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NEWS IN BRIEF

Bitesize summaries...

Multilingual babies 

Babies who hear foreign speech in their first 9 months find it easier to learn languages at school, reports The Telegraph. Psychologists from Bristol University found that a baby’s brain goes through a period of “programming” and filters sounds to help it understand words. Dr Nina Kazanani, a linguistic psychology expert, said that when a baby is born it can distinguish every type of sound, including foreign vowel sounds: “By 6 months an infant can only recognise vowels from its native language and within another 2 or 3 months the same happens to consonant sounds. So, within around 9 or 10 months, a baby’s universal language ability is reduced to its native language.” 

Need to nurture young entrepreneurs 

Teachers fail to nurture young entrepreneurs, says a Prince’s Trust commissioned survey. The FT reported that 73% of survey respondents felt that schools and colleges only promoted “safe” careers. The rigidity of the education system was blamed along with a teacher-aversion to entrepreneurial schemes generating financial rewards. 

Three cheers 

Cheerleading is the new big thing in school PE. Dancing, chanting and pom pom routines are now being promoted by the Youth Sport Trust to encourage girls who don’t like competitive sport to exercise. Cheerleading is now recognised as a discipline by the governing body, British Gymnastics. 

Pick up a penguin 

Only in The Sun . . . A trip to the zoo left teachers at a German school perplexed when they discovered that their pupils had smuggled a penguin onto the school bus . . . 

Vitamin D in pregnancy 

Women “should take vitamin D in pregnancy to stave off rickets in their babies,” reported The Daily Telegraph, after a US study looked into deficiencies in babies and toddlers. The research suggested that babies fed on breast milk by mums who did not take vitamin D supplements were more likely to show a deficiency than bottle-fed babies. For UK guidance on vitamin D during pregnancy go to www.nhs.uk/livewell/ pregnancy and our Featur ed section on page 12. 

The “Grey Pound” supports kids

A recent YouGov survey indicated that almost two thirds of grandparents now make financial contributions towards grandchildren’s pocket money, school fees and even first cars and homes. Whilst today’s parents are burdened with mortgages and high living costs, grandparents have benefited from decades of property booms and now hold a relatively high proportion of the country’s wealth. 

Other recent research found that 2 in 3 families with 2 working parents rely on grandparents to help with childminding, saving them over £2,500 a year. 

The Magic of movies 

Schoolchildren are being introduced to the classics in a scheme to show films for free in schools. FilmClub has secured government funding and will be rolled out to 7000 schools over the next 3 years. Children will be shown fairy-tales, silent movies, Hollywood classics, Bollywood extravaganzas to teach them the wonders of cinema. www.filmclub.org