By the time children in America grow to the age of 18, they have spent 9 percent of their time in school and 91 percent of their time outside of school. Our schools have been asked to dramatically improve their impact on students and change how they use their nine percent of a child’s time. What about the other ninety-one percent of the time? What else can parents and adults do to better prepare the children of America for what lies ahead?
Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’
In the fast-paced world in which we live, adults often are hard pressed to find the time to work, manage a household, raise a family and pursue leisure activities….all within the confines of a 24 – hour day. Children are no different. Between going to school, doing homework, working part time, visiting with friends, attending athletic practice, participating in school clubs, taking music or dance lessons, doing household chores and watching a favorite television……a child can find himself without a minute to spare during a typical day.
Children need their parents’ help in learning how to organize their time. By equipping them with some vital time management skills now, they will be better prepared to meet the increasing demands placed on their lives as they grow older.
- Weekly chart. Map out a schedule each week, with specific times allotted for school, homework, work, chores, extracurricular activities, television, dating and going out with friends.
- Permanent work space. By mid-elementary age, your child should have his own palace for studying.
- Organized notebooks.
- Regular homework time
- Learning comes first. If your child starts producing incomplete assignments, neglecting his homework or slacking off in his grades, it is time to make hip drop some activities. If schoolwork improves, he can resume the disrupted activity.
Do not let your child over structure her time after school and on weekends. Children need a few moments to wind down between activities. Encourage them to have a healthy snack, listen to music or read a magazine before rushing off to soccer practice or a music lesson. Remember that part of the joy in being young is the freedom to do nothing at all.
The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.
I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children should be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than we had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.
Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast-paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.
As spring brings out all that is fresh and new, thoughts turn to spring cleaning and packing away our winter hats and gloves. But as we look forward to getting ready for spring, we should not forget all of the progress we have made throughout the school year. It is important to look back so we can see how far we have come. Consider setting up a filing system for your student. These files can prove to be a rich source of inspiration and reflection for any student.
Grade school students may wish to save cherished artwork and see the progress they have made. With a quick flip through their file, they can see how their cursive writing has become neater, how they can read books with chapters, and how their artwork has improved.
Middle school students will be able to track the development of their skills. Simple addition and subtraction give way to geometry and pre-algebra. Essays extend beyond a page; science projects involve complex equations and chemicals.
As their studies become more complicated, students may find their files have grown dramatically in size, an indication of the increasing complexity of their knowledge. They may be surprised to learn how much material they have studied.
High school students may wish to save long English papers which can be revised and turned into college admissions essays. Favorite books can be a source of inspiration; an essay about The Great Gatsby from the 9th grade could be the source of an inspiring AP essay for college credit. Chemistry and biology experiments may be the basis for scholarship applications for science programs.
Over the long run, students can examine these saved files and see how their interests develop. A science fair project from the fifth grade could spark a lifelong interest in chemistry, reflected in more and more complicated projects throughout junior high and high school. History papers about the Civil War can spark an outside interest in re-enactments.
As they look back on these files, students can see how much they’ve improved year by year. The 3rd grade book report about Old MacDonald’s Farm may be a far cry from Animal Farm in 11th grade, but students will be able to see how they have developed into mature young adults with a broad range of knowledge. These learning files show students how they’ve grown and where they are heading.
How can you help your child build a “take-charge” attitude and assume more responsibility for learning? Read and discuss these self-management strategies together:
1. Set Goals
Help your child learn to set goals and work to achieve them. Let your child know that successful people set goals. To succeed goals should be:
- Short-term – do-able in a brief period of time
- Specific – “75% on the weekly math test” or “completing a research report on schedule” are clearly defined goals. You will both know when a specific goal has been met.
- Realistic – set only slightly above current level of achievement so that improvement can be recognized frequently.
- Planned – to include the when, where, why, how, and how long of meeting the goal successfully.
2. Be an example
Give examples of goals you have set and met. Tell results and benefits of meeting goals. Let your child know that you feel good about what you achieved.
Discuss stories about people in the news who have set and met goals so that your child sees the value of taking responsibility for achievement
3. Introduce checklists
Checklists build responsibility and provide the sense of achievement that comes from checking completed items off a list.
4. Encourage a positive approach
A “can’t do” approach weakens a child’s will to “take-charge” of learning.
5. Understand instructions
Your child can’t gain a sense of responsibility, work independently, and “take-charge” in learning situations without understanding directions and instructions. Help your child know what to do with everyday instruction words by explaining, using, and reviewing the key words and phrases of instruction, such as:
- circle P cross out P underline P delete P omit P graph
- compare/contrast P explain P outline
6. Ask questions
When students sense that they need to know more about a topic, their motivation increases and they want to take responsibility for more learning.
7. Give praise
Praise used effectively can increase your child’s motivation and build a sense of responsibility for learning.
Praise for successful or improved performance, not just working on a task. Wait until you see that enough effort has been put forth, or enough work accomplished, so that praise is truly deserved.
8. Build on success
Once your child’s skills are beginning to expand and you see a “take-charge” attitude toward learning, you can help build on this success.
- Give opportunities to practice skills informally
- Encourage interests, activities, and hobbies that provide practice in learning
- Give increased responsibility
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- Respect your child by treating him or her with the dignity you would a friend.
- Have faith in your child. Don’t be afraid to give your child increasing responsibility and independence.
- Concentrate on the positive; avoid using discouraging words or actions.
- Recognize your child’s efforts, not just his or her accomplishments.
- Build self-esteem and feelings of adequacy by using positive phrases such as…
- “I can tell you worked very hard on that.”
- “You are getting much better at that.”
- “I appreciate what you did.”
- “You really handled that situation well.”
- Discourage competition (in all forms) between brothers and sisters.
And, remember, don’t feel guilty if you “blow it”, but use your energy to try again more effectively.
As a parent, you want your child to learn from the experience of pressure as part of the process of growing up. You also want to do whatever you can to help your child cope with the pressures in life and to prevent the pressures from becoming insurmountable. Obviously, you cannot eliminate many of these pressures, even if you really wanted to. But you can help your child face them and you can avoid adding to them to make them worse.
- Provide guidance in dealing with pressure. Your child could take one of three general approaches…retreat, capitulation or action…to reduce the stress. You can help your child determine what action would be most effective in a given circumstance.
- Let your child know you care. Be available to help her or him work out difficulties. When a child has the security of parental love and respect, pressure can be met with self-confidence. Be supportive, not smothering. The more children feel they have solved problems themselves, the more assurance they feel the next time.
- Be a positive force in your child’s life, not a major pressure point. Throughout school years, avoid making unrealistic demands. It is fine to start education early, but don’t pressure children to learn or to read before they are ready. Let them feel they are reaching for their own goals, not satisfying your needs. Don’t push children into early social experiences…they will mature emotionally and physically at their own rate.
- Teach your child to live with limitations. No one excels in everything; no one is perfect. It is not your child’s particula
- r handicaps that are crucial, but his or her attitude toward them. Children should know their limits and recognize their strengths.
- Help your child find time to be alone….time to think, to dream, to plan, to make decisions.
- Ground your child in a system of values. Even if pressures become overwhelming, you do not want your child to seek ethically unacceptable means of dealing with them. Students who have cheated report a wish for more parental direction, firm rules and guidance in determining right and wrong.
- Encourage your teenager to develop self-responsibility. Volunteer service, such as community work, provides one of the few remaining outlets in adolescence for independence, cooperative rather than competitive activity and useful and socially necessary work.
A father and his small daughter were out walking one afternoon when the youngster asked how the electricity went through the wires stretched between the telephone poles.
“Don’t know,” said the father. “Never knew much about electricity.”
A few blocks farther on the girl asked what caused lightning and thunder.
“To tell the truth,” said the father, ” I never exactly understood that myself.”
The girl continued to ask questions throughout the walk, none of which the father could explain. Finally, as they were nearing home, the girl asked, “Pop, I hope you don’t mind my asking so many questions….”
“Of course not,” replied the father. “How else are you going to learn?”
Sooner or later, of course, the girl will stop asking her father questions, and that will be unfortunate. Curiosity and the desire to learn should be encouraged and nurtured.
Parents who want their children to do well in their studies but who don’t respect learning are deluding themselves. Not many children will be motivated to do it on their own. Those who have stopped learning and growing, will find it difficult to inspire their children to do so, no matter how much they may pretend to encourage it.