No Child Left Behind Should Mean Something for All Children

For years the United States has focused on education as a vital element for success and yet schools in inner city areas are still failing. The government and politicians have publicly indicated that actions will be taken to improve the educational system in the United States. Programs were implemented but unfortunately some schools are still struggling to meet the standard academic mark. We have to question if the government included inner city students in their budget, because there is clearly an economic inequality within the educational system.

According to the State of New York Failing Schools 2015 Report “in 2014 only 35.8 percent of students were proficient in Math and 31.14 percent were proficient in English Language of Arts”. This report indicates that two-thirds of the students in inner city schools are struggling in Math. The reports also stated “that wealthy elementary schools continue to demonstrate high reading achievements and math proficiency rates measured by the percentage of students’ proficient on the 2013 MEAP assessment”. One has to question, where is the balance in the educational system? In wealthy areas students are provided with the proper resources to educate preschool students as early as three to five years old.

Sadly children who are the same age in preschools in inner city areas do not receive the same opportunities. Students from inner city areas deserve the same opportunities as students from middle class and upper class areas. The government has to ensure that the funding is being distributed equally in order for under privilege children to receive a fair chance at a good education.

There is no question that there are disparities in the educational system, and socioeconomic status is one of the elements that contribute to the disadvantage of under privilege children. It is a crucial element that hinders children from low-income families from achieving their educational goal set by the New York State Department of Education. I am not implying that funding should not be provided to wealthy elementary schools; I am only stating the fact that the same funding should be provided to elementary schools in inner city areas as well. We cannot continue to tell our children yes you can be anything you want to be, you can be lawyers, and doctors if you work hard: when the people who have the power to make a change refuses to walk the walk. They just spend excessive wasteful time talking the talk.

A few former presidents and politicians have given compelling speeches about the struggles of the educational system in the United States. They have stood their ground informing the world that as a nation, “we also have an obligation to make sure that all of our children have the resources they need to learn”. But yet not all of our children are getting sufficient resources to learn. In previous years several speeches have come and gone about the struggles of the educational system. However, the educational system still faces the same challenges today. There are just too many empty promises.

There are some schools in inner city areas that have limited access to technology and the latest quality textbooks to properly educate the students. Even though more teachers were hired to educate inner city students most of those schools that employ them today still have not received sufficient funding to properly educate the children. When those schools fail because of lack of funding they are closed and transformed into Renewal Schools.

The new educational programs are given three years to show some form of improvement with bringing the inner city students at the grade point level. And if the expectations are not met those schools will be closed as well. Now the teachers are in a position where they have to find teaching positions in other schools and the children in the inner city schools are still left behind. This is a fact: if the schools in inner city areas lack the resources how can the teachers successfully bring the children who are struggling to meet their grade level to reach the goals set by the New York State Department of Education. It is not logical for any rational human being to believe that children who were not taught the fundamentals of basic math, reading, and writing in first and second grade will not struggle in higher grades. The educational system cannot continue to pass children who are struggling to read and write through the system. They need additional remedial help.

The material becomes more challenging. The students become frustrated because they simply do not comprehend the material, because it was not taught to them in their earlier years in elementary school. This is probably why some of the students act out, and display destructive behavior. To some degree the educational system should be held accountable for passing students through first and second grade without providing them with the proper tools for them to succeed in higher grades. But a crucial question should be; are some of the parents equally responsible for not taking the appropriate measures to help their children succeed with their school work?

The answer to that question is, it depends on their situation. A lot of the children in inner city schools come from broken homes. Some of the children’s parents do not speak English well so it is difficult for some of the teachers to communicate with the parents. Imagine if students have parents that cannot read or write in English, how can they help their children with their homework?

Literally those parents are not in a position to help their children because they cannot help themselves. So those individuals rely heavily on the teachers to become second mothers and fathers to their children and pick up their slack. Again inner city children suffer in more ways than one. It is not that those individuals in that unfortunate situation do not care about the well-being of their children they simply cannot help them because of their inability to function with their own illiteracy.

In addition, some of the children are from dysfunctional homes. There are also situations where inner city children have parents who suffer with drugs or alcohol addictions. In some incidents those children have to become parents to their own parents. The children have difficulty functioning at school and they are easily distracted because they are constantly worrying about the well-being of their parents. Some of the children are sexually, physically and verbally abused in their own homes by people who should protect them. Unfortunately, those particular children develop psychological problems which hinder them from performing to their full capability in school.

Sadly, most inner city schools do not receive ample funding to provide the counseling services that those abused children desperately need. When the children express their angry through their behavior they are labeled as problem children. It seems like the government refuses to invest their money into children they believe will not be productive in society. So those children suffer, and sometimes they lash out because they believe that no one cares. Children in inner city areas has the ability to learn just like their more privileged peers but they just need someone to believe in them, and encourage them to focus on learning, and staying out of the troubles of the streets. In general, when children are left behind some of them usually turn to the streets. So who fails the children, the educational system, some of the parents or a combination of both. More has to be done to help inner city children because their lives matter too.

How Soon Can a Child Learn Math? Part II

As was noted in the previous article, age requirement for beginning mathematics with your child will be depended upon a few things: 1) your readiness to come up with creative ways to teach and command attention and; 2) your willingness to exercise patience and a loving attitude. Early childhood learning, whether its mathematics or reading, works best when abilities are allowed to unfold naturally and isn’t hampered by the pressure of expectations one way or the other.

Below are practical tips for preparing your child’s mind for basic mathematics. These exercises can work well with preschoolers as early as three. However, a child a little younger can also be instructed if the child demonstrates proficiency with the 1 – 10 counting sequence and exhibits an eagerness as well as a quickness for learning. It is essential to utilize good teaching practices particularly for children this age for optimal success.

Institute a routine to impress upon the child that these sessions will indeed become a part of his/her day. All in all, let your intention be to make this an exciting time to begin your child on a productive journey of learning experiences.

Tips for early preparation conducive for creating junior mathematicians:

o Build upon toddler activities of counting using fingers 1-10 by purchasing computer programs, DVDs, workbooks for toddlers – ages 2.5 through 4.

o Using other objects in your environment to count: apples, oranges, toys, etc. During car trips, count the number of a particular color of cars. Count the number of seconds between green and red lights. Do this throughout the day so that it becomes a habit! If the child is not receptive, (ill or temperamental) do not attempt to engage him/her. Remember to associate learning with the good feelings of fun and enthusiasm.

o After they have mastered counting 1 – 10 and are able to do it with ease, make a first attempt at teaching basic addition.

o Introduce basic addition as a new game! Grab a total of 4 oranges (or apples, etc.). Initially keep the sums to numbers under 5.

o Start with one orange. Place it in front of the child and ask him/her how many oranges he/she sees. Confirm pleasantly that it is ONE orange.

o Now grab another orange and state clearly that you will now add another orange. Place it a little apart from the first orange and then ask how many oranges are there? If the answer is TWO oranges – state that he/she is correct and reward with praise. Be sure to give hugs and kisses.

o Here is the important part of the exercise. Slowly enunciate how 1 orange PLUS 1 more orange equals 2 oranges! Get them to comprehend the concept – slowly, calmly and patiently. Never add a negative tone. If you do, the exercise becomes heavy and undesirable; possibly sabotaging a constructive attitude needed for future proficiency in math.

o Add additional oranges (or other fun objects) as learning capacity expands, gradually moving up to sums equal to five.

When complete mastery of basic addition has occurred now would be a good time to introduce workbooks (and other instructional tools) featuring basic addition. Once the child gives cues that he/she is ready to move on, subtraction beginning with differences under 5, could be a next step.

Just a few more suggestions, if the child has a hard time understanding the concept behind the word PLUS use a substitute like “add ___ more” and so on. The bottom line is to ensure that a basic understanding of addition takes place. Again, keep it fresh and fun by “adding” all kinds of things around the house. Ensure that it becomes a habit by doing it daily! Stop before the child tires of the “game” simply because it creates eagerness.

Research a good kindergarten curriculum to determine which concept to tackle next and don’t hinder with superficial (i.e. age-appropriate curriculums) limits, especially if he/she is content and capable of learning it.

Bear in mind that with early childhood education, especially mathematics – consistency and progression is key!

Tips to Help Your Child Understand Trigonometry

Trigonometric concepts were first used by Greek and Indian astronomers. Its applications can be found all through geometric concepts. Trigonometry has an intricate relationship with infinite series, complex numbers, logarithms and calculus.

Knowledge of Trigonometry is useful in many fields like navigation, land survey, measuring heights and distances, oceanography and architecture. Having ground knowledge in the subject is good for the future academic and career prospects of students.

Trigonometry has basic functions like cosine, sine, tangent, cosecant, secant and cotangent. Learning all these six functions without fault is the way to do success in doing Trigonometry.

Making a child understand Trigonometry is not a difficult task if one follows certain tips as follows.

1. Helping the child understand triangles with life examples: There are many objects that contain right-angled triangles and non right ones in the world. Showing the child a church spire or dome and asking the child to understand what a triangle is the easiest way to make a child understand the fundamentals of Trigonometry.

2. Brushing up Algebra and Geometry skills: Before starting Trigonometry, students should be confident of their basic skills in Algebra and Geometry to cope with the first classes in the subject. A student has to concentrate on algebraic manipulation and geometric properties like circle, interior and exterior angles of polygon and types of triangles like equilateral, isosceles and scalene. Algebraic manipulation is a basic mathematical skill required for entering any branch of Math. A basic knowledge of Geometry is equally important for understanding the basics of Trigonometry.

3. A good knowledge of right-angled triangles: To understand Trigonometry better, a student should start with right-angled triangles and understand their three sides (hypotenuse and the two legs of the triangle). The essential aspect of it is that hypotenuse is the biggest side of the right triangle.

4. Knowing the basic ratios: Sine, cosine and tangent are the mantra of Trigonometry. These three functions are the base of Trigonometry. Making a child understand these ratios with perfect comprehension helps the child move on to difficult topics with ease. The sine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the side opposite to the length of the hypotenuse. The cosine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the side next to the length of hypotenuse. The tangent is the ratio of the sine of the angle to the cosine of the angle.

5. Understanding non right triangles: Knowing sine rules and cosine rules helps a student do non- right triangles without difficulty. As such, children learn other three ratios (cosecant, secant and cotangent). Next, they have to move on measure angles in radians and then solving Trigonometry equations and thus their understanding Trigonometry becomes complete and perfect.

Practice plays a major role in understanding Trigonometry functions. Rote memorization of formulas does not lead to success in learning Trigonometry. Basic understanding of right triangles and non right triangles in the context of life situations helps students do Trigonometry without hassle.

With the online interactive learning methods available for understanding Trigonometry, it is not a hard task to learn the subject. If it is all the more threatening, students could access Trigonometry online tutoring services and understand the subject without hassle.

Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Read Math With Your Child

We have already discussed the importance of developing a good math foundation for your preschoolers. The first, easiest, and best way to add math into your child's early life is to add math to the reading you already do with your child. It is never too early to begin reading to your child, and it is never too early to add math concepts to that reading.

It isn't necessary to run out and buy a bunch of preschool math books, although you might mention to friends and relatives that math related story books would be a good gift idea. You probably already have books with math concepts. For example, Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a wonderful story for introducing math concepts. It allows for early counting. It has size comparisons with too little, too big, and just right. It has one-to-one matching with baby bear and the little bed. Certainly you won't use this terminology, but as you read you can point out these concepts. Three Blind Mice , Three Little Pigs , Three Little Kittens , and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed are other good examples you might already have.

Before spending lots of money on books, I suggest checking your local public library. You can check out books, read them with your child, and if the book seems to be one of those books your child wants you to read over and over, THEN you can buy it. Certainly use your library before buying anything you haven't read from online sources.

If you are interested in buying your own math related books, I have several suggestions. I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss books. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb introduces large numbers. Ten Apples Up On Top! is a good counting book. One fish two fish red fish blue fish is good for counting and colors. Horton Hears a Who! even introduces the concept of infinity. Many other Dr. Seuss books contain number concepts, colors, and shapes for reading with your child.

You may have read about or heard of Baby Einstein. If so, you need to know that having your young child watching the videos is a very bad idea ! Research is showing that there should be NO SCREEN TIME for children under two and very limited time for the older child. However, the Baby Einstein My First Book of Numbers is a wonderful example of what a number picture book should be.

The Sesame Street book ABC and 1 2 3 is also an excellent math related picture book.

As you look into buying math picture books, there are some things you need to consider. The book should be colorful, interesting to you, and it needs to make sense – not just rhyme. Don't assume that because it is about numbers that it is a good book. For example, I came across a book called One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boyton. I actually got confused as I read! One line said "… and when you want to explore, the number you need is FOUR." WHY? What does four have to do with exploring? Another page said "Seven is perfect for a play." Again, I questioned what that even meant. Any book you pick needs to be something you can talk about with your child. Choose books that you can read with enthusiasm. If a book doesn't make sense to you, don't buy it. I want to reiterate that it is not necessary to buy lots of number related books because you can find number concepts like counting and making comparisons in virtually any book.

As you read to your child, you should work on what is called "the language of space." This refers to words like front, back, top, bottom, over, under, in front of, behind, first, last, in, on, corner, edge, surface, and so on. These are all important concepts for your child to understand when they start school. They can't line up behind the blue line if they don't know what 'behind' means.

When you are reading to your child, be sure to:

  1. Hold your child in your lap.
  2. Convey to your child how much you enjoy your reading time together.
  3. Read everyday.
  4. Get involved with the story. Read with lots of enthusiasm and expression. Use different voices. Be active by pointing out things on the pages. Ask questions.
  5. Pay attention to your child's responses. Know when to put the book away. If your child loses interest, do something different.
  6. Be prepared to read the same book over and over and be enthusiastic each time.

Above all else, make reading FUN!