Learning Curve

While we were visiting our son and his family over the holidays, we spent some time driving around the town where he now lives, a new suburb north of Dallas, Texas. The median age in this community is 31 (which is exactly my son’s age, so he fits the demographic perfectly). Unlike their former home in southwest Florida, where life is geared to the rich retiree, everything in Frisco, Texas is aimed at the convenience, development, and lifestyle of  families with young children.

In addition to a plethora of schools, and high quality schools at that, there are also Learning Centers everywhere. These are not necessarily tutoring centers for at-risk students, although they do provide that service. These are supplemental learning centers, to enhance the school curriculum and provided extra stimulation to children at all levels. Similar to the “study schools” in Asian countries, where children go on weekends and after school, these learning centers are designed to give children more learning opportunities to prepare them for the competitive world that awaits.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how I feel about this concept. Let me backpedal for a minute- I am sure how I feel about it –  I don’t like it. However, I know that American students are lagging behind many of their international counterparts, and I get worried that state governments put too much emphasis on standardized testing. Sadly, in order to attain jobs in the future, this additional learning program might be necessary.

I say “sadly” because I think children need lots of time to play and explore in their own ways. In my perfect world if there was additional learning to be done, parents would find ways to work it into day to day life experiences. They would find online resources, like online math games for kindergartners, they would read widely and voraciously to and with their children, they would incorporate music and art and science into their everyday activities. Surely this combination of extra activity could help boost a child’s learning potential.

And don’t discount the extra parental attention involved in doing these kinds of activities together. Spending quality time with your children is probably one of the best things you can do to improve their chances at excelling in school.

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6 thoughts on “Learning Curve

  1. Fascinating. I agree with you. I believe that children need the time and space to play, explore, and imagine. I worry about the all school, all the time approach. Maybe it’s a quality vs. quantity issue. How about a better education in the time they’re already in school?

  2. Hear, hear! It is sad that so much emphasis is placed on standardized tests–which seem to prove nothing other than the child’s ability to take a standardized test. If we could show our children the wonder of a monarch butterfly, a cicada shell, the face in the moon, a dandelion puff, (a book!!) how much more curiosity and imagination there could be in the world.

  3. I studied education policy in law school and I so agree with everything you’ve said here. If I didn’t have to work, I’d love to homeschool my daughter. That way I could be sure she was learning for herself and not for the school to do well on tests.

  4. Well said, Becca. I agree–and the best way to teach kids is to teach them how to learn. The world is always changing so whatever facts or skills they learn aren’t as important as the ability to learn.

  5. It won’t surprise you to know I agree completely. I’d state it even more bluntly- kids can’t learn unless they have plenty of play and free time. They digest what they’ve been told and what they’ve experienced while moving around, acting out fantasies, using their imaginations. Play aids learning, it supports it. And after all, creating extra centres of learning lets schools off the hook – they’re the ones who need to shape up their programs.

  6. Nice to know I’m not alone in my thinking, friends 🙂 Thanks for the insight and the support.

    In my estimation, there’s plenty of time for working and structured learning, but childhood lasts such a short time I’d like to see children freer to enjoy it more.

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