Regular bedtimes better for young minds
A new study suggests young children's bedtime consistency is tied to positive performance on intellectual tests.
July 9th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Regular bedtimes better for young minds

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - If your children are throwing temper tantrums because sleep seems unappealing, consider that it may be OK to let them stay up a little longer, as long as bedtime happens around the same time every night.

A new study suggests that consistency of young children's bedtime is associated with positive performance on a variety of intellectual tests. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"If the child prefers to go to sleep a little bit later, but it’s done regularly, that’s still OK for them, according to the evidence," said Amanda Sacker, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

The study

Researchers looked at information about bedtimes and standardized test scores for more than 11,000 children who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of children in the United Kingdom.

The Millennium Cohort Study followed children when they were aged 3, 5 and 7, and included regular surveys and home visits. Researchers asked parents about family routines such as bedtimes.

Children also took standardized tests in math, reading and spatial abilities when they were 7 years old.

Researchers controlled for socioeconomic status in addition to other factors such as discipline strategies, reading to children and breakfast routines.

The results

The study found that, in general, consistent bedtimes were linked to better performance across all subject areas. This was especially true for 7-year-old girls, regardless of socioeconomic background – they tended to do worse on all three intellect measurements if they had irregular bedtimes. Boys in this age group did not show the effect.

Read the full post on CNN.com's health blog, The Chart

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My graduation breakdown: 'Nothing will ever be this good again'
“I don’t want this year to be over. Nothing will ever be this good again," Liz Landau thought as she approached graduation.
June 3rd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My graduation breakdown: 'Nothing will ever be this good again'

Elizabeth LandauBy Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Editor's note: Elizabeth Landau is a health and science writer and producer for CNN.com. She is a 2006 graduate of Princeton University. Here she offers a personal take on the terror that can accompany such a happy milestone.

(CNN) - On paper, I was ready to graduate. In my head, though, I never wanted that moment to arrive.

Sure, I was academically qualified. I had already been through the festivities that Princeton lavishes upon its graduating seniors in the week prior to The Day: The Reunions parade, a hilarious talk by David Sedaris, an outdoor sing-along, an inspirational speech by Bill Clinton, the bestowing of honors and awards, and a prom-like gala where soon-to-be-graduates and parents danced awkwardly. Princeton really likes to celebrate things.

The final ceremonial act would, superficially, be the easiest and least meaningful: Commencement – put on the cap and gown, sit through a few speeches, receive my diploma.

But in those last hours as a student, the perky, optimistic, ready-for-anything face I’d worn for four years melted away. I completely fell apart.

“Boludita, don’t cry,” my college sweetheart told me that morning, using a Spanish word meaning something like “little stupid one” that we had adapted into an affectionate nickname.

There was much to look forward to – an overseas trip! Graduate school! This all felt remote and less appealing because of graduation.

“I can’t help it,” I told him. “I don’t want to leave. I don’t want this year to be over. Nothing will ever be this good again.”

We bid farewell so he could catch a flight and I could get to graduation procession.When I was standing alone on the sidewalk with tears streaming down my cheeks, a single thought would not go away: “I will never be happy again.”

I wish that I had known Marina Keegan, the Yale graduate whose beautiful essay about graduating has been widely cherished since her untimely death in a car accident at age 22 last year. Marina’s incredible insight and wisdom led her to write, “The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious. We're graduating college. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have.”

It’s clear from Marina’s essay that she loved her time at Yale. I still get teary-eyed reading her words because it sounds as though she is directly addressing 22-year-old me - I who believed on graduation day that nothing was possible anymore.

FULL POST

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My View: The can't-miss experience for a college senior
Sure, the senior thesis is a giant, time-consuming project -- but it's all about you and your passions, Elizabeth Landau writes.
April 17th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: The can't-miss experience for a college senior

Elizabeth LandauBy Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Editor's note: Elizabeth Landau is a writer and producer for CNN.com. She is a 2006 graduate of Princeton University.

(CNN) - When I told my mother that my senior thesis proposal had been accepted, that I would travel overseas to study the legacy of medieval Judaism in Spain, her main question was: “Where is this all going?”

For a 21-year-old, it’s often not clear where anything is going. I wasn’t entirely sure myself. In today’s tough job market, it may be hard for students - or parents - to rationalize working on an extensive academic research project over the course of the senior year of college, especially in the liberal arts.

But this is the season when some students are deciding whether to pursue one, and the seniors are submitting them. So, parents, listen up: A senior thesis is something that you should motivate your college student to do, even if the subject doesn’t lead to an obvious career path.

Outside of graduate studies or academia, most people will never again choose a topic that they want to research deeply for months, and write about what they discovered. As long as there’s an academic supervisor, reading and writing involved, the process can help with job and life skills.

FULL POST

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March 1st, 2013
04:30 AM ET

When bullying goes high-tech

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on "AC360" at 10 p.m. ET Thursday. Note graphic language in this story.

(CNN) - Brandon Turley didn't have friends in sixth grade. He would often eat alone at lunch, having recently switched to his school without knowing anyone.

While browsing MySpace one day, he saw that someone from school had posted a bulletin - a message visible to multiple people - declaring that Turley was a "fag." Students he had never even spoken with wrote on it, too, saying they agreed.

Feeling confused and upset, Turley wrote in the comments, too, asking why his classmates would say that. The response was even worse: He was told on MySpace that a group of 12 kids wanted to beat him up, that he should stop going to school and die. On his walk from his locker to the school office to report what was happening, students yelled things like "fag" and "fatty."

"It was just crazy, and such a shock to my self-esteem that people didn't like me without even knowing me," said Turley, now 18 and a senior in high school in Oregon. "I didn't understand how that could be."

A pervasive problem

As many as 25% of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point, said Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He and colleagues have conducted formal surveys of 15,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States, and found that about 10% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last 30 days.

Online bullying has a lot in common with bullying in school: Both behaviors include harassment, humiliation, teasing and aggression, Patchin said. Cyberbullying presents unique challenges in the sense that the perpetrator can attempt to be anonymous, and attacks can happen at any time of day or night.

Read the full story

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Connecticut school shooting
December 14th, 2012
03:39 PM ET

Support crucial for kids after trauma

Follow news about Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on CNN's live This Just In blog.

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - School shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, may have long-lasting consequences, but with proper support, many children are able to move on, experts say.

Children need to be with their families as quickly as possible after exposure to such horrific events, said Steven Marans, director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence/Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale University's Child Study Center.

Marans and colleagues are making themselves available to Connecticut officials, including the governor's office and state police.

The good news is that most kids do bounce back from a single incident of trauma, said James Garbarino, professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago and author of "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them." If children can get back into their normal routines and get proper support, he said, they will do well.

Long-term issues are more likely for children who were very close to someone who died in a shooting, who witnessed the event or who were in close physical proximity to it, Garbarino said.

In addition, "Kids who are having difficult lives before the event are the ones most likely to have issues," Garbarino said.

Read the full story

 

 

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