child development

toddler playing in water
swong95765 / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I remember playing outside almost every day until the street lights came on.

Riding bikes. Hanging out with friends at the park. Long before tablets and smart phones were a source of entertainment.

But a recent survey of 1,001 parents with kids between ages 4 and 14 found kids today spend much less time playing outside than their parents did.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

About 210,000 kids under age 18 are being raised nationally by more than 122,000 same-sex couples.

And according to a new study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, these kids turn out just as well as kids with heterosexual parents.

Joe Shlabotnik / Fickr

Can’t believe it’s 2015 already? We can’t either.

Here's a rundown of what caught our attention (and yours) most last year. 

Child development

The U.S. Army / Flickr

Many folks who tuned into Jennifer Guerra’s arresting audio documentary on foster care, "Finding Home," wondered how some of the young adults featured, people like Jasmine Uqdah, were able to overcome so much adversity in their young lives. Their success is so statistically unlikely, that numerically and practically it is almost impossible. So what explains it?

Is it grit?


Before Aurora Ducket was even born, her mom Angela signed up for every program she could.

"I did the MOMS program through Spectrum Health," she told me. "I really liked them a lot. They would come to my house. They would listen to the baby’s heartbeat. They would give me pamphlets upon pamphlets of what to expect, different things that I could do." 

Tech & Opportunity: can all kids be "digital natives?"

Nov 22, 2013
Marcus Kwan / Flickr

New technologies are also bringing new anxieties for parents. What is all this screen time doing to children's development? Assuming that just because a baby picks up an iPad or locks you out of your password-protected phone seems for some to be proof that anyone younger is a "digital native" and inherently able to program a DVR.

But, what all this talk about digital natives doesn't take into account are access to technology and the types of technology available to kids across the class spectrum. Some parents are concerned that their kids have too much access to technology. But what about parents who, because of finances, are afraid for their kids who have little to no access to the latest gadgets and learning tools?

If you really want to understand childhood brain development you could read all of the books written by folks like Jack Shonkoff, but for those of us who just want to have a basic understanding of the main points, now all we have to do is watch a video.

Sweden and US child descriptors
The Atlantic / Infogr.am

Reporting on a University of Connecticut study, The Atlantic prettied up data on how parents around the world describe describe their children.

Sarah Harkness and Charles Super, researchers in human development, found that, according to The Atlantic, "Not only are Americans far more likely to focus on their children's intelligence and cognitive skills, they are also far less likely to describe them as 'happy' or 'easy' children to parent." Harkness called this focus nearly obsessive in that it ignores other aspects of early childhood development.

I've been kind of obsessed with neuroscience lately. The study of our brains has made some amazing leaps in the past decade or so, particularly when it comes to how we understand our children's minds. Behind many of those leaps have been advances in brain scans. Scientists have been able to use non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging to study adult brains for some time. But young kids were just too squirmy for the most detailed types of scans. Now, though, scientists are starting to figure out ways to see what's going on in developing brains, regardless of the squirms.