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Finland's education system well worth studying

Geoff Johnson
Jun 20th, 2012

Photo of Finnish school from Flickr 

Use the “F” word in any conversation about public education it is bound to result in a lively discussion.

The “F” word is “Finland”.

Here is a country of five and a half million people and a public education system with no high profile comparison based standardised testing, fewer school hours than any other developed country and kids who enjoy more playtime within those school hours than might seem reasonable to us.

Teachers – who are compensated somewhere around the mid point in international comparisons of teacher salaries – are unionized, but not subject to external inspection or assessment.

National curricular guides are sometimes no longer than two or three pages. Teachers decide the what and the how of what they do in their classrooms: to teach.

A chaotic system headed for failure – right?

Childcare crisis eased by VSB and Collingwood Neighbourhood House Partnership

Kurt Heinrich
Jun 1st, 2012

There's a huge crisis for parents looking to find high-quality, licensed and affordable childcare for their kids. According to one recent study, only 15 percent of students are in licensed childcare. It's a huge problem for many young families, but next year, there's a bit of good news for eastside parents.

There's a crisis for parents looking to find high-quality, licensed and affordable childcare for their kids. According to one recent study, only 15 per cent of students are in licensed childcare. It's a major problem for many young families, but next year, there's a bit of good news for East Vancouver parents.

Collingwood Neighbourhood House is expanding its partnership with three local VSB schools to grow their before and after school childcare programs to meet community demand. Starting September, there will be a new program with 30 licensed spaces at Renfrew Elementary, 15 new morning care spaces at Collingwood Annex and an expansion of four spaces at Grenfell Elementary.

“Affordable, accessible and quality child care is critical for young students. With this new partnership with Collingwood Neighbourhood House, we’ll be adding dozens of new spots and making use of school space to serve the community,” says Patti Bacchus, Chair of the Vancouver School Board. “It’s win-win for everyone.”

Younger children in the classroom likely over-diagnosed with ADHD: UBC research

Staff Reporter
Mar 5th, 2012

The youngest children in the classroom are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – and given medication – than their peers in the same grade, according to new research by the University of British Columbia.

Children born in December, close to the cut-off date for entry into school in British Columbia, were 39 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born 11 months earlier, according to authors of the UBC study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. December-born children also were 48 per cent more likely to be treated with medication than their January-born peers.

The gap in ages among students in the same grade creates what researchers call a “relative age effect,” in which younger children within an age cohort are at a disadvantage in academic and athletic activities. In this case, the researchers suggest that younger students within a grade may be diagnosed with ADHD because they are less mature.

Parenting advice: How to make teenagers read a book

Howard Eaton
Jan 30th, 2012

Parents often receive conflicting messages about teenagers and literacy: on the one hand, they don't read books, but on the other hand, they are constantly reading online. 

Educator Howard Eaton was asked, "My teenage son doesn't pick up a book on his own these days. Should I be alarmed? Is there anything I can do about it?" 

Here is his feedback: 

This is such an important question. Should I be alarmed that my teenage son doesn’t pick up a book on his own these days?

The short answer is, yes.

Based on research over the last 20 years teenagers that don’t read books are less likely to attend college, reduced language skills, experience depression more frequently then non-readers and have lower paying jobs. That is a lot to be alarmed about. Research also notes that reading fiction has significant benefits to the brain including increasing attention span, developing empathy, improving overall social cognition and enhancing reasoning ability. Reading books benefit our teenagers in so many ways.

Parenting advice: children and video games

Howard Eaton
Jan 23rd, 2012

Educator Howard Eaton was asked, "how are video games impacting my child's future? My teenager spends an average of about two hours a day playing video games, but at times has spent as much as seven hours a day. Is there hope for teenagers who spend hour after hour playing video games?"  Here is his answer, an answer parents with kids who love video games won't want to miss:

Parenting advice: what to do if your child isn't interested in school?

Howard Eaton
Jan 16th, 2012

Flickr photo by OctavioSN

Parents of teenagers worry about how to keep their children engaged in school while respecting their boundaries. Here's some advice for a parent of teenagers who had the following question: "Should I try to set a high bar for my teenage son's academic performance or is he already a formed human being in charge of his own destiny?"

Parenting advice:

A question for the ages. What parent does not struggle with this question? I do. I have two boys in their teenage years. One in public school and the other home-schooled. My wife and I know how important grades are for university admissions. Thus, our minds tend to fix on this concept and wonder, "Are they studying enough to get the grades they need?" Or: "Are they taking the right classes?" This results in our own inner stress and anxiety. We begin to think for ourselves. What we want. What we hope for. We begin to believe we can help shape our children's destiny through our efforts. And, we often, at the end of all this concern, feel puzzled and lifeless.

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