Safe turf?

As we transition between spring and summer sports, parents are asking the annual sideline question: Is artificial turf safe for children?

Health concerns continue to be raised about artificial turf. The two major questions center around potential links to cancer and possible neurologic effects on kids.

Tires, which contain chemicals, are recycled into crumbs that support the plastic blades of the grass.

I share the frustration of parents who have spent several years waiting for answers.

How real is too real?

Parents of some middle and junior high students are nervously awaiting the summer reading lists their child will bring home.

Last year, some angry parents were offended by authors who pushed boundaries beyond acceptability for their child’s developmental level.

As books deal with the weighty and complex issues kids face today, some authors do not censor traits and behaviors of their characters. They argue that authenticity is essential to the story.

But how real is too real?

We’ll see where teachers and administrators set the boundaries this summer.

Mommy Brain

If you’re a new mom, blame the brain for the mental fog. It’s not your imagination; Mommy Brain is real.

But hang on, because you’ll end up in a good place.

Researchers have shown that connections thicken in the brain after delivery. As a result, you might feel smarter and concentrate more intently.

So celebrate. Your brain is growing.

A beary good birthday

Build-A-Bear Workshop is recognizing 20 years in business with a 16 inch Celebration Bear. The special bear has a birthday logo on its paw pad and poseable arms and legs.

Look for in-store parties next Saturday and the twentieth of each month until the “official” birthday Oct 27.

Serious summer reading?

In preparation for completing summer reading lists, librarians are devoting more shelf space than ever to graphic novels.

Because this genre fills the gap between screens and a traditional print book, graphic novels often appeal to reluctant readers or students with limited English language skills.

This summer, “light novels,” which are text-only novels based on comics, will appeal to many of these same students.

Some parents don’t see these books as serious reading, but as an educator, I’m glad to see options for kids who might otherwise struggle to complete summer reading assignments.

Fake or real?

Researchers say that the 24 hour news cycle not only gives kids information, but also causes them to feel afraid or angry.

Fewer than half of the children studied can distinguish between fake news and real news. (Perhaps adult percentages wouldn’t be that different!)

Digital literacy skills were supposed to receive major time and attention in classrooms during the school year that’s coming to a close. I’m not convinced that happened.

Parents can make a deliberate attempt to talk with children about news stories. News topics which triggered the most stress and anxiety in kids: global issues related to safety, financial uncertainty and war.

A doll or a spy?

“My Friend Cayla” has been banned by regulators in Germany.

The doll, which has a microphone and uses a Bluetooth to transmit audio via the internet, has been accused of threatening security and privacy. This means anything a child says can be recorded and transmitted without a parents’ approval.

Labeled by some an “intelligent robot,” Cayla could be the first of many tech-equipped toys with the potential to violate consumer protection laws in the U.S.