well when they know what to expect and when...Not only does lunch often get skipped in the summer, but we are more likely to give in to quick fixes like sugary snacks and drinks to pacify hungry kiddos on the go.” One helpful way to ensure that kids are getting a healthy lunch is to insist on a strict schedule for mealtimes. This ensures a degree of dietary continuity between school and summer. “The key is to always schedule a time for lunch,” Goldhaber explains, “even when activities and daily schedules are changing around you. This will maintain the expectation to eat, just like lunch period at school, and ensure healthy lunch remains a constant over the summer months.” Think in Parts One difficulty in preparing children’s lunches is coming up with what to serve them. Providing a variety of meals may seem like a daunting task, but Goldhaber recommends thinking in terms of parts of lunch rather than trying to plan a full meal. “It is always a good idea to pack a few options...ensuring at least some nutritious food gets in, even if not the whole lunch.” Goldhaber recommends foods that take little effort to prepare. Usually, these foods can be inexpensive. “Think cheese sticks, crust-less sandwiches with a protein-rich filling (nut butter, turkey), already sliced and peeled fruit, and fresh veggies with a fun dip.” Breaking a meal into options can help parents maintain diversity in what’s being served for lunch without much work or money. This approach can also make it easier to ensure that lunches are nutritionally complete. Watch out for Drinks One of the biggest spoilers to your child’s nutrition comes from sugary drinks, especially in the summer. Whether it be at camp, birthday parties, or barbecues, children are constantly being served sugary sodas, lemonades, and iced teas. Goldhaber recommends sticking to flavored water and seltzer for the kid who won’t drink plain water. She also recommends making homemade no sugar lemonade or iced tea with the kids. Preparing food items with your children will not only save you work, but it will also teach them how to prepare healthy food choices for themselves. Food Ideas for Summer One of the biggest difficulties in preparing children’s lunches is ensuring they get a balanced meal that represents all the food groups. To help you out, we have provided a list of healthy and easy to prepare food choices for those summer lunches. No prep - Cheese sticks - Bananas - Apples - Peaches - Apricots - Nectarines - Carrots - Yogurt - Grapes - Berries - Pretzels - Fruit cups -Applesauce -Nuts Little Prep - Celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese - Meat and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich - Cheese and crackers - Oranges - Clementines - Hard-boiled eggs - Sliced cucumber - Melons - Mangoes One-Time Prep - Egg salad - Tuna salad - Potato salad - Coleslaw - Veggie dip - Hummus - Trail mix - Banana bread Beverage Ideas - Cucumber-lemon water - No-sugar lemonade - Iced tea - Strawberry-mint water - Fruit smoothies