Sunday February 18, 2018

Children who grow up in Poorer Homes more likely to experience Puberty earlier than their Peers: Study

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Melbourne, May 24, 2017: Children who grow up in poorer homes are more likely to experience puberty earlier than their peers, said an Australian study on Wednesday.

The study, published by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), found that boys in disadvantaged homes were four times as likely to being puberty at age 10 or 11, while girls were twice as likely, Xinhua news agency reported.

Researchers surveyed the parents of 3,700 children who were part of the ‘Growing Up’ Australia programme on how their children were maturing and the age at which they started to show signs of puberty.

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Ying Sun, a visiting academic at the MCRIs from China and lead author of the study, said 19 and 21 per cent respectively of all boys and girls surveyed showed signs of puberty at age 10 or 11 but boys from disadvantaged home were 4.2 times more likely to be part of that group than boys from a favorable background.

She said the difference could be attributed to the bodies of children from poorer families perceiving themselves to be in a dangerous environment.

“I look at it as an evolutionary point,” Sun told Xinhua.

“I think humans are very sensitive to our early childhood environment… and when we feel we are in a dangerous environment our body tells us to fasten our speed of maturation to produce more kids to ensure our genes are passed on to the next generation.” The research has prompted concerns for children growing up in lower socio-economic areas, with early puberty being linked to a series of health complications later in life.

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“Early maturation not only links with emotional, behavioral and social problems during adolescence, it also carries several risks for later life such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and especially reproductive tract cancers, that is the most important thing,” Sun said.

Researchers were able to identify children from disadvantaged homes by gathering data on the annual income going into the household where they were raised.

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A lesson in the woods may boost kids’ learning

Moreover, the number of times the teacher had to redirect a student's attention to their work was roughly halved immediately after an outdoor lesson.

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Just sitting in classrooms makes children more dull. Wikimedia Commons
Just sitting in classrooms makes children more dull. Wikimedia Commons
  • To help students concentrate and learn more, teachers have found a new way of teaching them.
  • This technique of teaching outdoors will boost children’s mental capabilities to learn and remember.

Are your students unable to concentrate on their lessons in the classroom? Take them for outdoor learning sessions.

According to a study, a lesson in the lap of nature can significantly increase children’s attention level and boost their learning.

While adults exposed to parks, trees or wildlife have been known to experience benefits such as increased physical activity, stress reduction, rejuvenated attention and increased motivation, in children, even a view of greenery through a classroom window can have positive effects on their attention span, the researchers said.

The study showed that post an outdoor lesson, students were significantly more attentive and engaged with their schoolwork and were not overexcited or inattentive.

Taking students outside help them concentrate more. Wikimedia Commons
Taking students outside help them concentrate more. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, the number of times the teacher had to redirect a student’s attention to their work was roughly halved immediately after an outdoor lesson.

“Our teachers were able to teach uninterrupted for almost twice as long at a time after the outdoor lesson and we saw the nature effect with our sceptical teacher as well,” said Ming Kuo, a scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers tested their hypothesis in third graders (9-10 years old) in a school.

A few minutes outside help students concentrate better. VOA
A few minutes outside help students concentrate better. VOA

Over a 10-week period, an experienced teacher held one lesson a week outdoors and a similar lesson in her regular classroom and another, more sceptical teacher did the same. Their outdoor “classroom” was a grassy spot just outside the school, in view of a wooded area.

A previous research suggested that 15 minutes of self-paced exercise can also significantly improve a child’s mood, attention and memory. IANS