Mother Catalogues Children and Animal Friendships in Russian Countryside

Many mothers will testify to the fact that throughout their busy days they have little time to sit back and enjoy their children or to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them in the form of simple, everyday moments. That is one of the reasons that Elena Shumilova, a mother in Russia, has taken over the internet with her amazing photography. Shumilova, a mother of two in the outskirts of Andreapol, purchased her first camera in 2012 and has been snapping breathtaking photos of her children ever since.

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“Children and animals – it’s my life. I’m a mom with two sons and we spend a lot of time on the farm,” Shumilova said in an interview. When shooting I prefer to use natural light – both inside and outside. I love all sorts of light conditions – street lights, candle light, fog, smoke, rain and snow – everything that gives visual and emotional depth to the image.”

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Shumilova explained that her education in architecture, as well as experience in painting and sketching, have defined her “feeling of photography and composition.”

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“I’ve been shooting every day and processing the images at nights. By autumn I felt I found my own way of approaching photography,” she said.

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View more of Elena’s photographs here.

Writing Difficulties and ADHD

A recent study revealed that children, and especially girls, with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have writing difficulties. These problems include poor spelling, grammar and handwriting.

As parents of ADHD kids already know, difficulties in reading or math are common signs for teachers when it comes to identifying the disorder. However, “written-language disorder is kind of overlooked,” according to study author Dr. Slavica Katusic.

She went on to explain that writing “is a critical skill for academic success, social and behavioral well-being.” She added that if writing problems aren’t identified early on, it can affect children into their adult years.

Specialists who were not involved in the study have confirmed the logic of the results. Annette Majnemer studied handwriting in kids with ADHD at McGill University in Montreal. She agreed that many children suffering from ADHD have difficulties in the field.

“It might be partially the fact that they’re inattentive and distractible and hyperactive,” she said, adding that other possible causes are problems with motor skills and coordination.

Dr. Katusic stated that genetics may also contribute to ADHD and writing problems. No matter what the cause, Katusic explains that treatment and early identification of learning disabilities can contribute greatly to children’s lives. It is important to identify all possible learning problems in a child before planning a treatment, she said.

“When parents notice something or teachers notice something, kids have to be treated not only for ADHD, but they have to be tested to see if they have other learning problems,” she said. “Clinicians and the teachers have to emphasize that the testing has to be done for everything, every kind of learning disability. It has to be identified early and the treatment has to start early.”

Eating Disorders Rising Among the Youngest Patients

Eating disorders among children seems to be on the rise according to a new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday. The report showed a large increase in the hospitalization of children for eating issues.

An increase in hospitalizations of 119% was observed among children younger than 12 years old for eating disorders between the years 1999 and 2006.

Another report was released last year by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed similar results. That study found an overall increase of 15% in hospital stays during the same seven year period with the largest increase among the youngest patients.

The academy is urging pediatricians to be on the look-out for affected children with routine screen for eating disorders and special treatment for those found with such disorders. The Academy stated that physicians can play an important role in preventing eating disorders by teaching their young patients about good eating habits, proper nutrition and the benefits of exercise so that there is not an unhealthy focus on weight gain and dieting.

Study Shows Kids Upset When Parent Leaves for War

New research has shown that, not surprisingly, there are more visits to the doctor for mental health issues in children of military families when one of the parents is deployed. I what is being called the most comprehensive study so far conducted on this issue, the conclusion of the research showed a 10% rise in doctor visits when one parent is deployed as compared to when that parent is at home.

Interestingly, although doctor visits for problems in children such as anxiety and school misbehavior increase when the parent is off to war, other complaints for all physical problems fell.

It is not rocket science to know that deployment puts a strain on families, especially on the parent who is left at home with the kids. But this study surveyed over half a million children, making it an excellent and reliable reflection of the general reality that military families face when a parent is deployed.

The study will be published in the journal Pediatrics was led by Dr. Gregory H. Gorman of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He and his team analyzed the health records of children between the ages of 3 and 8 who have at least one parent in the military services. The over 640,000 records compared how often and for what reasons children were brought to the doctor during 2006-2007 when parents were home and when they were deployed.

“This study gives us an excellent beginning to understand what’s happening” in military households, said Benjamin Karney, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s pretty amazing that they were able to look at essentially the entire military population and strongly document something we suspected was happening but didn’t know for sure.”

Science Museums are More for Fun Than for Learning

I was just at the Science Museum with my kids the other day. Even though it’s noisy and crowded the kids still seemed to have a lot of fun. They had fun for the simple reason that they could touch just about everything in sight. There were so many levers, buttons and things that make noise to keep them busy for hours, and all in pursuit of knowledge. Remembering my own experiences as a child in similar places, I always doubt the actual educational benefits of exhibits that show that, when you press this button, that thing over there lights up. All the child knows is that, “Wow, I pressed a button and the light lit up.” It’s up to the mom to actually explain that, “The reason the light comes on is because there is a magnet which turns on when you press this button and then off when you press another, making an alternating current…” and on and on, and when Mom looks up from reading the explanation she discovers that she has been reading to the thin air, and on top of that, the two year old twins are nowhere to be found! Help!

Not to worry. I found the twins. They were stuffing small plastic leaves into the bottom of a tube which had air blowing upwards, which carried the little leaves high up and out of the tube, until they fluttered back down to earth again. It was really fun to watch, but the science of wind propelled objects and the physics of aviation I am afraid was lost on their cute little minds. And the older kids were long gone, running all over the place, pushing and pressing, but never stopping too long to wonder. I wonder where “wonder” happens.  Maybe at home, on a quiet walk in the park, or at night while looking at the stars.

England Tells Toddlers “Drink Your Milk!”

England is now enmeshed in a debate on whether their ‘Nursery Milk Program’ is “outdated, ineffective, and too expensive” as Ann Milton, the Health Minister asserts. The program supplies 189ml of milk for free to children in childcare until they reach their fifth birthday. Begun in wartime England in the 1940s, the idea was to give young children a little bit extra by way of nutrition when food was rationed and in short supply.

Today, however, according to Ms. Milton, food is cheap and readily available, and there is ‘no evidence’ that the costly free milk program contributes in any way to the health of young children in England. Ann Milton believes it would be better to give families a voucher for the value of the milk supplied by the day care centers so that families can purchase milk as well as other sources of nutrition, such as vegetable, fruit, cheese and meat on their own.

The government decided, however, to go against the advice of the Health Minister, and to stick with the milk program. The government explained that milk is a special food which can easily give children a real ‘nutrition boost’ due to its ‘nutrient dense’ quality. Milk is an amazing source of lots of great nutrients, like protein, zinc, vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), and B12. Milk also aids in the absorption of iodine, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Milk is also a rich source of calcium which is crucial for growing children. Lots of calcium in the diet assures the development of strong bones. In just 189ml of milk which the milk program provides the children receive half of the daily recommended amount of calcium for children aged four to six. Although there are other sources for calcium and vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds, it is much easier to get children to drink a cup or two of milk than to have them “finish your vegetables!”

According to the government, which is retaining the milk program, “milk is the ultimate fast food.” It is a quick and nutritious snack which would be a pity to take away from nutritionally vulnerable young children.