Education is a huge topic today and more increasingly it seems, certain aspects of education fall to the parents of a child rather than the formal educators. Children are being well prepared for standardized tests in core subjects, but to dedicate resources to this critical area, often programs must be diminished or cut entirely. You can’t rely on the schools to introduce your child to various forms of art or music. In fact, you can’t even trust that your younger children will have time to play outside during the day. In many schools, even recess is being cut in order to prepare children more “adequately” for future testing.
The Impact of Testing
While there are many to argue the cases of standardized testing, that is not our concern today. You can trust that your child will be prepared for tests as that is the primary focus of schools and educational systems today – it has to be, funds are tied to performance. Instead of worrying about the need for the tests, instead focus on how to fill any gaps that might have been left behind by the anxious preparation. For many students, these are the arts, sports, elective activities, and even social studies, health and some sciences.
Fortunately parents are in a better position today to take up the mantle of teacher to give their children a full education – all the better to perform in the more standard academics.
In some schools across the UK, schools have been forced to cut budgets or eliminate art programs including performing arts and the more traditional art classes. Choir, band and orchestra might not be offered on campus or the programs are simply a shadow of what they once were. An art class might be rudimentary if offered at all. Theatre arts and culinary arts have fallen into the same hole of missing finances.
Fortunately, the data supporting these programs is very strong, and clear evidence is shown linking the arts, especially performance arts, to higher standardized test scores and greater overall success in school. Therefore programs are making a comeback in many areas. If your local school does not have a program currently, begin or join the petition to have one added. Of course, if your child will be missing out in the meantime, you can enroll him in a school that does have strong program or seek out community alternatives. Even private lessons and a small group at church or in the community to play with can have serious impacts on your child’s education.
Sports have had a two path system for many years. There are the sports offered at school as well as the community sports programs that are often just as highly respected and recognized. If your child’s school is sorely lacking in sports programs or doesn’t offer his sport of choice such as swimming or football, enroll him in a community program instead. As you are likely offered more choices with a community or city program, you can speak to and select the teams or networks that would be most beneficial to your child in the long-run.
Social Studies and Health
Health and many subjects in social studies such as geography and local history have no place in standardized tests. This often means the subject is glossed over in favor of tested material or taught by a less qualified teacher to leave the better teachers for the “more important” subjects. Fortunately, health and social studies are areas you can easily supplement at home.
Research the many curriculum guides and websites available to help children learn more about the world around them and their own bodies. Discuss healthy meals as your child helps you chop vegetables or peel potatoes. Talk about the importance of exercise and the impact of building muscles as you hike up and down hills together. Practice taking your pulse and show her how to warm up and cool down properly.
As you walk you can also share local history or interesting things you know about the area or country. On the weekends arrange trips to see landmarks and visit museums. Even with the best teacher, a trip to see history in the form of authentic castles or real artifacts is much more meaningful in the long run. Field trips have also been nixed in many cases due to budget considerations, and as a parent you already know that seeing is believing. If your child isn’t visiting museums and other landmarks, simply take him yourself. You might invite along her friend as the two of them might even make the trip more interesting and exciting for each other.
If you are concerned that your child isn’t seeing enough science in the early years due to the primary focus on reading and writing, consider supplementing her science knowledge by sharing your own. Take nature walks and poke around in the woods. It’s simple to do science experiments in the kitchen, and a trip every few weeks to a different area can show your child a huge amount about different rocks, habitats of animals and weather patterns. Science is a very practical art that can easily be supplemented or taught by parents for children in primary grades. As your child ages, science once again becomes a primary focus as it appears on tests and is taught by experts with serious dedication to a single field. Your child might be lucky enough to learn under a scientist in the primary grades, but this is not always the case.
Work With the School
It’s important to realize that your child’s school is likely doing the best it can under the circumstances. Testing initiatives are often put into place without the budgetary additions to tackle the problems. This means schools must juggle resources and often very good programs get the knife. Becoming active in the school is just one way to help protect programs that enrich the lives of students and help to foster interest in subjects outside of the highly tested areas.
You can work at your child’s school as a volunteer or you can stay in touch with teachers in all manners of classes to keep current on topics and subject matter. If you are able to plan ahead, you might be able to provide enrichment to your child that correlates with what’s being taught at a particular time. You might even be able to bring that opportunity to all of the children in your child’s class.