Handling your son's newfound passion for ballet
Interview with Dr. Rao in the Chicago Tribune
"Ballet and dance are perfect fits for boys developmentally," says Rao, who writes at anthonyrao.com. Movement "is part of how they express themselves and learn. Versus a lot of team sports where they're sitting or off to the sidelines for large portions of time, ballet offers natural, fluid movement for how boys are built."
And that's not all: "They like to express themselves in a physical versus a verbal way," Rao says. "Visually and spatially, studies show, boys need to explore the environment around them. They like to demonstrate their physical strength, and there's no doubt dance is the most demanding and difficult of sports."
Which may not stop other kids from teasing him, of course. All the more reason to sign him up. Read More
Magic Inside and Outside the Classroom: What Harry Potter Teaches Us
Article by Dr. Rao, Excerpt
I recently visited a school where very young Muggles have this experience. There's a new preschool, Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, at Audubon's Wildlife Sanctuary in Massachusetts. The children learn by doing, and their day is spent mostly outside. Even in winter, three to six year olds arrive bundled up. They begin each session outdoors, ready to explore snowy fields, and interact with a dynamic, living ecosystem. The children have purpose, are empowered to participate in chores, and help run a real farm.
. . . these kids seek out bee-covered plants, observe the busy activity of a hive, and get to see how pollen gets miraculously transformed into gooey sweet honey. They milk cows, collect eggs, churn butter, and then combine ingredients like potions to bake cake and cookies. They observe tadpoles in a nearby pond and in the aquarium in their classroom, and watch them magically morph into frogs.
. . . "For whatever reason [said one teacher], we haven't needed a time-out chair or behavior management charts." What she told me fits with recent research. Children who get at least fifteen minutes of recess a day show fewer behavior problems. Further, in some cases, regular outdoor time reduces ADHD symptoms at levels similar to stimulant medication. Read More.
Fighting Autism, One Punch At a Time
Article by Dr. Rao, Excerpt
Parents are frightened. Recent headlines report "Study Increases Prevalence of Autism" and "Nearly 1 Percent of US Children Have Autism." Parents of boys are particularly worried. The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) are diagnosed four times more in boys than girls.
In a health club outside Boston, I learned about one such seven year-old named Jake who struggles with significant developmental problems. He's slow and awkward in his movements, misunderstands requests, and can't pick up on the nuanced social signals the rest of us process without a second thought.
He's also fighting back. He's learning to move his small feet like a boxer. His little hands are wrapped in cotton strips and shoved inside swollen Everlast gloves. He stands upright and throws punches into the hand-held pads of his trainer, Carlos Hernandez. Read More.
"The Way of Boys"
Book by Dr. Rao and Michelle Seaton, Excerpt (pp.77-78)
The first question is how to burn off a boy's excess energy. A generation or more ago, children were sent outside to play and expected to stay outside and find something to do pretty much all day long, weather permitting or not. The parents of many of the little guys I see have fond memories of playing outside for whole afternoons or whole days. If they lived in a suburban setting, they used communal backyards to play spy games, touch football, or tag, or made up games with whatever was available, such as kick the can. If they lived in an urban area, they walked to a park or playground with older kids, or they just played on the block, where other kids would congregate after lunch and dinner.
. . . These days many boys don't spend much unsupervised time outside. Parents feel that they need to keep an eye on their boys, and they do. The trouble is that parents don't have eight to ten hours a day to supervise their children's play. Preschoolers wind up getting all their physical activity in short bursts of supervised time at a playground or during athletic lessons that generally last forty minutes to an hour. This is not enough time to burn off all the physical and emotional energy generated by a little boy. The result of all this pent-up energy can be a kind of hyperactivity seized on as the primary symptom of an attention deficit disorder. Book Info.
Setting Video Game Limits [PDF]
Tip by Dr. Rao
Start off on the right foot when giving your children gaming and computer systems as a gift. Set expectations from the start, and encourage healthy use of video and computer games by using this Gaming Agreement.