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Building healthy eating habits in boys

Most boys love to eat and when growth spurts are about to hit they manage to ingest seemingly endless supplies of food – but are they getting the right foods and key messages and skills to help them develop healthy eating habits? A recent study from the University of Adelaide found Australian children watching free-to-air television are being inundated with junk food advertising on a daily basis. The study, which digitally compiled advertising data from one Adelaide television channel over the course of 2016 (recording 30,000 hours – including 500 hours of advertising), found children were subjected to nearly two and half times more junk food advertising than healthy food at peak child viewing times. University of Adelaide Associate Professor Click here to continue reading.

Making the most of reading with kids

Children typically enjoy being read to, and see educational, social and emotional benefits to the practice. But families are busy, and finding time to read aloud can be eaten up by the demands of everyday life. Reading to your child is one of the most successful ways of instilling a love of reading in them. But in our recent study, more than one-quarter of primary-school-aged respondents claimed they were never read to at home. Not all parents have been read to themselves as children, so may not have experienced a model they can then follow with their own children. And many adult Australians may be struggling readers themselves. With this in mind, here are five suggestions that can help make Click here to continue reading.

Exercise benefits the brain and body

Exercise – it can take effort and planning but its benefits to boosting boys brain power far outweigh the sometimes complicated logistics of making it a commonplace activity in their lives. The benefits of children and adolescents undertaking regular forms of exercise are well established. However, with one in five Australian pre-school age children overweight or obese the reality is that boys are not participating in as much regular physical activity they need on a daily and weekly basis. Canadian research linked short 10-minute bursts of aerobic activity to increased stimulation of parts of the brain which help with problem-solving and focus. Western University researchers found the temporary added stimulation of these areas of the brain was a positive result Click here to continue reading.

Music learning brings boys on song

Learning a musical instrument, the art of DJ’ing or singing in a choir – music learning can have a significant impact on many areas of a boy’s learning. Music training can have benefits to language and maths learning, social capabilities, perseverance and coordination skills, to name a few. There have been numerous studies into the benefits of music training for children, most finding the act of learning music can have obvious impact on a child’s brain function. Music learning engages the left side of the brain, an area also responsible for language learning. Researchers from North Western University in the US also found it was never too late to start reaping the benefit of music learning, in their 2015 study Click here to continue reading.

Why teens can make bad decisions

From getting beyond drunk at a friend’s party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid. But we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making don’t fully develop until early adulthood. A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices. So how can parents help their teenagers learn and apply good decision-making skills? The difference between what teenagers know and do Most children demonstrate an understanding of “right” and “wrong” behaviour from an early age. As language develops, children are able to give clear reasons as to why certain behaviours are undesirable. But children Click here to continue reading.

Back to school blues: overcoming shyness 

This month, more than 3.5 million young people will start or return to schools across Australia. For most young people this is a time of high excitement and energy. The long holidays are coming to an end and they are looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and being a grade higher. But the excitement is often tinged with a hint of trepidation – “who will be in my class”, “will they still like me”, “what teachers will I get”? For some young people, these worries can dominate their life. The good news is parents can help their kids through it. What is shyness and social anxiety? Shyness is a personality characteristic that exists on a continuum across Click here to continue reading.

Learning to build a positive digital footprint

Rather than just teaching children about internet safety and reducing their digital footprint, we should also encourage them to curate a positive digital footprint which will be an asset for them in their future. Today’s children are prolific users of the internet. Concern has been raised about the future impact of the digital footprints they are generating. While much discussion of this issue focuses on keeping children safe, little is known about how children manage their digital footprints. While digital footprints are considered to be a liability, if managed well they can be an asset. Digital footprints can showcase identity, skills and interests. This is important in an era where employers “google” candidates to check their identity and verify their suitability. In this context, having no digital footprint can Click here to continue reading.

Study habits for success: tips for students

Right now, thousands of Australian school children are taking a well-earned break from the classroom. Long breaks like this help us clear our minds, but they can also provide an opportunity to prepare for the learning year ahead. If you’re a student, this might mean thinking about your study habits. Here are some suggestions to help you learn as efficiently as possible. Focus! And don’t multi-task Our brains are impressive machines, but they can’t handle everything at once. There is simply too much going on in our sensory environment for us to digest. To be effective, we need to direct our attention to just one or two tasks at a time. That generally means no background music – it won’t help Click here to continue reading.

Boredom busters can include a little learning

The hype and festivities of Christmas are over, the New Year has been rung in and children across Australia have been on school holidays for weeks – boredom is starting to bite. With kids eager to keep their minds and bodies active over the holidays parents can struggle with finding activities and events to keep them entertained, engaged and happy. Western Sydney University Mathematics Education Professor Catherine Attard says calls of boredom from holidaying children should signal to parents that their sons and daughters need some “physical or mental activity to keep them occupied and to vent energy, just like needing food to satisfy feelings of hunger.” In an article for the Conversation, A/Prof. Attard says there are many problems Click here to continue reading.

Balancing the scales of social media use – good vs bad

Young people spend a lot of time on social media. They’re also more susceptible to peer pressure, low self-esteem and mental ill-health. A number of studies have found associations between increased social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating concerns, and suicide risk. Certain characteristics of social media may contribute to these negative effects. Cyberbullying Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, social isolation, and suicide. Compared to “traditional” forms of bullying, cyberbullying can be witnessed by a larger audience, the perpetrator can remain anonymous, and the victim may find it difficult to escape. Social media platforms have taken steps to address cyberbullying (such as Facebook’s bullying prevention hub), and almost all social media content can be reported to Click here to continue reading.