Is it safe to return to school on June 1st? Mixed feelings run high as K-12 students and staff head back to school part-time next week. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It is important for you to weigh all factors and to make the decision you believe is best for your family. [Read more…]
Welcome to our Kid's Health Blog by School is Easy Tutoring
Yes, we're a tutoring company. But our kid's health blog is exactly the type of thing we care about, because it affects a child's growth, human experience, and even their education. Visit this section of our education blog for more on topics relating to the physical and mental health of kids and teens.
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Parents and students alike frequently have a tough time dragging their exhausted bodies out of bed on a Monday morning. Feeling fresh, awake and rejuvenated for the upcoming school week is vital to a student’s success. We hope to help them achieve this by offering these 5 tips on beating the Monday Blues. [Read more…]
If you thought child beauty pageants happened mostly in United States, you may be surprised to know that they are actually quite popular in Canada too. Miss All Canadian Pageant is one of the biggest in the country. As indicated on their website, anyone from 0 to 20+ years old can be registered in their beauty pageant. Self-esteem, confidence and social growth are some of the core values they say children will walk away with after participating in their beauty pageant. So do kids actually benefit from participating in beauty pageants or are there more negative effects associated with this practice?
Child beauty pageants give kids a superficial view on beauty
Based on a short documentary by CBC, ‘natural beauty’ may not be enough for a child to win a beauty pageant. Yes, there are dresses, costumes, and makeup, as we’d expect. But children may also get wigs, spray-tans, and even get their pictures re-touched. The message children may get is that, in order to be liked, they need to be beautiful. But in order to be beautiful enough, they need to accentuate how they naturally look. They are not being taught that all children can be beautiful based on many other reasons other than physical appearance.
Psychology Today points out that any activity focusing on what a child looks like, can have a long-lasting effect on body image once they get to their teens. Issues may be carried even into adulthood. Some may suffer from eating disorders, perfectionism, and depression.
Child beauty pageants teach kids that success is based on looks and how others perceive them
One view on beauty pageants is that they teach children that success (winning a trophy or a crown in this case), is very much related to how they look. Yes, there is a talent portion to the pageant. But they still need to look beautiful while performing. And even showcasing a talent may not truly be what the child is good at. It may be what the parent thinks will win the judges over.
So in the end, the child’s view on success may not even be related to who they are, what they like, or what they are good at. Instead success becomes attainable only when parents and in some cases coaches shape them to their liking.
Children may also internalize the concept of perfectionism. They are trained to perform in a certain way and to not only do their best, but do it perfectly. Not only does this put huge pressure on kids, but it may teach them that whatever they do is not good enough, unless they win.
Child beauty pageants sexualize girls in particular
From the CBC documentary on child beauty pageants linked to above, we can see some parents who choose their girls’ costumes appropriate to their age. However, as some note, the overall trend of these beauty pageants is on portraying sexy rather than cute. So, we end up seeing little girls dressed in skimpy clothing that hardly covers their underdeveloped body. They will then parade like ‘sexy’ super-models. They may even showcase provocative routines during the talent show. According to the American Psychological Association, sexualizing girls can lead to depression, low-self esteem, shame and anxiety, and eating disorders, among others.
As stirred up by the comedian John Oliver, the idea of beauty pageants still being in existence is dated and one of the “weirdest” things on television (as he says it). In his video, he rants with the undertone that we should acknowledge strides feminism has taken in the last couple of decades. Are we still living in a world where we give women points, and have men judge them, based on their physical image?
Admittedly, John Oliver’s other major point in his rant was about the financial management of the Miss America Pageant rewards. But the point in this article is that his talk was about adult pageants. Taking his points and applying them to child pageants could multiply the seriousness of the situation to some skeptics.
In 2013, France banned child beauty pageants. The country also put restrictions on under-weight models, following the pattern of similar rules in Israel and other countries. But for the most part in North America, child beauty pageants are still popular.
When considering whether to enrol children in a beauty pageant, it may be worth thinking about the possible long-term effects mentioned in this article. After all, we are all concerned about the healthy development of our children.
The World Health Organization recently declared processed meat as carcinogenic as cigarettes and alcohol. There have been a number of media reports on this statement, as well as some rebuttals on how this may not entirely be the case. All the flurry of debate and discussion about this topic has highlighted one fact — food and nutrition is a big deal. For example, when it comes to education, it’s very hard to do well in school if children don’t have a baseline of good health. Yet, this seems to be the case for many kids in Canada — according to Health Canada statistics, about one in three kids under 17 are overweight or obese. Indeed, in an interview with the Tyee.ca, one health advocacy group said that our country is facing a “health crisis.” So with all this in mind, we’re going to be tackling kids’ health and nutrition today.
Who’s responsible for kids’ health and nutrition at school? Schools or parents?
Some may suggest that schools bear responsibility for keeping students healthy. However, the reality is that parents will have to depend on themselves if they want to guarantee that their kids have a good lunch. Many of our schools offer lunch programs, but Canada is the only G7 country to have no national student lunch program.
That suggests the quality of lunch for students can vary widely depending on the family, or the province’s lunch programs. Some may be great, while others not so much.
The first Tyee.ca article we mentioned above says that at least in B.C., food programs have generally been aimed at giving underprivileged kids access to meals. But that article says a school-wide nutrition program was not the primary focus. The article suggests the goal was on supplying food, but not necessarily making kids eat right.
With that in mind, if your child is in a school that provides or sells food, and you are concerned about their nutrition, check and ask your school about their lunch program or cafeteria options. If you feel your kids aren’t getting fed properly, it would be wise to educate your children yourself. This will help them make wise nutritional decisions at school. For example, they may think twice before buying junk food from school vending machines.
Baby steps are a great way to teach kids health and nutrition
For the next part of the article, we’re going to assume that you’ve taught your kids the very basics of the food pyramid. If you haven’t, then we’d advise you do so! That being said, we will now focus on how to make dietary changes that last.
Forcing kids to stop eating junk food immediately is a plan that sometimes can be too hard to stick to. Some kids may stop for a little while, only to binge when given a chance to eat sweets. Others may simply start sneaking in candies when parents aren’t looking. Anyone who’s tried out a radical diet and exercise plan will know how difficult dieting can be for adults, let alone kids!
The best changes are often done in slow, incremental, and consistent steps. We’d like to use the example of Leo Babauta, who was listed by TIME magazine as a top 25 blogger for his site, Zen Habits. He went from being an overweight, sedentary smoker to a marathon-running vegetarian. Perhaps one of his best tips is to make very small, but permanent and consistent exercise and diet changes.
For example, if you want your kids to eat healthy, start by gradually increasing the amount of greens that they eat while subtracting the amount of sweets they consume.
As far as getting the food into the mouths of picky kids, helpguide.org has some practical suggestions. For instance, involving kids in the creation of meals is a big help. According to the site, kids are often more receptive to eating food if they had a hand in cooking or preparing it. Give kids simple tasks like cutting carrots. If a safety is a concern, there are children-friendly knives and kitchen tools that you can find online. Curiouschef.com is one example.
Regarding exercise, if it is impossible for your kids to wake up every day to run before school, have them run around the block for 5 minutes after they get home. Or if that’s too hard, get them to do five push-ups a day and leave it at that. Then, gradually increase the amount of exercise they do.
Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small
Yes, it is true this gradual method will take a lot of time. But the important thing is that these changes can be easier to maintain in the long run. There is no use in attempting to lose 50 pounds in a month only to gain it back after ‘falling off the wagon.’
Also, it is important to recognize progress. Make sure you use plenty of positive reinforcement to encourage your kids to stick to their changed habits, no matter how small. This will help them develop patience and determination — both of which are necessary to achieving any goals in life.
As parents, we have to understand that there are a variety of hurdles students face in school. One of these potential obstacles in the classroom is colour blindness. While it might not be as high-profile in the media as learning challenges such as autism or attention deficit disorder, colour blindness can be a problem that parents and teachers should be aware of. So today, we’ll discuss some ideas on how to help kids with colour blindness.
Why should we be concerned if our child is colour blind?
We often don’t notice it because we take it for granted, but colours are often a key tool used for learning in the classroom. Many images, notes and charts often have a colour key or use different shades of colour to demonstrate a lesson. For example, subjects such as biology can be quite reliant on using diagrams to communicate complex concepts. A task as simple as creating labels for a science project can become a daunting and complex exercise for someone who is colourblind. If children are following along with a set of colour-coded instructions, they can easily fall behind if they cannot differentiate between colours. That’s why it is often a good idea to lend an extra hand to kids with colour blindness.
It’s wise to receive training that will help you spot kids with colour blindness
That’s because you may be the only one on the lookout for this condition. According to colourblindawareness.org, most teachers do not receive any training to spot colour-blind students. In fact, the same article says it is probable at least one child per classroom in the United Kingdom is colourblind, averaging about 450,000 students in that country.
How to spot colour blindness in students
Try examining the areas in which your children might be struggling. For example, if you notice that one of your kids seems to always be behind in a class that is heavily reliant on visual learning, you may want to observe him or her more closely. As a quick side note, we’ve covered learning styles before in this blog, so you can check that out if you want to know exactly what we mean by visual learning.
Also, keep in mind that there are different types of colourblindness, which you should be familiar with. We suggest reading the above article to get familiar with the different ‘families’ of this condition which include — but may not be limited to — red-green colourblindness, blue-yellow colourblindness, and complete colourblindness. This knowledge will help you understand that depending on the colours being shown, your child may or may not exhibit signs of colourblindness.
There are also online tests which can help you figure what, if any, type of colourblindness your students may have. However, please keep in mind that these tools are not intended to replace professional advice from a family doctor or optometrist. If you suspect your child has this condition, do not diagnose him or her yourself. See a professional.
What are the next steps if your kids have colourblindness?
If you have children diagnosed with this condition, it would probably be best to consult with the school they are attending. For instance, on their website, the provincial government suggests asking teachers to seat students who are colourblind in glare-free spots in the classroom. Another idea suggested by the site is to use chalk that will ‘stand out’ better to a person with colour blindness. Perhaps most important is to realize that the difficulties that colourblind kids encounter can be alleviated by adapting their environments. For example, written instead of colour-coded labels would be of better use to a colourblind student.
Music is all around us. Every time we turn on the TV, see a movie, or go to a store, there’s a good chance there’s background music playing. And of course, that’s not even including the times when we actively seek out music to listen to! Research has found that music affects our brains and behaviour in powerful ways. For example, did you know that music can have an influence on how much money we spend at a store? So for today’s post, we’ll examine how we can use this art to help out kids. We’ll take a look at how music heals students.
The benefits: how does music heal students?
Probably one of the most tangible benefits that music has on kids, is that it can be great for their mental health. For example, some studies have shown that listening to tunes can reduce stress and anxiety. That can be a big help, because stress and anxiety are easily one of the biggest hurdles that kids have to conquer at school. Need proof? Psychology Today reports that the average high school student has about the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. The same article says that about 49 per cent of today’s general population has some sort of history with an anxiety-related condition.
So how does music help treat anxiety? It’s hard to tell. One study found the act of listening or performing music can affect our bodies. For instance, it can lower blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels, which are all associated with anxiety and stress. So what, you may ask? It means that music can be used as a powerful alternative to anti-anxiety drugs. The study we linked to above showed that listening to calming tunes was more effective at treating anxiety among people about to go through surgery than prescription medication!
What kind of music heals students?
It should be understood that not all music is equal. Much of the studies that found positive benefits in music were examining songs that were described as ‘relaxing.’ For example, the first study we referenced used slow flute instrumentals to help patients calm down. Many of the studies we referenced seemed to find downtempo instrumentals beneficial, so introducing your children to that music first might be a good starting point. Observe how they react, and if you see the clinical benefits described above, try continuing. If not, try a different genre of music and try to figure out if your child is getting any therapeutic benefits from those songs.
However, you should keep an open mind. There can be health benefits in even the most unexpected places. One study found that heavy metal music can not only help process anger but also lead to feelings of calmness. So the next time you hear your long-haired, leather-jacket-and-spikes-wearing teen rocking out, maybe you should ask him or her to turn it up, rather than down!
Can performing music give students health benefits?
In a word, yes. For instance, singing has been found to be a confidence-booster which provides many boosts to the body that are often associated with exercise. Some examples include endorphin boosts and decreased levels of depression and anxiety. Percussion and drumming have also been been used to help Alzheimer’s patients and sharpen focus among those with autism. Rapping has been found to be very helpful in combatting depression and, as we mentioned earlier, rock and metal can help process negative emotions like anger.
And, while not directly related to ‘healing,’ This TED-Ed video explains that musicians ‘exercise’ their brain to the degree that they get better at memory, and “mental function.”
Where should you start?
At School is Easy Tutoring, we believe no two children are ever the same. It’s the approach we take to teaching, and we think that the same can be said when using music to heal students. Watch your kids. Try to figure out what music best matches their personality, and introduce them to positive songs from that genre. Are your kids fascinated with complex guitar work? Maybe rock and roll can work for them. Do they like inventive wordplay? Perhaps rap can help. Are they interested in movie soundtracks? Maybe orchestral music is best. Keep an open mind, but also try to steer your students towards positive songs. It should go without saying that you should educate your children about the difference between positive and negative influences in music, first.