Slower weight gain found in youths in schools with nutrition programs

Middle-school students in schools with nutrition policies and healthy eating programs had a less than 1% increase in body mass index percentile after five years, compared with a 3% to 4% BMI percentile increase among those in schools without such programs, researchers reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The findings also showed healthier behaviors among those in schools with nutrition programs.

Read more – Psych Central

Away for the Day

Research shows that middle schoolers do better with phones away during school hours, yet for many schools this is not a requirement. Join the makers of Screenagers to promote middle school policies that require cell phones to be put away for the day in places like lockers.

Visit for more information.


Teen Girls at Highest Risk of Schoolbag-Linked Back Pain

Adolescent girls have the highest risk of suffering from intense back pain related to schoolbag use, according to a study published in the June issue of The Spine Journal.

Irene Aprile, M.D., from the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation in Italy, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 5,318 healthy pupils aged 6 to 19 years to examine back pain due to schoolbag use. Participants were interviewed face to face using an ad hoc questionnaire. Pain intensity was assessed using the Wong scale. Participants were classified into two groups: no or mild pain and moderate or severe pain.

The researchers found that more than 60 percent of participants reported pain. Schoolbag-related pain increased significantly from children to young and older adolescents despite a decrease in load. More frequent and more severe pain was reported by girls compared with boys. Adolescent girls were found to be at greatest risk of suffering from intense pain. Schoolbag load weakly impacted back pain, while carrying time was a strong predictor.

“Adolescent girls have the highest risk of experiencing severe back pain, regardless of schoolbag load. This suggests that other factors (anatomical, physiological, or environmental) might play an important role in pain perception,” the authors write. “These aspects should be investigated to plan appropriate preventive and rehabilitative strategies.”

Source:  Physicians Briefing

Get Involved in Your Child’s Middle School

father helping sonBeing involved in your child’s school and schoolwork when they’re in elementary school is easy.  Students in those grades need more help with assignments and attention from chaperones.  Plus they are generally more inclined to have adults present and receive their help.  In middle school however, all bets are off.  Students feel less of a need to have their parents around and there are typically less opportunities for parents to become involved.  Because of this you might have to think outside of the box or look for new ways to be involved with your child’s middle school experience. put together a helpful list on ways to be involved with your child when they’re in middle school.

Get to know the teachers. It’s a good idea to meet each of your child’s teachers.  Find out important information from them like how much time your child should spend on homework each night. Find out when tests are scheduled and ask what the best way to get in touch with them is if you have questions.

Find a niche for yourself at your child’s school. Unlike in the lower grades, middle school classrooms don’t need extra adults on hand. But you can volunteer in other ways. Serve as an adviser for an extracurricular activity such as the school paper, chess club, or science fair.

Volunteer to chaperone school dances and drive kids to school sports competitions. You’ll meet other parents, school staff, and your child’s classmates.

Go to school meetings and events. Attending concerts, plays, assemblies, meetings, and other activities is a good way to become familiar with your child’s school community.

Find out about homework assignments and school tests. If your school has a website where teachers list homework assignments, get in the habit of checking it regularly. If not, contact your child’s teachers and ask them to alert you when there’s an important project or test coming up.

Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for him or her. Offer to check math problems, proofread written papers and look over spelling words. If you find a mistake, point it out to your child and help her figure out the correct answer.

Let us know what other ways you are involved in you child’s middle school in the comments below.

Helping Your Middle School Child with Math

mathThe jump to middle school can be hard for many students in many different areas.  One area that can be particularly difficult is math.  As a parent you want to help your child understand and do well in all subjects.  Some parents are “math” people and innately understand it while others struggle to be able to help their children.

Before you can help your child, it is important to understand what is happening to their brain in middle school. had the following to say:

 “Middle school is an exciting time; adolescents’ brains are transitioning from reasoning in a concrete manner to understanding abstract concepts and ideas. According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, middle school math typically begins with concepts such as fractions and decimals, and by the time students’ move on to high school, they have learned pre-algebra concepts, such as manipulating variables and solving or writing equations to find unknown values—ideas that cannot easily be visualized or explained with physical objects. Keep in mind that this is particularly hard for students stuck in a concrete state of mind; they tend to rely on memorizing steps or procedures to solve problems, which can lead to more difficulties later on.”

 The tips below are great for all parents, whether you’re a “math” person or not.

  • Always have notes from class, a textbook or other resources right next to a homework paper. If your child gets stuck, she is likely to find a similar problem in one of these resources that can help her move forward.
  • Ensure the student takes responsibility for her own learning by finding assistance independently; the ability to access help on your own is essential for student success in all areas of academics.
  • Never give children the answers to problems! By giving away answers, you’re depriving your child of the chance to develop the mental processes required to learn a new concept. No parent enjoys seeing their child struggle, but providing answers could set them up for frustration when they have to tackle more difficult problems and might even stunt their progress.
  • Encourage your child to underline or highlight key words or phrases in situational problems, as these often help students set up a solution.
  • Realize that your child may struggle with abstract concepts if his or her brain is not quite ready to reason at an abstract level. Your child’s brain will mature in time, and success in math class is likely to accompany this development.
  • If your child is frustrated by mathematics, show him how to focus on concepts rather than procedural knowledge. This might help some students approach and solve problems in a different way—one that makes more sense to them. For instance, ask your child to explain one problem in their assignment each night. If possible, choose one that incorporates both words and computation. If your child is simply reciting step-by-step instructions, encourage her to elaborate by asking questions focusing on the “why” of the problem:
    • What is the goal of the problem?
    • Why does that step work?
    • Why would we want to do that next?
    • What does this step in the process accomplish?
    • How do I know if my answer is reasonable?
    • Can I check my work to make sure it makes sense to me?
  • After your child has completed an assignment, ask her to share what she believes was the most important idea:
    • What is the goal of the problem?
    • What did these problems have in common?
    • Where would I use this in “real life”?
    • Why do you think your teacher gave you this assignment? What did he or she want you to learn?
    • How is this assignment related to the homework you had yesterday? In what ways is it similar or different?
    • Now that you can solve these problems, what do you think you might be able to do next?