Best of the Web

A selection of thought-provoking and useful articles from around the web on educating and raising children.

What’s the Right Age to Give Children a Smart Phone?

(Brian X. Chen, The New York Times)

This is one of the great parenting dilemmas of our age. The article focuses on the United States of America, but the question parents face is the same here: how do you determine the right time to give your child smartphone? The author went in search of expert views:  ‘The longer you keep Pandora’s box shut, the better off you are,’ says Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety speaker.

Green Eggs, Ham and Metaphysics: Teaching Hard Ideas with Children’s Books

(Byrd Pinkerton, nprEd)

How do you teach philosophy to children in Year 2?  Turn to Shrek. Tom Wartenberg runs Philosophy for Children, and uses children’s books to help his young students work through big philosophical questions. In the case of Shrek, he enjoys things others hate, such as putrid stew. Wartenberg uses Shrek’s view of the world to challenge the idea of inherent beauty. Can you like things that are ugly?

Why we Should Teach Empathy to Preschoolers

(Shuka Kalantan, Greater Good, Berkley, University of California)

What are the benefits of teaching empathy to young children? This article says various studies show the more empathy a child displays, the less likely they are to engage in bullying. Empathic children and adolescents are more likely to share or help others. The result is that educators have been devoting more attention to empathy. The more we empathise, the better off we are in the long run.

Can’t Focus? Maybe it’s your Body Clock

(Jessa Gamble, The Guardian)

If you thought study was simply an intellectual task, think again. This article looks at the impact of circadian rhythms, and explains that learning is a physical process that involves strengthening certain connections among the brain’s neurons. And that ability to change the brain varies according to time of day. The author provides tips on how to use time to your advantage – handy for both students and parents alike.