American academic standards are plummeting. Rigorous academic programs for young kids put too much pressure on today's youth. Depending on who you listen to, we are either expecting too much or too little from our kids today. A 1979 questionnaire, designed to determine school-readiness for first-graders has many people talking. One question, "Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?" has highlighted some of the societal changes over the past 30 years, as many parents would not allow a first-grader to travel unattended at all, let alone consider it a prerequisite for school. That issue aside, people looking at the other questions on the survey, note that our expectations for school-readiness have increased dramatically in recent years. But, some wonder if these expectations are actually producing any results.
A 10-year-old transgender boy in the U.K. started school this fall dressed as a girl. The boy, who has believed he was born the wrong gender since he was two-and-a-half years old, started this school year as a girl, with the support of his mother. His mom says he has long dressed as a girl at home but kept his alter-identity hidden while at school, for fear of teasing. In two years' time, he also plans on starting a hormone blocker therapy as the first step in changing his gender. At the start of the new term, the school's headmaster held an assembly, explaining the change to students, in an attempt to prevent bullying. However, many parents at the school are upset that they weren't consulted prior to the announcement. While some support his decision, others think 10 years old is too young to be making such big decisions and controversial public announcements. What do you think?
Middle school P.E. class. The very words can conjure traumatizing memories for many adults. Knowing that the experience is miserable for lots of kids, gym teachers around the country are taking a new approach to physical education. Gone are the days of unflattering uniforms and competitive sports. Ultimate Frisbee is replacing team sports and the new focus is on individualized improvements in fitness, rather than standardized performance goals. Some teachers are even assigning homework, asking kids to exercise outside of class and record their activities in journal.
Sales of yellow and green baby clothing in Europe are expected to skyrocket if a resolution prohibiting parents from discovering the gender of their unborn baby is enacted. The proposal is an attempt to prevent couples from "selectively aborting" babies based on their gender, a practice which has become particularly problematic in Eastern Europe. While most agree that the intentions behind the proposal are good, many are upset about the implications it will have on families wanting to plan ahead for their new arrivals.
When in doubt, blame it on Facebook. The father of a 12-year-old girl who posted racy photos of herself on the site, is suing the social networking giant for failing to uphold its 13 and older policy. While Facebook requires that all members be over 13, there aren't any measures in place to check the validity of ages entered. In addition to the photos, the girl publicly posted identifying information, including the name of her school and where she lived. Her father had previously shut down a different Facebook page she'd established before she set up the new one on the sly.
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. She is currently developing an alarm clock that will start an IV coffee drip 10 minutes prior to wake-up time. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at www.18years2life.com.