The Multiples Mystique
Long Live Twins, Really
If you’re the parent of twins, or just someone who finds twins endlessly fascinating, check out this recent University of Washington study: scientists there say twins tend to live longer than singletons, and identical twins live even longer than fraternal sibs.
The UW findings are based on data from the Danish Twin Registry. Experts looked at 2,932 pairs of same-sex twins who survived past the age of 10, who were born in Denmark between 1870 and 1900, and had completed their lifespan. They then compared the twins’ ages at death with info from the larger Danish population.
David Sharrow, a UW postdoctoral researcher, who led the study, thinks the findings may reflect health benefits of having close social supports, in much the same way marriage offers couples emotional and physiological advantages.
Previous studies have shown that married people, particularly married men, live significantly longer than their single friends.
Pets, Not Sibs, Are Your Kid’s Bestie
The next time your child says she needs a cute little kitty or an adorable puppy, you may want to go for it. A new study from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. suggests pets are good for children. Reason: many kids get more out of their relationship with their furry four-legged friends, and get along better with those friends, than they do with their siblings.
Researchers surveyed 12-year-old boys and girls from 77 families with one or more pets of any kind, and more than one child living at home with the family. They found that the study kids reported stronger ties to pets than to their siblings, lower levels of conflict with pets, and greater happiness with pups than other types of animals.
“Evidence continues to grow showing that pets have positive benefits on human health and community cohesion,” said Dr. Nancy Gee, a coauthor of the study. “The social support that adolescents receive from pets may well support psychological well-being later in life but there is still more to learn about the long-term impact of pets on children’s development.”
Gifted and Talented
Hot Topic Revisited: Should Students Be Grouped by Ability?
The debate over how to best serve academically talented children is back in the news again, with a new report from Northwestern University researchers suggesting that schools should use ability groups and acceleration (skipping grades) to support these students.
Ability grouping puts students of similar skills and abilities in the same classes. Acceleration gives youngsters the chance to progress more rapidly. Critics of the practice say ability grouping removes academic leaders and strong role models from existing classrooms, increases achievement gaps, and lowers self-esteem among struggling students.
The report, “What One Hundred Years of Research Says About Ability Grouping and Acceleration for Students K-12,” appears in the Review of Educational Research. It is based on 172 studies on ability grouping and 125 studies on acceleration. In their paper, researchers said evidence “suggests that academic acceleration and most forms of ability grouping like cross-grade subject grouping and special grouping for gifted students can greatly improve K-12 students’ academic achievement.”