Transitioning to Middle School: From Big Fish to Small

back to school

back to school

Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

Dear Mr. Dad: My son is starting middle school next week. His previous school was K-5 so this is a new one for him. He’s nervous and, honestly so am I. He’s a smart kid but has always had trouble finishing assignments and turning work in on time. I’m worried that if he does the same in middle school, he’ll be setting himself up for even more trouble in high school and beyond. What can I do to help him (and myself) get ready for this big transition?

The transition from elementary- to middle school is kind of like the transition from half-day preschool or kindergarten to full-day first grade: it’s going to be a huge change in your son’s—and your—life. Until now, he’s probably spent each school year in a single classroom with a single teacher and the schedule was largely the same every day. But now, that comfort and security is being replaced by different teachers in different classrooms—each with different rules, binders, homework policies, and learning environments. Middle school is also a lot more tech-heavy than elementary school. My daughter’s school, for example, has the kids use Google docs, which are accessible from anywhere, for all assignments. The old “the-dog-ate-my-homework” or “Oops-I-left-it­-at-home” excuses won’t fly anymore.
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Navigating Early Development in Today’s Girls

Louise Greenspan and Juliana Deardorff, co-authors of The New Puberty.
Topic:
How to navigate early development in today’s girls.
Issues: Why girls are developing earlier and what it means for their long-term health; things that can trigger early puberty (excess body fat, hormone-mimicing chemicals, emotional stressors at home); strategies to help prevent and/or manage early puberty.

Employed and At-Home Moms + The New Puberty


Deborah Kahn, author of The Roads Taken.
Topic:
Complex lives of employed and at-home mothers.
Issues: Is there an ideal work status? why do mothers change–or not change–their work status? can we really have it all? who gives us support? advantages and disadvantage of working or being at home; where do we go from here?

Louise Greenspan and Juliana Deardorff, co-authors of The New Puberty.
Topic:
How to navigate early development in today’s girls.
Issues: Why girls are developing earlier and what it means for their long-term health; things that can trigger early puberty (excess body fat, hormone-mimicing chemicals, emotional stressors at home); strategies to help prevent and/or manage early puberty.

Earlier Onset of Puberty In Girls Linked to Obesity

Several studies have documented earlier onset of puberty in girls over the past few decades. In a longitudinal study following more than 1,200 girls for seven years, researchers found those with higher BMI had earlier onset of puberty, as measured by breast development, and that white girls are entering puberty at younger ages than previously reported. The study, “Onset of Breast Development in a Longitudinal Cohort,” in the December 2013 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 4), tracked girls in San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York City. The age at onset of breast development varied by race, BMI, and geographic location. In white, non-Hispanic girls, breast development began at a median age of 9.7 years, which is earlier than previously documented, according to the study authors. Black girls continue to experience breast development earlier than white girls, at a median age of 8.8 years, compared to 9.3 years for Hispanic girls and 9.7 years for Asian girls. However, BMI was a stronger predictor of puberty onset than race or ethnicity. Study authors conclude the earlier onset of puberty in white girls is likely due to greater obesity.

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious than Non-Organics? Ah, Nope.

Just because a food is pesticide-free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more nutritious, according to a study just published by the American Academy of Pediatricsp (AAP). Dr. Janet Silverstein, a professor at the University of Florida found that there is actually no nutritional difference between pesticide-free and foods that are traditionally produced. Silverstein and her colleagues analyzed a number of factors, including the effects of hormones on the food and exposure to chemicals, and even the environmental impact. And their results applied to dairy products, meats, and produce.

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When it Comes to Puberty, Boys Are Catching Up to Girls (and That’s Not Necessarily Good News)

We’ve all (or at least those of us with daughters) heard about how girls growing up today are starting puberty younger than girls who came of age just a few generations ago. And we’ve all (whether we have boys or girls) heard about how boys are lagging behind girls in every measurable academic milestone, whether it’s grades, test scores, high-school graduation rates, college degrees, or professional degrees. But when it comes to puberty, it looks like boys may be closing the gap. And that may not be a good thing.

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