Monday, June 30, 2014

Anxiety, Stimulant Meds, Common Core Math, More

ADOLESCENCE AND ANXIETY. There's what we think is an interesting and informative opinion piece on anxiety in The New York Times. The author, a professor of psychiatry, explains why teens might be more prone to anxiety. (The explanation involves our old friend the amygdala -- again.) The author also discusses teen risk taking, tying that phenomenon to another quirk of brain development, the maturity of the reward center. This, though, is just the prelude to a discussion of the treatment of anxiety and the role of stimulant medication in possibly making such treatment more difficult. If you have an anxious, teenage child, we think you'll want to read this piece. Find it.

PREVIEW. In the July/August issue of 2e Newsletter, we'll run coverage of a recent conference session on anxiety in gifted children and how parents can help the child experience "healthy" anxiety. Watch for it.

STIMULANT MEDS, CARDIOVASCULAR RISK. There could be a small but significant risk of adverse cardiovascular events in children taking stimulant meds for ADHD, according to the results of a large (700,000 children) Danish study. The results of the study emphasize the clinician's responsibility to screen risk beforehand and monitor treatment. Read more.

COMMON CORE MATH can be frustrating for parents and students alike, leading to a backlash against the standards. Some of the problem is parents' unfamiliarity with the new methods; some is the rush to implement the new curriculum. But for kids with LDs, or those who struggle with written or oral expression, the new math can present additional challenges. And some children are frustrated by having to show all of the steps. For example, to determine how many wheels are in a parking lot occupied by six cars, a student might be required to draw six sets of four, probably not inspiring to a learner who can multiply 
6 times 4 in her head. Read more about the pluses and minuses (no pun intended) of Common Core math.

LANGUAGE, GENDER. Boys and girls evidently learn language differently, with girls depending more on memorizing the proper constructs and boys depending more on invoking "mental grammar rules" to figure out the proper answer to a question testing proper language use. One of the researchers involved in this discovery says, "This fits in with previous research which has identified differences between the sexes when it comes to memorizing facts and events, where girls also seem to have an advantage compared to boys. One interesting aside to this is that as girls often outperform boys at school, it could be that the curriculum is put together in a way which benefits the way girls learn." Read more.

GIFTED ED. Read a spirited rationale for state and federal funding for gifted education, based on the experience of two Kentucky educators with lots of gifted ed credentials. The article, by Tracy Inman and Tracy Cross, provides a picture of how Kentucky compares to other states when it comes to putting money where the gifts are. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Maybe we'll stop writing about whether video games are good or bad for kids' morality and well being. It seems like every time we describe a study that comes to one conclusion, the next week we read a study with contradictory conclusions. This week's study headline: "'Bad' video game behavior increases players' moral sensitivity: May lead to pro-social behavior in real world." That's all we'll say. Read it if you wish.

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