research

When Your Child’s New Friend is Imaginary

NYU Child Study Center

3 year old Anna with her imaginary friendMany young children, particularly those between the ages of 3 and 5 years, develop imaginary friends.  Children this age are typically beginning to decipher the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and their “new” imagined friends are part of this process. 

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The Linguistic Genius of Babies

3 month old BellaTEDxRainier

In this presentation (filmed in October 2010), Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another — by listening to the humans around them and “taking statistics” on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

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How Early Experiences Shape Brain Development

 3 year old CasonCenter on the Developing Child  Harvard University

This article compares the executive functions of the brain, including the ability focus, hold, and work with information in the mind,  to the “air traffic control” at a busy airport.  It explains how these critical lifelong skills develop, how early experiences shape this development, and how supporting this development pays off in school and later in life.

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New Study Indicates Long-term Benefits of Early Education

Story time at Lakeside PreschoolScience Daily

A new study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examines the impact of intensive early education programs on the health and health behaviors of low-income children.  The study used data from the well-known Carolina Abededarian Project (ABC), a randomized control study that enrolled 111 infants in the 1970s and continued to follow them through age 21.

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Self-control in Childhood Leads to Success Later in Life

2 boys at Lakeside PreschoolProceedings of the National Acadmey of the Sciences of the United States of America

The need to delay gratification, control impulses, and moderate emotional expression is one of the earliest demands that societies place on their children, and success at many life tasks depends critically on children’s mastery of such self-control. This study looked at the lives of 1,000 children and examined their mastery of self-control by age 10.  The authors then followed them for 30 years and traced the consequences of their childhood self-control for their health, wealth, and criminal offending.

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Efforts to Restore Play in Childhood

Understanding Babbling as a Key to Development

7 month old TaviaThis article explores the significance of babies’ babble, and how these first sounds and utterances lead to more advanced communication, including both receptive and productive language.  It appears that babies’ around the world babble in similar ways, and researchers are becoming increasingly interested in interpreting these sounds and the impact they have on both cognitive and social development.

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Can Preschoolers be Depressed?

3 year old Asira readingPsychologists and other early childhood experts over the past several years have begun to look closely at depression in young children, including characteristics, signs and symptoms, and long-term impact on healthy development.  The impact of parental, particularly maternal, depression and other influences are also discussed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29preschool-t.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

The Foundations of Lifelong Health are Built in Early Childhood

17 month old CameronCenter on the Developing Child  Harvard University

This topic, available in both PDF and video formats,  explores the impact of healthy development in the earliest weeks and years of life.  Postive early experiences can shape and strengthen developing biological systems which in turn can lead to a healthier and more productive life in adulthood. 

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Early Experiences Can Alter Gene Expression and Affect Long-Term Development

Gene Expression articleCenter on the Developing Child  Harvard University

A new report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child examines how environmental influences impact gene expression. These findings illustrate that the experiences children have early in life shape their developing brain architecture and impact their growth and development.

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The Moral Life of Babies

The New York Times Magazine

Makalya clappingFor years, psychologists have argued that humans enter the world devoid of morality.  However, a growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life, and babies can demonstrate a basic understanding of right and wrong.

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Decisions About Discipline

Brielle and Dad 2 years DisciplineAccording to childcare experts, the most important thing parents can give their children is love. The second most important thing is discipline (Brazelton & Sparrow, 2003). What is discipline, and how can parents make the best decisions for their children?  Read more »

Maternal depression can undermine the development of young children

Center on the Developing Child  Harvard University

Gabrielle and mom maternal depression articleSerious depression in parents and caregivers affects not only the adults who are ill but also influences the the well-being of the children in their care.  The first joint Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation summarizes recent evidence on the negative effects of severe depression on children and families.  The report also highlights the need for early intervention to ensure mothers’ well-being and children’s healthy development.  

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Is there a “Right” way to praise a child?

The Talaris Institute

Trystan and Mom - PraiseIn the Sept. 14 edition of the New York Times, author Alfie Kohn wrote about the potentially detrimental effects of praise on young children. In the article, both positive reinforcement (praise) and punishment through withdrawal of attention (including time out) were described as manipulations intended to shape children’s behavior to please the adults in their life, regardless of the feelings, goals, and needs of the child. Kohn calls for parents to love their children unconditionally, instead of sending them repeated messages that they are lovable only when they behave in certain ways.

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Children’s Emotional Development is Built into the Architecture of Their Brains

Center on the Developing Child  Harvard University

Wyatt and MomA growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that emotional development begins early in life and is closely connected with the emergence of cognitive, language and social skills. Early emotional development lays the foundation for later academic performance, mental health and the capacity to form successful relationships.

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Infants and Sleep: Is It Okay to Let Him Cry?

Author: Danielle Z. Kassow, Ph.D.

Walk into any major bookstore in America, stop by any newsstand, turn on the television, talk to other parents and grandparents- it seems everywhere you turn there is parenting advice on how to raise children, how to make your baby the smartest, happiest, and on and on.
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Language Use Decreases When Television is On

2 year old Brielle, sitting in armchair with teddy bearA recent study confirms that increased televison time in a household leads to decreased verbal interaction between parent and child.  Since interaction is one of the most important ways to stimulate a baby’s brain growth, less interaction can only lead to less productive brain growth.  The study also explored the impact of television on young children’s verbal development.

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A Parents’ Guide to Safe Sleep (2008)

The American Academy of Pediatrics

SleepAn article written by the AAP to help parents reduce the risk of SIDS.

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Making Friends: Assisting Children’s Early Relationships

UNC FPG Child Development Institute Authors Barbara Goldman and Virginia Buysse

FriendsBarbara Goldman and Virginia Buysse support the authenticity of friendships among the very young and among children with and without disabilities as they explore the characteristics and benefits of friendship.  The authors also suggest ways parents and teachers can identify and foster friendships in young children with and without disabilities.

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The Science of Early Childhood Development

Center on the Developing Child  Harvard University

Kaili and MomThis edition of the InBrief* series addresses basic concepts of early childhood development, established over decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, which help illustrate why child development—particularly from birth to five years—is a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.

* InBrief is a three-part series that offers short summaries of the scientific presentations given at the National Symposium on Early Childhood Science and Policy in June 2008.

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