If parents want to provide the best form of education to their children, they must research the educational findings toward that end. To do otherwise would be like showing up with a tennis racket to be on the swim team. But, of course, the beautifully crafted tennis racket would not be sufficient to participate on the swim team, would it? No, it would not.
This is also the case with educating our young children. Consider an ill-informed curriculum. Each year we show up with a curriculum for each child and believe that the beautifully crafted curriculum will comprehensively cover what the child needs for their education. Why wouldn’t we believe this? But, unfortunately, it is the way so many view education. Without considering what the educational research says, we are in jeopardy of unconsciously viewing our elementary children as buckets that must be filled to the brim with workbooks, tests, and comprehension questions. No better than a tennis racket at a swimming pool.
Let’s consider the swimming pool and the goal we all share as educators and parents. Our prayer is that each child will fall in love with learning in the early years and stand tall in high school, motivated to do their best. One of our hopes and prayers is that as they develop over the first eighteen years, discovering their gifts and talents, they will begin to see the direction God has for them after high school.
The burden of my heart is that we need to educate with the end in mind. Sooner or later, all of our children will grow up and head off into the world. By the time they reach high school, the way we are educated for the first eight or nine years should have blessed them with a love for learning and a passion for continuing to learn. The goal is that no child who reaches high school will be burned out on workbooks and ill-informed curricula. Instead, they will have energy in their learning and view laziness as something they must fight against. In addition, the excitement of knowledge will have been encouraged in the early years so consistently that they will have gained a work ethic to do the best they can do in their high school courses.
I hope to advance this conversation in future newsletter blurbs, discussing the differences in educating an elementary school student and a high school student. There are extreme differences, and these must be wrestled with as an educator. Our task in the early years is one of advertising well an incredible love for learning through the effective use of living books, creative projects, field trips, etc. We also want to move forward with wisdom regarding math. (Did you know that there are two elements about math that need to be determined: one is memorizing basic math facts and then learning the math concepts taught through the grades. Please do not say your child is bad at math if he has not overlearned the math facts. It would help if you began with the math facts first. I have many verifiable stories regarding this math process.)
Let me close with something to ponder as you educate your children. Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading, published in 1985, states: “Reading is a basic life skill. It is a cornerstone for a child’s success in school and, indeed, throughout life. Without the ability to read well, opportunities for personal fulfillment and job success inevitably will be lost. The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” (Anderson et al., 1,23). So, let’s prioritize workbooks and reading aloud to our elementary school children!
Written By: Loretta Lambert
Anderson, Richard C., Elfreida H. Hiebert, Judith A. Scott, and Ian A. G. Wilkinson. Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading. Champaign-Urbana: the University of Illinois, Center for the Study of Reading, 1985.