Tiny trend

Tiny houses might have trouble complying with building codes, but tiny produce has settled in children’s brown bags.

From the baby Hass avocados at Trader Joe’s to the “kid friendly” labeled pears at Aldi, child-sized portions have moved beyond little carrots. Perfect for school lunch boxes, moms have embraced the fruit options while kids ask for campfire “small s’mores” as after school snacks (even in winter.)

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Confiscate or celebrate?

One of the hottest topics among parents this school year: cell phones at school.

But the debate isn’t about phones for teens. The current battlefield is middle and elementary schools.

Some schools ban smartphones. Others allow middle graders to use them during lunch, especially in schools where phones have been incorporated into class instruction.

But whether smartphones are used as a teaching tool or banned as a curse, the debate continues. Stay tuned.

Wait until 8th

The question, “When should I give my child a smartphone?” has been a burning issue among parents who question why a ten-year old needs a phone. After all, 10.3 is the average age of phone ownership.

But a parent-driven movement, which started last year in Texas, has gained momentum.

When parents get together, they find it’s not true that “everyone has one”…especially if they’ve signed the pledge to wait until their child is in eighth grade before having a cell phone.

Check the site: http://www.waituntil8th.org

Toy-friendly films

Marketers can barely hold back their anticipation of the International Toy Fair held each year at this time in New York City.

The reason: an entertainment rich release schedule of kid friendly (ie. toy friendly) films.

This means parents will have another year of kid begging for licensed toys. Hint: prepare for a deluge of superheroes.

High-end vending

I always stop at one vending machine when walking through the airport terminal in St. Louis. Even during winter, I love to watch the creamy frozen confection twirl into cups at the Ted Drewes frozen custard stall.

The Ted Drewes vending machine, in the Southwest Airlines terminal, is my favorite example of the high-end grab-and-go products that are trending.

Luxury has become convenient.

After all, you can now purchase champagne, fresh oysters and even chia pudding cups from vending machines.

Zucchini noodles anyone? Check out the nearest machine.

Grocery list influencers

If you’ve grocery shopped recently with a tween or teen, you know these kids shop differently than we shopped at their age.

Knowledge is at their fingertips, so it you want to know the effect of adding Chicoree Angel Hair to your salad, just ask your young companion- he’ll have an answer in two clicks, as his phone is probably already on.

Of course, consider it a minor miracle if a tween or teen will even accompany you to a grocery store. They are major influencers of the shopping list, but typically avoid such boring shopping.

Anti-intellectual reflection?

The “no homework, read instead” trend continues, even during this time of the school year in which students traditionally prepare intensely for standardized tests.

Some commentators view this shift as an awareness that current academics won’t prepare today’s students for the future. Others say flatly, “It’s another way to dumb down education.”

There is very little data on homework in the primary grades. For older students, homework tends to have minimal impact on academic achievement.

It’s a sticky issue, often overshadowed by emotions.