A 2015 study by the National Association for Music Education (nafme.org) shows that youngsters harboring an early appreciation for music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers. The research also revealed that schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to others averaging 72.9 and 84.9 percent, respectively.
As primeval drumbeats echo across an African savannah, the rhythms circle the globe, picked up by the chants and rattles of shamans gracing Amazonian jungles and Siberian tundra. They’re repeated in Gregorian chants filling medieval cathedrals and “om” meditations sounding in Himalayan caves and yoga classes everywhere. They gently echo in the repeated tones of mothers’ lullabies, happy hummings as we go about our day and the melodies of Mozart.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. It exists within, uniting and guiding us, and has helped heal body and spirit since the dawn of humanity. National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists recently discovered that the universe itself has a song.
Whether it’s playing dress-up, making forts from sofa cushions or drawing pictures, creative moments can define and distinguish a happy childhood. Yet it’s not all just fun and games, according to experts. Childhood creativity, nurtured both in the classroom and at home, is crucial for developing qualities such as sound decision-making, flexible thinking and mental resiliency.
Delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year shows significant mental health benefits for children, according to a Stanford University study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Reviewing results from a mental health survey completed by more than 35,000 Danish parents, the researchers saw that youngsters held back from kindergarten for as little as one year showed a 73 percent reduction in inattentiveness and hyperactivity for an average child at age 11, compared to children enrolled the year earlier.
Even mainstream media have picked up on the many physical and mental benefits of walking, including weight loss, reduced stress, increased energy and better sleep, and that’s only the beginning. These additional compelling effects may well catalyze us to consistently step out for a daily walk, understanding that cumulative steps count, too. For more inspiration, check out this month’s race walking at the Summer Olympics.
The plugged-in, stressed-out world that challenges adults can be even more difficult for teens in the throes of hormones, peer pressure and a selfie culture. Parents can help their children thrive and become empowered individuals by nurturing desirable character traits such as resourcefulness, resilience, perseverance, self-reliance, independence, empathy and social competence.
Child psychologist Michele Borba, Ed.D., of Palm Springs, California, is a former classroom teacher and the mother of three grown children who dispenses advice at MicheleBorba.com/blog.
American fatherhood has evolved considerably in the last 50 years. While dads used to be kept out of the delivery room, today, more than 90 percent of new fathers are present for their children’s birth, reflected in MenCare Advocacy’s State of the Worlds’ Fathers. However, being there early on does not necessarily define the scope of future involvement. Overcoming obstacles that might keep men from being the “high-five” dads they and their family need them to be is key.
For parents serving in the military, some of the biggest barriers to involvement are inevitable and often repeated deployments. Dads returning home often struggle to reestablish both their family role—which changed while they were away—and their relationships with children they haven’t seen for months and who may not even recognize them. Here are practical tips to counter any estrangement.
Two related studies from the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that the act of admiring the beauty of nature with awe and wonder can decrease inflammation in the body.
Research from the UK University of Surrey has found that witnessing live comedy increases emotional interaction and bonding between the spectators and performer and enhances a general feeling of trust and intimacy among participants through the shared experience.