As far back as the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophers like Plato recognized the inherent value of studying the arts. Theatre, music, dance, and the visual arts were seen as integral to Greek society and are still an integral component of education in our country today.
But not that long ago, amid nationwide budget cuts and an increasing emphasis on instruction and testing in math, science, and language arts, many school districts were forced to reduce arts programming greatly, and in some cases, eliminate parts of their arts curriculum altogether. The arts suffered because school officials, students, parents, and the public in general perceived the arts to be nothing more than an extracurricular activity, despite the vast evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, however, this trend has reversed somewhat, and school districts are once again developing thriving fine and performing arts programs.
The trend towards expanding arts education is certainly a positive one, as the benefits that students reap from participation in the arts are many. In fact, research shows that the arts promote positive development in the academic, social, and emotional realms. So important are the arts to a comprehensive educational program, that Katy Independent School District in Texas proclaims, “The arts are what make us most human, most complete as people.”
Signs of Support
The arts are gaining more and more recognition as a central component of the public school curriculum rather than as an add-on that students elect to take in high school or participate in just once or twice a week as an elementary school student. The No Child Left Behind Act treats the arts as a core academic subject, right along with math, science, social studies, language arts, and other disciplines. Furthermore, all 50 states have academic content standards for at least one discipline within the arts.
Public opinion is in strong favor of the arts as well. Ninety-three percent of Americans believe that the arts are critical for a well-rounded education. In fact, more than half of Americans rate . . . read more
Your child’s success in school is dependent upon a wide variety of factors. Certainly, the quality of programming at your child’s school, the quality of your child’s teacher, and access to quality resources are all critical components of your child’s success. But the factor that is most important for your child’s academic achievement is your involvement in their educational process.
According to the Michigan Department of Education, parental involvement is twice as predictive of a child’s academic success than socioeconomic status. Yet, the same report also notes that a lack of parental involvement is the largest issue facing public schools today. There are likely many reasons for this gap, not the least of which is that some parents just don’t know how to help their children when they bring schoolwork home. However, involvement in your child’s education does not begin and end with struggling to help them with homework. There are many methods you can employ to help your child achieve his or her academic potential, and here are nine ways you can naturally incorporate into your child's academic support.
Create a Routine and Stick to It
A major barrier that many parents face is simply finding the time in their schedules to sit down with their children to talk about school, review work, and provide assistance when needed. This has become even more difficult in recent years as children have become so involved with technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and social media that can occupy much of their time.
To overcome these barriers, develop a daily schedule whereby your child has a specific time to attend to their schoolwork. The time that your child uses for homework may vary, but their input should be sought as to when homework time will be. Bear in mind that it is generally accepted that homework should not be done right after school. Children need some time to unwind, have a snack, and let their brains recharge after a long day of academic work. Instead, setting aside time before . . . read more
While some school districts have moved to year-round schedules, most still adhere to the traditional nine-month calendar, with a winter break, spring break, and a lengthy summer break sprinkled throughout the year. These vacations offer much-needed respite from school, but even spring break, which is typically only a week, can have a measurable negative impact on a child’s mental acuity. At 10-12 weeks, summer vacation can result in a substantial brain drain that can significantly impact your child’s education.
What is Brain Drain?
As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. According to research, over the course of summer vacation, students lose between 2 to 2 ½ months of math skills from the previous year’s learning. This loss of computational understanding is experienced by children regardless of their background or family income. Some students also experience significant setbacks in reading ability as well. Students with a low socioeconomic status can lose up to three months of reading skills in just 2-3 months of summer break. These deficits also appear during the shorter winter and spring vacations, although not in nearly as robust a fashion.
The vacation brain drain is a serious issue for children of all ages, but the stakes are much higher for kids in high school. With SATs, ACTs, AP and IB courses, and other high-demand academic requirements, high schoolers can little afford to return to school having lost 2-3 months of academic skills. Fortunately, this brain drain can be substantially or completely reversed if children participate in meaningful learning over the course of their various vacations.
Meaningful learning doesn’t necessarily mean your child needs to attend summer school or spend each day of winter break hunched over a book. There are all sorts of fun and creative ways that you can keep your child’s mind active. Many of these methods make learning fun so that your child won’t even realize that he or she is learning!
Take Advantage of Teachable Moments
Keeping your children engaged in . . . read more