2020 May 21 by Dr. Randy
The new normal systems are going into effect for our children. This is not a happy occurrence. Schools, since their inception in the industrial revolution, have been based on regimentation and an assembly line mentality. Children are fed information, and recent “innovations” in the form of common core and “teaching to the test” have continued to stifle the ability of teachers to encourage creative thinking in children. Now children are going to practice some bizarre form of separation as well, wearing face masks and keeping their distance, and sanitizing their hands. They will be discouraged from touching things in the public setting of school, unable to play together outdoors, encouraged to be suspicious and fearful. This brings up some stark issues.
What has become of the philosophy of children learning from play and free expression of their creativity? Where are the music lessons and art classes now in the new normal? Funding for these activities has dried up in recent years, and now these types of group activities will be even more difficult. With increasing rules and restrictions, schools are starting to seem like bleak places. And summer camps will be hobbled by the same requirements. And forget the exuberance of sports. Once there were admonitions to get exercise, keep children fit through movement and dance, encourage the camaraderie and cooperation of teams. Now children are expected to spend endless, mind-numbing hours on computers and pads and phones and Zoom classes doing tedious work and research.
At some point, perhaps parents may rebel and say enough of this. We won’t support a culture of separation and deprivation. We may decide that freedom, play, celebration, and worship in community are basic human needs. How long will the world’s communities tolerate this robotic lifestyle? And what happens the next time some virus mutates or the next virus appears?
2020 May 6 by Dr. Randy
Parents now have a tremendous summer opportunity for children. This is a chance to try out a guided homeschooling program yourself, with no commitment to leave school. Since everyone has already been working with their children this year to manage learning at home, you already have a taste of the drawbacks of online learning and children who are glued to computers. And you have a sense of how to guide your children through their assignments and classes.
Many parents have expressed their frustration to me about the difficulties their children have with online classes. And many parents are getting an eye opening view of what their children are actually studying in school now that they can observe them doing schoolwork at home. In many cases it is lots of busy work, inappropriate assignments, and studying through a screen. This may be the first time you have actually seen what is required of your children in school, how much time is wasted, and how much budding talent is stifled by mind numbing work. School is often a frustrating experience for children in many ways. The rigid schedule of classes often results in actual disruption of learning. As soon as a student gets absorbed in a science subject, the class period ends and the student must switch gears to an English text. A significant percentage of school time inevitably involves classroom housekeeping and discipline that has nothing to do with education. And children are often expected to engage in work that seems irrelevant and meaningless to them.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Homeschooling can be fun, enjoyable, relatively stress free compared to classroom learning. Homeschooling may not be appropriate for everyone, but given the limited options for kids this summer, this may be the perfect time to try out a guided learning program for yourself.
My colleague, educator Elizabeth Hanson, has designed a summer program for you to explore homeschooling.
Here is a description of the benefits of homeschooling.
Here’s a video of what she offers.
And here’s how to sign up for her summer program.
2015 August 12 by Dr. Randy
Here are some suggestions for the beginning of the year and all through the next school year. If your children go to school, remember that you are the managers of your child’s education. Teachers come and go. You are the mainstay and constant. You understand best what your child needs. And you can help teachers to maximize your child’s educational experience. If you homeschool, then you already know that you are the one responsible for creating success.
The primary goal for school is to have fun. If your child thinks that school is fun and she looks forward to going in the morning, then you can feel reassured that something is right. If your child thinks that school is boring, then there is a problem. If your child says she hates school, then something is definitely wrong.
Don’t take things too seriously
I will repeat. School should be fun. Children generally like school because they get to socialize and learn stuff too. It’s exciting to learn new material. If schoolwork is difficult, then reassure your children that it will get easier over time and they can get help to understand things better.
Eat healthy meals
Most children eat breakfast at home. If they do, then you have the ability to provide them with a healthy start to the day. Try to avoid cold cereal. Children like it and it’s easy, but processed grains in the form of flakes and puffed cereal are depleted of nutritional value. And sweetened cereals are full of empty calories and lead to low blood sugar by midmorning. Offer kids hot cereal, eggs with vegetables or cheese, yogurt and fruit, and whole grain breads. Ethnic foods like Mexican huevos rancheros or Indian curry and rice often go over well, and lots of children eat these dishes every morning.
Pack a nutritious lunch with cut up fruit and veges and yogurt and sandwiches. Avoid the prepackaged fruit rolls and desserts. Make some cookies with your kids. Help them make wise decisions about a healthy lunch and get creative with sushi and granola and trail mix. And keep it fun and varied.
Children need rest. Turn off the screens an hour before bed and relax with a story. Don’t forget the bedtime rituals of a hot bath and a snack and cuddling with a good book. School-age children and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep. Sleep is more important than grades.
Don’t stress about homework
Homework arguments are a huge stressor for families. Believe it or not, no one has ever shown that homework improves learning. But most schools have a minimum homework requirement for teachers. Parents often find themselves in the position of doing their children’s homework after protracted struggles and tears. If homework doesn’t get finished, it’s not the end of the world.
Help the teacher understand your child
Teachers have a classroom full of kids. It is a hard job to get to know each one’s learning style and personality. If your child has a particular style of learning, then tell the teacher. Put yourself in the position of making her job easier. You know your child. If she needs help to stay on task, then inform the teacher of what you have learned about the best way to make that happen. You know if your child is a visual or auditory learner, if she responds well to praise, or needs hands-on tasks or frequent breaks. Share what you know about your child’s individual needs and most teachers will be grateful for the help. If you have the ability and time, volunteer in the classroom. This is a great way to observe the dynamics of the classroom, and teachers will appreciate your generosity of spirit.