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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Jim Liebelt's Blog

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.

New brain research shows that writing by hand helps children learn more and remember better. At the same time, schools are becoming more and more digital, and a European survey shows that Norwegian children spend the most time online among 19 countries in the EU.

Professor Audrey van der Meer at NTNU believes that national guidelines should be put into place to ensure that children receive at least a minimum of handwriting training.

Results from several studies have shown that both children and adults learn more and remember better when writing by hand.

Now another study confirms the same: choosing handwriting over keyboard use yields the best learning and memory.

"When you write your shopping list or lecture notes by hand, you simply remember the content better afterward," Van der Meer says.

In 2017, she examined the brain activity of 20 students. She has now published a study in which she examined brain activity in twelve young adults and twelve children.

This is the first time that children have participated in such a study.

Both studies were conducted using an EEG to track and record brain wave activity. The participants wore a hood with over 250 electrodes attached.

The brain produces electrical impulses when it is active. The sensors in the electrodes are very sensitive and pick up the electrical activity that takes place in the brain.

Each examination took 45 minutes per person, and the researchers received 500 data points per second.

The results showed that the brain in both young adults and children is much more active when writing by hand than when typing on a keyboard.

"The use of pen and paper gives the brain more 'hooks' to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain. A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write and hearing the sound you make while writing. These sense experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning. We both learn better and remember better," says Van der Meer.

She believes that her own and others' studies emphasize the importance of children being challenged to draw and write at an early age, especially at school.

Source: MedicalXpress
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-kids-smarter.html

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Study Finds.

How many of your childhood math or science lessons do you remember today? If the answer is barely any, you aren’t alone. A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. parents finds the average parent these days has the math and science skills of an 11-year-old.

Respondents were asked what grade they would be placed in today if they had to take a placement test, and the average answer was the sixth grade for both math and science.

It’s unrealistic to expect anyone to remember everything they were taught in school as a child, of course. Yet the extent to which many American adults feel clueless when it comes to academics is shocking. In all, 42% say they would be “lost” trying to teach their child mathematics. Another 35% express the same sentiment regarding scientific topics.

This research, commissioned by Mongoose, feels especially timely considering how millions of parents suddenly find themselves taking on a more active teaching role with their kids home from school due to the pandemic.

Over half (58%) of respondents say they’ve been asked by their child for help with a math or science problem. Junior may clearly be better off looking elsewhere for a tutor. For instance, just under 40% of parents can’t say what STEM stands for (science, technology, engineering, math).

How about the formula for calculating speed? Despite that lesson being a standard sixth-grade level topic, a full 20% of parents can’t recall that formula. (In case you forgot, it’s distance divided by time). Similarly, only 36% believe they are capable of calculating the circumference and diameter of a circle diagram. Also, less than a third can name a correct example of “potential energy” (a stretched rubber band being one answer).

Most parents (72%) worry that the switch over to remote learning this year may end up hurting their child’s developing math and science skills. Among that group, 62% feel remote learning just doesn’t provide enough “hands-on” academic experiences. Another 64% agree that science and math lessons often require one-on-one instruction between student and teacher. That’s something that is exponentially harder to attain through a computer screen.

Source: Study Finds
https://www.studyfinds.org/average-parent-math-science-sixth-grader/

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.

After a mental illness episode, less than half of the children received any therapy within three months, and 22.5% of children received only drug therapy, according to a new study.

Using a national database of insurance claims, Princeton University researchers investigated the type of treatment adolescents -- most of whom were around the average age of 12 and suffering from anxiety or depression -- receive after a first episode of mental illness.

Less than half of children received any therapy within three months, and 22.5% of children received only drug therapy, the researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Of the children receiving drugs, 45% were prescribed strong, addictive drugs in the benzodiazepine class (like Valium or Xanax), tricyclic antidepressants, or drugs that were not FDA-approved for use in children as a first line of treatment.

The findings occur even in ZIP codes that are relatively well served by child psychiatrists, suggesting that they are not simply the result of doctor shortages.

"If children are receiving sub-standard care, a shortage of doctors in that area is often to blame. However, we find a lot of differences in the way children are treated after a first episode of mental illness regardless of ZIP code. What this says is that some individual doctors could be making questionable treatment decisions, and this should be a red flag to those in the medical community," said study co-author Janet M. Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and co-director of Princeton's Center for Health and Wellbeing.

Currie conducted the study with Emily Cuddy, a Ph.D. candidate in Princeton's Department of Economics.

Of the more than 2 million children covered in this dataset, there were 202,066 with at least one claim related to mental illness, which Currie and Cuddy used in their analysis.

Common medical advice suggests children receive prompt follow-up treatment, which is why the researchers looked at treatment within three months after the first incident. When drugs are thought to be necessary, those in the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) class are typically recommended by physicians as first-line treatments for anxiety and depression, as most children tolerate them well.

Yet, what the researchers found was much more startling: Only 70.8% of children received any follow-up treatment at all in the first three months, and this varied widely. Depending on the ZIP code, this ranged from 50% to just over 90%.

Many children received only medication, even though it is generally considered appropriate to begin with therapy alone or to combine drug treatment and therapy. Again, this varied across ZIP codes, from 17% to 62%.

Nearly half of the children who were given drugs were prescribed drugs with more severe potential side effects and little to no evidence of effectiveness in children.

These results suggest that some clinicians do not follow broadly agreed-upon general guidelines for the treatment of children with newly diagnosed mental health disorders. The authors conclude that more research is needed about the reasons for these patterns, and their effects on the affected children.

Source: ScienceDaily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200921151325.htm

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