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.

Tips to Manage Autistic Children During Thanksgiving

Like many holidays, thanksgiving too can cause sensory overload in an autistic child. Having a houseful of guests, or visiting the homes of friends and relatives, along with constant activity, is stressful for everyone. But for children with autism spectrum disorder, even a marginal level of stress can cause a meltdown.

Here are some ways you can make the day easier and calmer for you autistic kid.

Plan your day with the child in mind

You’re likely to be excited to see your relatives and the large family gathering. But it may be a pressing time for your child. It may end in a disaster with the child feeling angry and frustrated with all the noise around. Think of alternatives. Spend some time playing with the “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” apps with your child. Some quiet activities will also help.

Make sure there’s food that your child eats

Autistic kids are often averse or sensitive to certain foods. You may not know what your child may like to eat on that day. Let there be an assortment of foods. The child will feel better seeing all his/her favorite foods available. And you don’t have to worry about what he/she may or may not eat.

Keep a getaway space

Keep your child’s room out of bounds from guests. If you are visiting your relatives, inform them beforehand to keep a room aside for the autistic child. If possible, bring the “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” autism apps on your iPad or smartphone, so that the child can play by himself and learn at the same time. Spend some time with your child in the room. It will help him/her get over the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Provide a schedule

If possible, use pictures and explain to your child the general time of thanksgiving, like when the guests will come and leave, the time for the dinner, the music that may be played, and similar things. Explain changes to the routine ahead of time.

Prepare a booklet for regular visits

If you plan to visit many people’s homes this thanksgiving season, prepare a booklet of pictures and explain to the child the persons he/she is about to meet. You can use pictures for this purpose. The child will be more prepared during the actual event.

There’s no need to panic on the day of the event. Just give time and space to your autistic child like any other day.

Helping Children Learn Math

Teaching math to children is sometimes a very difficult task. It is an entire subject that does not have the same easily explained concepts as some other topics. Each teacher has a slightly different way of instructing students about the basic and advanced concepts in mathematics. There are a few simple ways that parents and teachers can help children to learn math beyond what is in the core curriculum.

Develop The Correct Vocabulary

Math has its own distinct vocabulary. The word problems that are listed in teacher resource books go very far to try to explain real world examples of situations that require math as a solution. Ultimately, there will come a time when a student requires the correct understanding of the vocabulary of mathematics in order to describe procedures, solutions and even problems. Simple words like sum, divisor and product are all useful. This vocabulary will serve as the educational base needed to move forward with more advanced concepts. Allowing children to go forward without the correct vocabulary will result in problems in higher grades.

Integrate Lessons Into Everyday Life

There are limits to the operational memory of a child. There are also some basic facts about memory that will present problems if the lessons are not reinforced later in the day. New concepts like division or multiplication need to be refreshed within a few hours after they are first introduced. Homework normally helps with this. A better way would be for parents and teachers to integrate mathematical concepts into everyday life. This could include asking a student to divide resources between a group of classmates for a project, or it could include attaching creative games to other activities and subjects so that there is some awareness of the importance of math outside of testing. Additionally, establishing an environment that reminds children about mathematical concepts is helpful. This might mean hanging math posters around a room, or making games available that will help a child to practice the skills that have already been taught.

Move Beyond Procedural Understanding

Some students are able to move through many years of school with just a procedural understanding of mathematics. This means that the operations that are necessary are memorized, but they are not understood. It is important to teach children exactly how and why certain operations work. Rote memorization of division and multiplication will not help when more advance algebraic concepts are taught in high school. There are teacher resource books available that provide the tools needed to explain how division or fractions actually work.

Tips for Teaching Young Children

How do we teach in a way that hooks into a child’s natural desire to learn?

Children are naturally curious. They explore, experiment, touch, ask questions, and are motivated to learn. To them it’s all play, and they don’t need adults praising them for their efforts.

Wondering how you can help children succeed? Consider the following characteristics of how they learn to help you teach in ways that improve their ability to make sense of new concepts.

1. Young children learn when subject areas are integrated

Offer children thematic units rich with content and they will be interested and motivated, especially if you can bring real things to touch and explore that relate to the theme.

Basic literacy and math concepts can be taught and reviewed as the theme content is shared. A “winter” theme offers many opportunities to teach the letter W, to count and record the number of mittens on snowmen constructed in an art lesson, or to create patterns for paper scarfs.

A child learning about the life cycle of a butterfly may act it out with creative movement and poetry, paint the process with a large paper and paint, illustrate and label the stages in science and literacy lessons and listen to related stories and songs. Avoid pursuing a theme if the children have lost interest. Ask yourself if you are presenting enough “real objects”. New themes get everyone motivated and enthusiastic.

2. Children learn in lots of different ways

Visual learners watch closely when you demonstrate an activity and like to draw and play with shapes and puzzles. Auditory learners understand ideas and concepts because they remember information they have heard, follow spoken directions well and remember songs easily.

Although all children learn through touch, some learn best combining touch and movement (tactile/kinetic learners). Some children like structure while others learn more easily in an unstructured environment.

If you want busy, happy and on task children, give them a variety of lessons that meet the needs of different learning styles.

3. Children often do not have the vocabulary to express themselves

Inexperienced teachers sometimes misinterpret a child’s unwillingness to participate as stubbornness or bad behavior when in reality, the child may lack the skills to explain himself. Use reflective listening to help children communicate why they are upset.

Sometimes children work well in groups, learning to share and develop ideas. At other times they just need to be alone with ample time to figure things out for themselves.

Do not expect perfection. Relax and have fun with your students!

4. Children progress when concepts are taught in a structured, step-by-step way

When concepts are presented in a structured step-by-step process with each step building on previous knowledge, children learn with less effort.

For example, expecting a young child to understand the concept of a food chain without previous experiences with, and vocabulary about, chains and links is assuming too much.

5. Children’s abilities to observe and process information develop at varying rates

Some four-year old children have superb small motor coordination and draw and cut beautifully, but have delayed speech patterns. Other children may be verbally eloquent but be physically uncoordinated or be at a scribbling stage in drawing.

Just as children develop physically at different rates, they also progress academically, socially, emotionally, and artistically at varying speeds. Effective teaching happens when teachers remember that learning is developmental.

Offer open-ended activities to meet the developmental stages of all students. An open-ended activity involves children at a wide range of developmental levels. Children are less frustrated working at their own level and they do not have to compare their results to a set of identical worksheets.

6. Children learn best when given things, objects, and stuff to explore

When teaching young children, always use concrete materials, as children need sensory experiences when learning new ideas and concepts.

Take advantage of the many educational learning materials available to teach geometry, number sense, pattern skills, symmetry, classification and other math concepts.

Use science materials like magnets, light paddles, scales, weights, and collections of birds’ nests, as well as book character toys and puppets to enhance literacy.

7. Children need instruction, practice and time to learn new skills and concepts

A child doesn’t learn to ride a bike by only looking at the bike and exploring its properties, he/she also needs time to practice and guided instruction.

Practicing concepts and skills does not need to be dull and repetitive. Do not automatically think “worksheet” when you think of skills practice. There are lots of ways to practice skills using puzzles, games, diagrams, art and more.

8. Children won’t learn if they are over tired, hungry, upset or worried

Be flexible and understanding with young children. Check to see if kids are hungry. It’s easier to let a child eat part of her lunch early, than attempt to make a hungry child concentrate on a task.

Sometimes a child needs to be left alone and creating a small retreat space in the classroom can help students who are too overwhelmed by home or other circumstances to cope with their peers or teacher.

9. Motivated children pay attention

Young children are generally motivated to learn about everything. Unless they have often been made fun of when investigating or presenting their knowledge, they have a strong desire to find out and share information.

Reinforce thinking processes rather than praising the child. Saying “That’s an interesting way you sorted your blocks. Tell me what you were thinking” rather than, “Samuel is so smart” will focus the children’s attention on exploring the blocks. Making too much fuss of any one child can result in a competitive atmosphere.

10. Children learn by teaching others

When children have an opportunity to communicate their new knowledge to adults or other children it helps solidify concepts. Some children need extra time to find the correct words to explain what they are thinking so patience is necessary.

To help children share their knowledge, use descriptive words as they play or work and they will copy your vocabulary.

11. Children Need to be Active

If children have been sitting still too long, they will let you know it’s time to move. Even the best, well planned, interesting lessons fail if the children need a break.

Take plenty of movement breaks, go for walks around the school, march around the classroom or jump up and down! You will have more alert and focused students.

Summary

As children experience your love and acceptance and realize that you are willing to help them, they relax and learn. Keep a sense of enthusiasm, wonder and curiosity about the world around you, and your students will imitate your behavior. Your classroom may be one of the few places where their opinions and ideas are valued.

What Children Need to Succeed in Mathematics

All children can succeed in mathematics. How do I know this? My empirical experience approaching thirty years tells me this is so. My intuition tells me this is so. You just need to know what to give your children, and more importantly, what not to give them.

Children are natural problem solvers. If you leave them alone, they will figure out the most amazing things. If you nurture them properly and give them the space to grow, they will become natural mathematicians. The trick is to let them believe—at least initially—that learning and education are fun and will lead them to have more fun in life. How simple that sounds! Yet this premise is that simple.

Unfortunately most parents get bogged down in their own problems and do not subscribe to this philosophy. Such parents become frustrated when their child shows a lack of interest in school work and school related tasks. These problems spiral and eventually become overwhelming. Rather than address the problem and correct the negative programming that has been instilled on the child, parents resort to criticism and reprimand.

No child can ever succeed in mathematics with criticism. The one thing that this world has way too much of is that one word—criticism. If you do not believe this statement, try this experiment for one week: refrain from all criticism. Do not criticize your coworkers, your friends, your relatives, yourself. Do not criticize the government, the world, the planet. Watch if your life does not somehow take on a whole new dimension of vibrancy, peace, and enthusiasm.

Pass this enthusiasm onto your child. Tell your son or daughter how creative he or she is. Instill in your children that they are leaders, capable of solving any problem that presents itself. Mathematics is a subject which is self-propelled by high self-esteem. Children who have high self-worth, high self-esteem tend to be better problem solvers. Why this is so is self-evident: a child who believes in himself will approach tasks and problems with a gusto that says he can lick the task. Consequently, this child approaches the problem with the attitude that he will win and the problem will lose. End result: more success in whatever task at hand.

In conclusion, every child can succeed in mathematics. Give your children a never-say-quit attitude. Give them encouragement. Give them love. Do not give them criticism. These three former give, this latter withhold. This is a secret for success in mathematics, in school, and indeed life. Use it.

Easy and Practical Tips to Help Your Children With Their Math Homework

It doesn’t matter what level of school your child is currently enrolled in, it’s always a good idea to get them thinking about math. The reality is that if they want to go on to further education and a great career, a solid background in math is going to be absolutely crucial. You can help them get there by really taking the time to help them with their math homework. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to pull this off, as they are likely to already have some sort of grasp of what they are doing in class. Here are a few tips that you can use to help tutor your child with their math homework:

  1. Teach the basics first – you have to be able to walk before you can run, so make sure that your child understands the basics of math, as this will help them when they progress to more complex subjects. Flash cards are a great way to achieve this goal.
  2. Neat numbers – mathematical equations can be confusing enough without making them impossible to read. Try to make sure that your child writes down numbers and equations neatly, as this often makes them a little easier to see and understand.
  3. Master before moving on – make sure that your child fully grasps the problem they are working on before moving on to the next math problem.
  4. Get interactive – having your face stuck in a text book can be more than a little dull, so try to make learning fun by using object around the house that can be used to help solve math problems.
  5. Ask for a little more – ask your child to answer a few extra questions when they are doing their homework assignments. Going that extra mile will help ensure that they really do understand the mathematical concepts they are being taught.
  6. Test them regularly – when you are out and about with your child, pose them some questions to see how quickly they answer. For example, if you are grocery shopping and see a price has been marked down, ask them to quickly tell you how much the difference is between the old price and the new.
  7. Make time to study – try to get in the habit of studying at the same time every day, making sure it is at a time when you have no other commitments and can commit all the time to your child.
  8. Maintain a steady pace – don’t try to rush your child ahead, even if you are sure they are ready to move to the next level. Maintain a steady pace and always take time to recap what they have already learned.
  9. Keep at it – if your child is having a particularly difficult time with a particular concept, stick with it until they finally get it.
  10. Encourage – always be sure to praise your child for a job well done. Math can be tough for a young mind, so encourage them every step of the way.

If you have tried to really get involved with your child’s math homework, but still find that they are struggling, it might be time to consider a math tutor. You might just be surprised at how affordable math tutoring is, and you may be even more surprised at the great results your child will be able to achieve.