Improving Learning

A comprehensive look at the latest trends, expert advice and recent studies into improving student learning. Explore the latest studies into links between student performance, sleep and music. See why schools are opting for later start times and year round schedules.
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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
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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
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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
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It’s back-to-school time, are your kids ready? One of the most stressful parts of back-to-school season is making sure your children get everything they need, without breaking the bank.
 
Teachers today seem to request more and more supplies than ever before. Whether physical or electronic, it’s a tall task to find and purchase the items at a reasonable cost. We’ve paneled some school, retail, and savings experts to get the best tips and strategies so you can get the best supplies on a smart budget.
 
Here are 10 expert back-to-school shopping tips.
 
1. Use supplies from last year
 
Before you do anything else, check last year’s school supplies to see if they are still in useable condition. Don’t purchase new supplies if the old ones can be made to last a while longer. Lunchboxes, backpacks, clothes, sports equipment, and other school paraphernalia can often make a return appearance. Sometimes, you’ll find unopened packs of pens, pencils, and other items that you may have forgotten about.
 
2. Make a list – and stick to it
 
Make a list before leaving the house. According to Dr. Deborah Gilboa, also known as parenting expert “Doctor G,” says a list is vital to staying on budget. “We tend to shop more responsibly when a list is guiding our purchases… [It] helps cut down impulse buying.” Many teachers also hand out supply sheets for their students and it is a good idea to bring this document along on
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The educational outlook for black boys has long been bleak. In Oakland, nearly one-third of African-American males drop out of high school. In Chicago, black boys lag behind other students in nearly every single measure of academic success. In schools throughout the nation, in large cities and small rural communities, black boys rank near the bottom in most measures of academic achievement and near the top in terms of the number of discipline referrals and suspensions.
 
Some of these statistics must be taken with a grain of salt, however. The American public school system has historically been less than responsive to the needs of black students, but particularly so for black males. Boys of color face many obstacles in life that include absent or unresponsive fathers, violence in the home and in their neighborhood, pressure to join gangs, and substance abuse. Yet schools regularly overlook these factors as being outside their realm of responsibility. Racial profiling by school officials, biased discipline policies, and a culture that engenders fear of young black males compound the problems for an educational system that is unprepared to manage the social, emotional, cultural, and academic needs of black boys.
 
Further compounding the issue is that institutional failures of public school systems serve to label young black students as something they are not. Black males are more likely to be removed from regular education settings and are more often misclassified as mentally retarded. These incorrect actions are taken due to a black student’s poor
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