Friday, September 30, 2011

How Does Childcare Effect Early Childhood Development?

A recent study finds that differences in the type of childcare children receive has little to no effect on development.

After having a baby, full-time working parents will get some maternity and/or paternity time off, but what happens when that time is up? Parents are often faced with a difficult decision—return to work, or take their baby to a childcare center. Even if the parents can afford the high cost of childcare, some parents are concerned that childcare from such an early age may negatively impact their child’s development. Luckily, that’s not the case.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recently conducted a study and produced a report entitled Childcare up to 18 months. Relations between child care up to 18 months and language skills and mental function at five years. Researchers looked at the effects of childcare centers vs. being at home in regards to language skills, language-related difficulties and psychological function.

According to the report, language skills and psychological function were not affected, whether they used one type of childcare, a combination of childcare arrangements, how many hours a week they were in childcare, or if they were home.

"For most children there is no evidence from our findings to suggest that it is harmful to begin in centre-based childcare at 12 months," said Synnve Schjølberg, researcher and specialist in clinical psychology. "The small effect sizes of the findings indicate that the differences between children attending childcare at an early age and those starting later have no clinical implications for most children,” she explained.

“Neither do the findings suggest that most children who are cared for at home up to 18 months of age are better prepared than children cared for by others in the same period. The findings don’t suggest that most children who are cared for at home are better prepared than children cared for by others in the same period,”said Schjølberg.

While there were some children, mainly boys, slightly affected behaviorally, the group was very small, and it could have been because of any number of variables, such as poor childcare services. However, any significant differences that were identified were with a very small group.

Share your thoughts and personal experiences with childcare by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tadpoles Childcare Management Apps Get Updated

Childcare management apps Tadpoles and Tapoles Pro are updated, and now available in the app store.

It seems like just yesterday that we updated the Tadpoles and Tadpoles Pro apps with daily reports, but we’re constantly looking for new ways to improve in order to make teachers and parents have an easier, more organized life.

The latest release of the Tadpoles and Tadpoles Pro Apps is now available in the app store and features:
  • New user interface
  • Daily Reports for iPad
  • New Child Profile Layout
  • Full of high res photo's and videos
  • Faster daily reports, attendance and photo capture
Parents are loving the ability to get photos and videos of their children while they are at daycare. Allison, a mother said, “I just wanted to quickly thank you for the wonderful pictures of Sophia that you sent via Tadpoles. Seeing her happy in her school environment gave my husband and me the confidence that she is doing well and having fun at school. We also love how convenient the application is for receiving reminders and updates concerning my daughter's class.”

Learn what other parents are saying here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

iPads: Is Kindergarten too Early?

Schools in Maine, among other states, have launched iPad programs in kindergarten classrooms, but is that too early?

We recently discussed how iPads aren’t just for adults—there are a lot of fun apps designed specifically for early childhood education.

While some are saying the iPad is the "childrens toy of the year," others wouldn’t exactly call a $500 electronic item a child’s toy. In order to appease parents on a budget, companies have developed tablets for kids, but really, it’s only saving about $100 or less depending on which model you get.

All this to beg the questions—should iPads be used in early childhood education? Aside from being used by early childhood education staff to keep track of student information, there are many parents who are against iPads being used as an educational tool for their children. In fact, when iPads were going to be used in kindergarten classrooms, parents fought back, causing quite the debate. Parents started a Facebook Group. and the subject of the debate ultimately got national coverage

One parent, whose son was about to start kindergarten, does not think he’s ready.“iPads could easily lead to a tune-out of peer or teacher instruction in the classroom, because they have this new tool in front of them. My son does speech therapy, he does occupational therapy. He needs to be working on communicating with his peers and engaging with them. Not just being distracted by this instrument in his hand.” It seems as if adults can barely balance socializing and mobile technology, so how can we expect kindergarteners too?

So, do you think kindergarten is too early to use the iPad as an educational tool in the classroom? Why or why not? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do Men Change After Becoming Fathers?

Findings indicate men’s testosterone levels lower after becoming fathers in order to serve as better caregivers.

A recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the level of testosterone in men actually decreases after being in a stable relationship and becoming fathers. Thus, men, like women are “wired” to shift their priorities and focus on caregiving.

Christopher Kuzawa, associate professor of biological anthropology at Northwestern and co-author of the study said, “It has been known for some time that fathers in many cultures have lower testosterone levels than non-fathers. However, because past studies investigated these relationships as a single snapshot, they were not able to establish whether fatherhood lowers testosterone, or whether men who had lower testosterone to begin with were more likely to become fathers.”

The researcher also suggests that it is possible that men with a higher amount of testosterone are more self-confident or competitive, making them more attractive to potential partners. However, once a partner is attained, testosterone declines because behaviors that relate to high testosterone may conflict with effective care giving.

While fathers had lower testosterone than non-fathers, fathers of newborns had the lowest amount, suggesting that there is a large, but temporary, decline after the birth of their child. For centuries, men have been portrayed as the hunters and providers, while mothers were responsible for childcare, but this study proves that fathers are also made to adjust for childcare.

While the study did not focus on specific effects on behavior, I’m wondering if anyone can speak to how they, or their significant other, changed after becoming a father. Share your story by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Child Care Costs Continue to Rise

A recent study suggests that the cost of child care in some states is higher than the cost of attending a public university.

Starting a college fund when your child is born was always a good idea for parents of children in generation X, but now, with more working moms and childcare costs sometimes greater than college tuition, it seems next to impossible.

A study recently conducted by the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) found that annual child care costs are more expensive than a year of college tuition at a public university in 36 US states.

While parents agree that they would rather pay more for better child care, high costs are definitely hurting their wallets. For infant daycare in Washington, DC, parents will spend $18,200 a year on average. At a national level, child care costs have increased by 1.9% and continue to rise. Find the average cost of child care in your city here.

However, if parents are going to have to pay top dollar for daycare services in their city, it’s important that they receive top services. Parents that send their child to daycares that use the Tadpoles Pro app can enjoy updates and photos of their little ones throughout the day, providing a constant reminder that the high cost is worth it.

One mom, Dawn, wrote in saying, “I just wanted to tell you I love getting tadpoles updates of Michael. It has been so wonderful to see moments of him that I have missed during the day. Might I add especially if it's a rough day it brings such a big smile to my face. Thank you and the wonderful staff at the Academy for taking such excellent care of Michael. We appreciate you all so much. And I appreciate Tadpoles! Have a wonderful afternoon!”

Any parent would agree that being able to capture the missed moments of their child is priceless, so if there must be a high price on child care, you may as well get your moneys worth. Refer your child care provider to the Tadpoles pro app and learn more about what Tadpoles can do for parents.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tips from Teachers… for Parents!

For teachers, parents can sometimes be more frustrating than students. Discover how, as a parent, you can keep both your child and their teacher happy!

In honor of back to school, Good Housekeeping recently released an article geared toward parents entitled, “What Teachers Wish You Knew.”

While the article stresses parent involvement, here’s some highlights from the tips:

Don't Be A Stranger
Parents should talk to their child’s teacher early in the year… there’s no need to wait until “back-to-school night.” By connecting early, you can find out the best way to contact him/her in the future, and shed light on any family information, such as a recent death, that may be affecting schoolwork. Many teachers use e-mail, and some even use childcare management technology, so it’s easy to stay in touch! Volunteering for class events and field trip chaperoning is also a great way to connect.

Learning Doesn't Stop After School
Once your child gets home from school, encourage him/her to show you something they worked on that day, rather than simply asking, “what did you do today,” and getting the age-old “nothing” response. Showing rather than telling will create more of a link between school and home, and give your child the opportunity to show off a bit, building confidence. If it seems to be a light homework night, there’s a lot of afterschool activities you can do with your child to continue the learning process.

Mistakes Are Ok
Don't put too much pressure on your child to get every assignment perfectly right—teachers like students that try hard and grow through learning. It’s ok for kids to get some questions wrong, especially since teachers use this information to see what material needs to be covered again.

For larger assignments, a hands-off approach is best. Teachers do not want to see perfectly created posters that were clearly done by the hand of a parent. Allowing your child to do the work on his/her own creates a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Learn how to best help your child with homework here.

Stay Involved
As your child gets older, it’s expected that they will be taking more advanced classes, but just because you don’t know a subject that way, doesn’t mean you can’t support your child’s efforts. Moral support is still helpful, even if you did flunk physics. Teachers don’t expect parents to be an expert on every subject, just being involved and keeping students motivated is enough.

The Teacher's On Your Side
A lot of parents will get defensive if their child is behaving poorly. But, it’s important to recognize that the teacher is not trying to pick on your child. Parents need to get all the facts before they react and be partners rather than prosecutors. Even great teachers and principals sometimes leave the profession, despite their love of children, because of unruly parents.

Keep Your Child Organized
When it comes time to send permission slips and tests home, it’s important that parents help their children return it by staying organized. Rather than letting a signed document end up crumpled up, have your child empty his/her backpack each night and provide a place, such as a vibrant folder, for transporting signed papers to and from school. Also, make sure your child has all of the supplies needed to do their work at school.

Say Thank You
Going back to not being a stranger, if you feel a teacher is truly doing a good job and influencing your child for the better, take the time to say thanks! A quick phone call or e-mail is all it takes.

Teachers: What are some other tips for parents to best support you and their children in the classroom?

How do you plan on supporting your child throughout the school year?
Let us know by commenting below, or posting on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ann Coulter Calls Kindergarten Teachers “Useless Public Sector Workers”

During a recent appearance, Coulter made this shockingly controversial statement.

If someone told you that kindergarten teachers were “useless public sector workers,” would you agree? Ann Coulter, the ultra-conservative social and political commentator, would—she recently made this statement on yesterday’s episode of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”

The comment spawned from Jimmy Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union after he made an out of line remark regarding workers fighting back against the tea party.

Ann Coulter went on to say, “They used to be truck drivers and pipefitters. Now he’s [Hoffa] representing public school teachers? Kindergarten teachers? Cafeteria workers? Fighting for every last bit of their government pension? What a pathetic downfall!” Coulter’s statement became even more controversial when she said, You know: ‘Real jobs for real men’ — as opposed to kindergarten teachers. … He’s not even representing men who have actual jobs. He’s representing a bunch of useless public sector workers.”

And there you have it, Coulter called kindergarten teachers, the people that shape our children’s minds in early childhood development and for the future, were useless. When co-host Gretchen Carlson said, “I don’t want to say that teachers are useless,” Coulter snapped back:

No? I will. They are government workers. Let’s turn it over to private [schools], to vouchers, to charter schools. No, they fight for every last dime. They get summers off. They’re off at two [o'clock] and they make more money than most of those pipefitters who no longer have jobs.

Remember, this isn’t the first time someone in the political realm had controversial feelings toward early childhood education. While most dismissed Coulter's ramblings, some actually agreed.

Whether you’re conservative or liberal, teacher or not, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Coulter’s controversial statement—comment below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.