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 a 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.