Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Help Your Children Excel in School!

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational reform that instituted high, common standards for all students at each grade level, raising expectations for school systems across the country. While that’s a good move in the long term, adapting to new standards and helping your children keep up can be challenging. Here's what you should know about Common Core so you can help in the effort to raise more successful students.

What are Common Core Standards?

The Common Core Standards were designed to make sure every student is prepared for success after high school.  The standards apply to English and language arts as well as mathematics. Visit the Common Core site to learn more.

What are STEM classes and how do they relate to Common Core?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There's been an increased focus on STEM classes in today’s classroom. Experts believe STEM classes provide better preparation for higher learning. In addition, there are more jobs related to these fields and STEM education produces a better quality student overall.

What role do the arts play in today’s classroom?

A number of recent studies have demonstrated the need for arts education in addition to the STEM curriculum, leading to proposals to change the name to “STEAM.” Visual and performing arts are noted for:

  • Increasing the overall quality of the student
  • Boosting the student's aptitude for problem solving, which supports the STEM curriculum
  • Improving critical thinking skills

What do you need to know about effective learning?

Students learn in a variety of ways, including:

  • Reading new information
  • Writing notes regarding what’s discussed
  • Seeing the information, such as on a board or computer screen, or in a book
  • Hearing the information recited by a teacher or instructor

Studies show the most successful students understand how they best learn new information. With the help of teachers and parents, students can find the tools that make learning most effective and enjoyable.

How can you help with your child’s learning?

  • Encourage problem solving and critical thinking at home through games, mind teasers, and exercises.
  • Support activities such as art, dance, theater, and other endeavors that encourage creativity.
  • Demonstrate the importance of ongoing education yourself by reading, researching, and pursuing other educational endeavors. Children learn best by example.
  • Don’t forget to exercise! A recent Swedish study showed that an increase in physical activity led to an improvement in school performance.
What are some STEM programs and activities?

There are many exciting STEM initiatives right now:

  • Virtual Environment Interactions (VEnvl): Students control the movement of virtual characters in a video-like setting, blending choreography and computational skills in a learning environment. Check out this study for more information.
  • The Children’s Museum of Houston has developed an afterschool program named A'STEAM that provides students with activity kits designed to build Common Core skills. The program has expanded to operate in 16 sites throughout the greater Houston area. You can read more about the program here.
  • The Girl Scouts of America conducts the Girls in STEM program, and are helping to promote the STEM curriculum through various badges and activities.
Even if you’ve been out of the classroom for years, you can still help your child be successful in their scholastic career. By staying informed regarding curriculum changes, and getting involved in the educational process, you can play a vital role in building successful students.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

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