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Test preparation takes up a good deal of their teaching time, reducing their autonomy and creativity in the classroom. Most tragically, teachers of young children are forced to instruct in ways that are developmentally inappropriate, neglecting the uniqueness of each student and downplaying the enormous value of play, exploration, and social interaction.
Educators despise reducing children to test scores, but the current climate in our country often makes them do just that. With this in mind, parents need to be more vigilant than ever, speaking up and advocating for their youngsters. When I started teaching kindergarten 25 years ago, parent-teacher conferences focused on the whole child—body, mind, and spirit.
We'd touch on a wide-range of topics: Sadly, conferences today typically involve teachers explaining standardized test results and reviewing student assessments. Parents often walk away feeling unsatisfied and wondering if the teacher knows their youngster in any meaningful way. These meetings, so limited in scope, indicate how deep learning is declining in our country. They reflect the need for parents to get more involved and to speak up about their concerns.
Anya Kamenetz, who covers school issues for NPR, says that standardized testing has negatively impacted the entire educational landscape. This greatly reduces the time for meaningful activities that promote critical and creative thinking and prepare youngsters for a future where those skills will be desperately needed.
When my son was in second grade, he was a smart and capable student but didn't interact with peers at recess. I became concerned about this so I arrived at his conference determined to discuss it. When his teacher wanted to stick to the script about test results, I pushed her to discuss the recess situation until we reached a solution.
In my mind, what was happening outside with his classmates was just as important if not more than what was happening in the classroom. Parents need to let teachers know that they want the scope of education to be broadened, not increasingly narrowed. If they don't let their voices be heard, educators will continue to focus solely on the cognitive development of their students and not the social, physical, and emotional. Sadly, elementary school teachers today don't always do a good job of articulating and celebrating the individual differences among their students.
Because of standardized testing and classroom assessments, they focus too much on comparing a child's progress to those of her peers and communicating that information to parents. Then, when moms and dads find out that their youngster is behind, they panic. They sign her up for after school tutoring, drill her with flashcards, torture her with long homework sessions, buy her workbooks, and send her to summer school. This results in a youngster who feels like a failure, is getting turned off to learning, and is gradually checking out of the academic world, believing it's not for her.
The idea that 'earlier is better' for reading instruction is simply not supported by research evidence. Parents need to realize that children learn at different rates and times and the one-size-fit-all approach in education is unrealistic and harmful.
Nowhere is this more evident than in today's kindergarten classrooms where teachers push for every child to read by the end of the school year. This goal, established by the Common Core standards, goes against overwhelming evidence that shows there's no benefit to early reading instruction. Parents need to learn the facts and not just assume that earlier is better when, in fact, it can do a lot of damage. In their report "Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose," the authors warn: Like any profession, education has its own lingo with words going in and out of vogue.
Some elementary school teachers, trying to sound impressive, use this specialized language when talking with parents and don't take the time to explain it. Some of today's buzz words include: While most teachers are humble, down-to-earth people who enjoy interacting with parents, there are some who are quite patronizing. Having a son with autism opened my eyes to this problem. When teachers spoke with me about my boy, they didn't know I possessed both a teaching credential and a master's degree in special education.
In a way, I was undercover and became thoroughly disheartened by some who talked to me in a high-and-mighty manner with no compassion for my situation. These teachers acted as if I had a low high I. They took the stance that they had all the answers, knew my child better than I did, and needed to "educate" me about the proper services for him. In her article "Talking to Parents: Leave your 'kindergarten' voice in the classroom and use a different tone with adults than you may use when speaking to younger children.
When teachers toss about unfamiliar terms, parents should immediately stop them and ask for clarification. They should feel free to ask as many questions as necessary until they understand. They can also bring an advocate—someone who knows more about the topic than they do and who can help bring about clarity. Since teachers tend to talk rapidly at meetings, parents should ask them to slow down. Everyone is busy these days—both teachers and parents—so you want to make the most out of a meeting and ensure progress is being made for the child.
My biggest complaint as both a parent and an educator is when one or two disruptive students take up too much of the teacher's time and energy. Sadly, this happens far too often and parents, unless they volunteer in the classroom, have no idea how severe the problem is and how much class time it wastes. Even with classroom management systems in place, a disruptive student can grind learning to a halt. Some elementary school teachers especially rookies are hesitant to ask for help from administrators, fearing they'll be negatively labeled as "someone who can't handle her class.
This is when parents should advocate for the teachers. They should go to the principal and state their concerns: Jones is an outstanding educator and we're so thrilled our daughter is in his class. However, we see that one disruptive student is taking up too much of his time. What can be done so Mr. Jones gets the support he needs and deserves? After all, that is his job! This is the book we parents need to understand what's happening at schools today.
High-stakes standardized testing permeates every area of our education system and drives how teachers teach and what students learn. As the type of teachers we knew as kids retire those that focused on the whole child , we're left with a whole new generation who are convinced that academic rigor, testing, and higher scores are what matter most. As our children now face higher rates of depression and anxiety, we parents needs to be aware of the academic pressures they deal with and how to counteract them.
As a mom, I'm glad to have this information so my sons and I can have discussions about standardized tests and put them in perspective. Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. I agree that homeschooling is an excellent option these days. I know many parents who do it successfully, combining traditional learning with online resources. I wouldn't characterize them as helicopter moms and dads but involved parents who realize that schools often teach to the lowest common denominator.
They saw that their kids weren't getting challenged and were in classrooms with students who were disruptive and unmotivated. This seems to be especially true in middle school when many students check out and it's cool not to try. We provide this service at no additional charge because we believe you should not have to pay extra to say your goodbyes.
On a practical level, this an important step in our security procedures. On an emotional level, this private time helps family members as they mourn the loss. This is especially true when a public viewing is desired as this time allows the family to compose themselves before greeting guests. All too often a family member receives the cremated remains and are left wondering Do you scatter the ashes someplace? Do you place them in an urn? What do you do with the urn? Sadly, failing to consider this issue creates a burden for future generations as they are faced with the task of deciding what to do with the cremated remains of deceased family members.
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Learn how to mitigate risk in outdoor education settings for children by addressing 4 common safety concerns: wild animals, poisonous plants, injuries, and. Last month I addressed race issues as the #3 challenge that parents state they are concerned about today. The #4 biggest concern is teaching. Learn the Top 4 Concerns of Waterbury Families. Concern #1 – Paying more than they need to. Families are often surprised to learn that the price for cremation.