It used to be so simple

As an author, I was thrilled to see the mom trying to choose the “right” title for her daughter at Barnes & Noble.

As we started talking, she shared how difficult it is to find a “safe” book that her 10-year-old would be willing to read. I totally understood: matching a child with the “right” book used to be simple. Front cover art indicated the general topic; then there was usually an age range on the back cover. Flipping through the pages, it was fairly easy to tell if the book was a match.

Tonight, the mom sorted through somewhat ambiguous labels – middle school, intermediate, young adult, YA reader – merely to find a single book for a Christmas stocking! How does something so simple become so complicated?

Smart toys

Smartphones. Smart watches. Smart toys.

Now that playthings have become hybrids that merge toys and digital, Santa will need plenty of recharging stations!

Wearable tech drops down

Wearable tech is on wish lists for kids and adults, but wearable sensors for babies goes too far.

For most healthy babies, we don’t need to know vital signs during naps. I have faced parallel situations as an early childhood educator. When parents ask for their child’s IQ, I respond, “What will you do with that information?” Too often, I’ve found that such data merely becomes yet another way to compare one child to another.

And so I ask parents, “What are you going to do when you learn your baby’s heart rate and the humidity level in the room? Will that information make you a better parent or make your baby safer?”

Stalled after Sandy Hook

Sunday marks the two-year date of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newton, Conn.

Since then, the school safety industry has grown dramatically. Many types of barricades, bullet-proof defenses and locks are now available.

After each subsequent shooting, school safety fears temporarily spark suggestions of how to prevent future shootings.

But why does the national conversation about real solutions stall until the next tragedy makes headlines?

The bullying epidemic

October was designated as anti-bullying month. But two months later, in the middle of the jolly “Ho-ho-ho” season, bullying continues to make headlines.

The reason is simple: bullying continues to impact a large number of children in all age groups.

According to the recently released “Bullying in U.S. Schools: 2013 Status Report” (data like this is often published after detailed analysis, making the numbers feel a bit dated) bullying peaks in third and fourth grades. That’s actually earlier than I expected.

I was also surprised that students who are bullied suffer simultaneously from several types of bullying. For example, in the upper grades, girls suffer from verbal, rumors, sexual and cyber bullying.

The report details types of bullying that effect kids at various ages. Worth reading:

The game wave

Games represent one of the biggest waves to hit classrooms this fall. Recent statistics show that students play games on desktop, laptop or tablet screens in more than 70% of classrooms.

There’s a good reason for the popularity: games engage students. Even low-performing kids benefit when content is presented in a game format. Sounds like a good reason to play.

Tubby time

The category of bath toys – those things that keep dripping under the sink and in the linen closet – has exploded with an endless array of products. Tubby toys now occupy entire store aisles.

Some of the best are BPA, PVC and phthalate-free for babies who mouth everything. And the non-absorbent ones don’t promote mold or mildew. Good stocking stuffers.