February 20, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: K2 Edition

You know, because K2 chose this week to basically challenge Death at every turn, I've had a hard time freaking out over anything the hyperbolic science reporting industry can come up with, but I'll try:

  • The NY Times reports that something in the IVF process somewhere might affect the expression of some genes or other, which might increase the risk of some rare disorders, maybe even cancer some day. In other words, they need to do some major studies. [nyt]

  • Seriously, maybe we shouldn't have nicknamed her K2, because she's climbing anything that's not nailed to the ground. If she's silent for more than 5-10 seconds, you know she's getting in trouble. While giving the kid her bath last night, my wife turned around and saw K2 on tiptoes on an Ikea Mammut [mah-MOOT, btw] stool, trying to reach the toothbrushes. Then she shooed her away, only to watch her head into the kitchen to climb up the drawers like stairs. She climbed the bookcases to reach the computers. She still has a vertical welt down her face, somewhere between Blofeld and Tony Montana, after she did a headplant over the arm of the sofa onto the edge of the toy box. It's as if our job as parents has been transformed from raising our kid to just keeping her alive.

  • Researchers at Vanderbilt University are developing robotic playmates for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder which can identify their emotional state by tracking galvanic skin responses and pulse rate and such. Obviously, this is just another step in the robots' insidious plan to enslave us all. [eurekalert]

  • The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has published the results of a study of 17 year nearly 750,000 first-time mothers, and found that almost half of the 892 women hospitalized for post-partum psychosis had had no previous reports of mental illness. While there is probably some "specific" risk factor, they say it's not smoking, drinking, or not living with the baby daddy. So fire up and party on, there's only a 1.2 in 1,000 chance you'll lose touch with reality! [sciencedaily]

  • Canadian university research on the sociological impact of online parenting forums in a "moderate-sized Canadian city" found that it was wonderfully supportive and informative for moms, but that the chickfest alienated dads. "There were some indications that our [all mom] study group felt that parenting was primarily their responsibility and that fathers didn't need to be included in the discussions." ORLY? [eurekalert; shockingly, dads didn't need to be included in the abstract, either]

  • A UMich kinesiologist has developed a baby treadmill--which looks just like a regular treadmill, only smaller--that can help a Down Syndrome kid walk up to 6 months earlier than average. [video, too: sciencedaily]

  • This one just gets a straight-up quote: "Raw fruits and vegetables are good for you but may also send you to the doctor, according to research published today by Cambridge University Press in the journal Epidemiology and Infection. A review article in the journal, written by several experts in their field, has highlighted the fact that fresh fruits and vegetables are increasingly recognised as a source of food poisoning outbreaks in many parts of the world." [sciencedaily]

  • A University of Delaware paleoanthropologist says women helping each other out with childbirth and childcare is an evolutionary response to the englarged infant brain and the narrowing of the human birth canal associated with bipedalism. So religious creationists and Darwin want to keep women barefoot and pregnant? Common ground! [eurekalert]

  • A child development professor at the University of Illinois says that children learn best through play, and that preschools and kindergartens should not stick kids behind desks and force-feed them rote learning. I'm sorry, can you show me the Pre-K/K programs that confine kids to desks these days? Do they really exist, or are they just the hypothetical boogie monsters of people with parenting books to sell? [sciencedaily]

  • Related? This Atlantic Magazine article about how insidious pre-school is, and why are we regimenting our helpless' children's childhood out from under them? is from 1931, but it could have been written yesterday. [theatlantic]


    Must be something about K2s. My K2 climbs way more than I ever remember K1 climbing.

    The boy has already broken off the connector on the subwoofer on the new surround sound system by climbing on it and slipping off.

    Maybe has something to do with seeing K1 do all those exciting things.

    Two words:
    Airbag Suit:

    I live in a relatively wealthy town, with well above average SAT scores for the high schoolers. But budgets are ridiculously tight; there are 21 kids per kindergarten classroom, and more than half the time is spent at desks. In first grade, there are 25 kids per class and 3/4 of the time is spent at desks.

    My K2 also seems to operate mainly in kamikaze mode. I bet someone has already shown that K1s are typically much more safety- & rules-oriented than subsequent kids. Like one of those birth order theorists who are always coming in and out of vogue.

    Mine certainly spent many an hour behind his desk at preschool...while nowhere as ridged as in Elem Sch, they had their "desk-time."

    And let's not make the mistake my next door neighbor does of confusing "Pre-school" and "Day Care." They seem to think day care IS school (or rather was, since he is now in K) and since they never did anything educational at home, now they wonder WHY after 2 years of "school" aka DAYCARE he can't keep up with the special ed kid in the corner drooling (and at least the sped kids don't tell off the teacher and disrupt the class like Mr "Preschool Daycare.")

    At any rate, after sending ours to 3 years of true preschool, I will take 100% of the long term "negatives" associated with giving my child a head start in EVERY area of learning, with him now at the top, or near the top of the class in every area (1st grade.)

    Then again, we are one of those deranged parents that actually requires learning and discipline at home, and don't subscribe to "ahh well, boys will be boys" excuse for everything.

    Long story short, people who think it is a BAD idea to educate their kids (or are just too lazy to do it) make me want to walk around with a punching glove on one hand and an "IDIOT" stamp in the other.

    Josh, might I suggest a sock full of nickels in one hand, and your stamp in the other?

    I'm with you on this one. Parents seem to think that school is the be-all-end-all safety net in society, designed to save their kid from their own negligent care.

    PONY UP people! You had the kid... READ to it, TALK to it, take it to museums, answer the 40,000,000,000,000 WHY questions (and if you don't know the answer, you AND your child should look it up together).

    I'm always amazed when parents with no intellectual curiosity of their own seem amazed when their children are also slack-jawed-mouth-breathers.

    Parents must lead by example. READ! and let your kids see you turn of your TV and pick up a book (repeat as needed). Play games that teach logical thinking, deductive reasoning and strategy (Mastermind, Go, Chess, etc).

    And people wonder why so many kids are failing to achieve in school and beyond?!?

    (sorry, the soapbox is free now)

    Wow, thanks for helping prove the child development researcher's point. I was naive and didn't believe so many people--including educators--still don't get it, that pre-k and kindergarten kids develop better when they learn through play, not when they're stuck behind a desk.

    Of course, it's not just any play, getting let loose in a ball pit, but directed play that's designed with pedagogical goals and supervised by teachers. And one of the goals is obviously to teach kids how to work within an educational environment that grows increasingly structured as they get older.

    As for the special ed kids, you're an ignorant, offensive dick, flatout. We chose the kid's preschool precisely because it was inclusive along every imaginable axis: race, socio-economic level, and special needs. And one of the biggest disappointments we're finding as we look around for her kindergarten-and-onwards, is that this special needs integration effectively ends. I suppose it's inevitable, and teaching an integrated class is a huge challenge, but it's been an exceptional benefit, not a drag, on our experience, and our extremely advanced kid has only benefited from it, too.

    And as for the straw man of "people who think it is a BAD idea to educate their kids," I guess I don't get out enough, because I've never met or heard of such a parent. Usually, the problem is people OVERLYobsessed with educating their kid, who end up overloading him with suboptimal, age-inappropriate baby French lessons and flash cards and such.

    OK, sorry, Josh, now that read TKV's description, I see what you're talking about. I still don't know anyone like that, but I get the point and generally agree.

    Fair call on the Red Card to Josh for the 'SpEd' comment.

    I'm in a somewhat unique position to comment on the 'Bad idea/too lazy to- educate' state of mind. However, I'd rather not disclose the personal details of individuals close to me publicly. Contact me if you're interested in continuing the conversation.


    I agree with you Greg on all points. Now, I have to choose a pre-school for my 3 year old, that is, soon...

    There are around 20 "local" pre-schools and I don't like what I see (old toys, generally in the basement area). And then there is the North Shore Montessori (somebody comment on Montessori education please). And THEN there is NYC and the Reggio Emilia pre-schools. I've read about Reggio Emilia, I love the pluses, and I'd go and play there if I could. It sounds perfect. Can anyone comment?

    My point is, I am willing to move to NYC, pay the crazy price, just so that my kid can PLAY and learn freely, in an inventive and fluid atmosphere. I dread the standard structure of a typical pre-school day, the boredom of the ABC's, the rapid change of topics, an artificial atmosphere...


    Clearly you weren't at the dinner party we went to the other night where two parents were criticizing a campus preschool for not having a good enough "curriculum" for their child who was clearly going to be "very academic". He's 3.

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