Nourishing Teachers & Parents

The Benefits of Family Life
LATEST RESEARCH – Marriage boosts self-esteem for teenage boys and girls. Childhood self-esteem predicts future life chances. Our study finds that teenagers’ self-esteem is influenced by whether or not their parents are married. Link

Children brought up by both parents far less likely to suffer mental ill-health: The Millennium Cohort Study and is summarised here

Dads Hold Key to Reducing Child Poverty: Huffington Post Blog

Tying the knot before first baby is a key ingredient for marriage success. Read the latest research from the Marriage Foundation: Click this link

Married parents and family life are better for children. Research shows, “Children raised by married parents ‘are better behaved,'” say researchers from Oxford and the University of London – see the Daily Telegraph article on the research.

Headmaster Richard Follett harvests the most relevant recent research to inspire parents. Link: A ten point plan for a better family future 

British government’s own research into same-sex marriage – it will undermine family life, says the research sociologist: Read about it by clicking this link

Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology, reviews new research on same-sex households, revealing “Kids Do Best With Mom and Dad”: Click this link

Jobs and Babies by Mary Beth Celio

Internet Safety
NEW A new book Reclaiming Conversation Paperback, by Sherry Turkle. From the blurb: “An engaging look at how we have taken flight from conversation due to social media, texting and email, and how it’s damaging our relationships, creativity and productivity.” Click here Visit Prof Turkle’s website

Learning the law of the digital jungle. A new book, Raising Children in a Digital Age, urges parents to harness the power of the web to benefit their children, says Anna Tyzack who summarises the book and includes Dr Bex Lewis’s tips. Click here for the Daily Telegaph article  

Follow this link to the book on Amazon: Raising Children in a Digital Age by Bex Lewis

The website informs you about the different forms of objectionable content.

Professor Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics blogs on internet safety and media generally. Visit her Project Blog

Wi-Fi and Mobile Phone Safety
See my blogpost Wi-Fi – Why Fry Kids’ Brains and Bodies? here
Electrosensitivity in Ireland is a great source of information for Ireland. Their page on
Wi-Fi in schools:
For the UK and General Information:
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
SSITA – Safe Schools Information Technology Alliance
International EMF AllianceEnvironmental Health Trust
International Agency for Research on Cancer

Effect of socio-economic background on children: Poor and uneducated are biologically different to affluent, UCL finds

1. On Education
The Bright Stuff: Playful Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Extraordinary Mind by C.J. Simister. Give up school and spend a year working through this!

Maths for Mums and Dads by Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew.
Explains the difference between the way parents were taught maths and the way children are now taught. Makes the subject more practical.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson.
A minor element which is missing from education; creativity! Contains inspiring biographies too. Read it then make parents and students read it.

Education: The Basics by Kay Wood.
A great all-encomposing easy read by an expert.

What’s The Point of School?  by Guy Claxton.
A great educator asks a great question! His answer will make education more meaningful for parents and teachers.

New Kinds of Smart: How the New Science of Learnable Intelligence is Changing Education by Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton.
Knowing that intelligence isn’t fixed opens up a whole new world of possibilities. What is intelligence anyway?

What’s Wrong with Education and What We Should do About It? by Paul Kelley. Thankfully back in print. Looks at parts of education everyone else ignores. Should be read by our politicians who should know it already since most of them were teachers. He’d like to see more science behind education. Why are classes 40 minutes in length? I asked secondary teachers they didn’t know and hadn’t even given it a thought! It’s a waste of time. Recently a school in Durham implemented 8 minute classes. Mad? Not if you are up to date with neuroscience. Why do architects in Sligo and Mayo win awards for designing schools when they know nothing about  education or children? They don’t ask the teachers or parents for input and certainly not the main customer: the children! Kelley considers some modern schools – eg in Brixton.

For a more scientific approach to education/learning consider:The Learning Brain by Ute Frith and Learning & the Brain Pocketbook.

On Education by Harry Brighouse.
Explores various goals of education and some major issues.

NEW – A Primer for Philosophy and Education by Samuel D. Rocha
“An elegantly written invitation to students and the general reader to a frame of mind where one is ready to learn from and think about philosophy and education. Sam Rocha calls us all back, in heart-felt yet precise prose, to philosophy’s ancient role of dialogue, wonder, and reflection. A joy to read and treasure.”

The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Education  ed. Harvey Siegel.
If you want to think about most aspects of education then this collection of essays by serious thinkers will give you plenty of food for thought.

Children’s Literature by Peter Hunt.
Is children’s literature really for children? Did you always assume it was? Folk tales certainly aren’t.

Malcolm Gladwell has written many books of interest to parents and educators but his latest book David and Goliath explores the pros and cons of advantages and disadvantages as well as class size.

The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way says it all. Over the course of a year, Amanda Ripley followed three American high-school students  who studied in three countries which seem to have recently transformed their  educational systems to produce stellar results, namely Finland, Poland and South  Korea.

2. On Parenting
LATEST – Psychologist Adam Grant has also published a book advocating a similar idea in Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World. His article How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off is available at The New York Times.

LATEST – The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child, by Paula S. Fass. Fass is a historian of childhood who edited the useful History of Childhood in the Western World.

LATEST – The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children, by Alison Gopnik, philosopher and neuroscientist. Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parenting is profoundly wrong – it’s not just based on bad science, it’s bad for children and their parents too.

NEW – Adolescence: A Very Short Introduction by Peter K Smith. Smith examines a Adolescence: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)number of aspects of adolescence, including the cultural and historical context, the biological changes to the adolescent brain, and the controversies that adolescence brings. 

NEW – Professor Frances Jensen’s book The Teenage Brain; “… Offers both exciting science and practical suggestions for how parents, teens and schools can help teenagers weather the storms of adolescence, and get the most out of their incredible brains.”
Watch her video talk here:

NEWTeenagers Translated: How to Raise Happy Teens by Janey Downshire and Naella Grew. It may be old hat but take a look!

NEWThe Road to Character by David Brooks, The New York Times columnist, has received great reviews and is an antidote to all that exam pressure. see my post on character here

A review of some new parenting books Project Parenthood by Isabel Bewick

Toxic Childhood by Sue Palmer.
Covers all the practicalities of raising a child fit to live and function in the world.

What Babies and Children Really Need by Sally Goddard Blythe.
don’t agree with her blind faith in vaccination otherwise an important book for early years and therefore later years.

On child development by a respected authority in the field:
The Psychology of Babies: How Relationships Support Development from Birth to Two, by Lynne Murray.

NewChild Psychology: A Very Short Introduction by Usha Goswami, is short, authoritative and very readable. Highly recommended.

On the Loss of a Child
A Monster Calls by Siobhain Dowd.
On bereavement and loss – it is worth reading this lovely book – adults love it as much as children. Knowing she was dying, Siobhain Dowd wrote this for her children. Sadly it had to be finished by another great author. Childen and teens will love her other books.

Also on the death of a sibling look at The Brothers Lionheart.

Peter Stanford has collected a dozen essays from people who have suffered the loss of a child; The Death of a Child.

3. On Critical Thinking
Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston. (See C.J. Simister’s book also)
Instead of punishing students who misbehave, the head of Perse’s school in Britain gives them 20 seconds to argue their way out of trouble. Great! The students now learn to argue and think quickly and to stand as an equal to adults and authority – a great skill. Since our government doesn’t teach our children to think critically or logically try this great value introduction. Warning; “Change how people think and you change everything.” Steve Biko (Quoted in the movie Cry Freedom). Imagine a generation of students having been taught to think…

You could also watch the movie of this true story about a small African-American university debating team in 1930s America starring Denzel Washington and funded by Oprah Winfrey: The Great Debaters.

4. On Autistic Spectrum
NEW – Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman

Accidental Intolerance: How We Stigmatize ADHD and How We Can Stop, by Susan C. C. Hawthorne We have packed social values, such as interests in efficiency and productivity, into science and medicine. In turn, scientific results and medical practice reinforce the social values, and stigmatize those considered “disordered.”

This is a story about a father’s journey to heal his autistic son The Horse Boy
– and here’s a feature on it in the Daily Telegraph

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius

 A new book: Why I keep Jumping reviewed here is worth reading.

B. Useful Sites on Parenting, Education and Child Development
NEW National Fatherhood Initiative:

Challenge Success. At Challenge Success, we provide schools and families with the information and strategies they need to create a more balanced and academically fulfilling life for their kids. Visit the site

The Importance of PLAY. Short animated video on the brain and play

Teaching Styles – the Socratic Method. Short animated video on Socrates

Fifty Great Teachers – Read about them here

Listen to The Educators – short talks by respected educators on BBC Radio 4. Click here

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University click here

Marriage Foundation, a UK charity for promoting and protecting marriage:

The British government research project Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education can be obtained here:

Researched (link) The online home for anyone interested in educational research, what it means, and how it can – or can’t – make a difference in the classroom

Search Institute – Discovering what kids need to succeed

Listen to these eight short discussions by education experts on BBC Radio 4:
The Educators – programme guide

On behaviour, emotions, parenting etc:

National Parents Council, post-primary:

National Parents Council, primary:

Vaccination information:

Prof. Peter Gray’s blog – expert on play:

Finding your child’s spark by the founder of Search Institute, Peter Benson
Video of Peter Benson’s talk

Amanda Ripley’s website and excellent blog:

Children’s Rights Alliance

Dr David Lester, expert on suicide:

Raising Future Smart Children – C. J. Simister’s website: (her book was great!)

C. Links and Articles on Autistic Spectrum
Is the A.D.H.D. Diagnosis Helping or Hurting Kids? The question is debated by five “experts” in the New York Times.

Autism – get autistic children working says professor with autism.

I like the idea of this approach because it is, you could say, behavioural homeopathy! Read about it here; Finding Harriet

And this article: “Music releases autistic children from their chains

Autism: click here for some useful articles

Dyslexia in Ireland – Irish Times feature

ADHD: less medicine, more early intervention is better – I.T. article

ADHD: over-prescribing, misdiagnosis and lack of science – Irish Times and BMJ article, Are We Helping or Harming?

D. Useful Articles on Parenting and Education.
NEW The Overprotected Kid. A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without  making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution. By Hanna Rosin for The Atlantic

Parents’ low expectations ‘condemning toddlers to a life of underachievement’ 

The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals, By Katherine Kinzler, NY Times

Kids grow up not knowing difference between moral facts and opinions, says U.S. philosopher: Permanent link to Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

Teenagers “shunning difficult books”, say Dundee academics, favouring easier books:
Click here for article.

Children’s progress hindered by e-books charity warns
Research from the National Literacy Trust

Reading; don’t take the easy option – for once, a little science behind education!
Shakespeare and Wordsworth Boost the Brain

Why don’t more girls study physics? Click here for article

Schools kill creativity says Sir Ken Robinson
Watch his TED talk

Critical Thinking: sadly not a subject in Irish schools unlike in the U.K. and France where philosophy and epistemology are also taught. What’s the point of all this schooling if we can’t think critically and are still duped? See also the resources on the “For Children and Students” page.
Here’s a useful introduction though not complete
See also this book and questions for students on the accompanying companion website: Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide 

“If a country wants to change its education system in a hurry, it must be hungry for change,” says Gillian Tett.