How Parents Can Help Kids Meet the New Standards at Home
If you are a parent struggling to help your child meet the new standards of “Smart Core,” “Core Curriculum,” and the state and federal guidelines, you’re not alone. The new standards require a high level of knowledge in several core areas in order to help kids acquire the skills, which they will be expected to know on state tests. As parents struggle to find ways to keep their children on track, it is clear the state and federal legislators have raised the bar to meet the changing needs of society and the political motivators that are driving them.
What Can You Do?
We cannot do much about the impetus behind the changes we are witnessing (which is largely politically motivated), but we can do something to help kids have a better chance for success in academics by increasing our own knowledge. We cannot go back and repeat algebra just so it will be fresh on our minds, so what can a parent do at home to help with the trend regarding such increasing standards?
- Bookmark your state department website and print out the benchmarks for your child’s current grade in school. Schools are required to follow this like a Bible, so the more you know about the standards, the more you will be able to help. Highlight specific skills in each strand and goal area, and keep these in mind when your child is working on his work in your home environment. Sit down with them from time to time and give them specific tasks that address these standards. Also, try to find ways to apply the skills to everyday life.
- Teach thinking skills. Much of the state benchmark requirements have to do with abstract thinking skills, such as inference, comparison and higher-level learning. Teach kids to always think of things in a unique way, and have them write down explanations for problems, not just the problem solutions. This will get them in the habit of explaining their thinking, which is often required now on state standardized tests in the open response sections.
- Help kids make connections between the real world and school skills they are required to learn. Often it is hard for kids to understand how they will use their skills in the real world and this leads to a lack of motivation in doing their best. If you can show them why certain skills are important, they may have increased motivation for performing better in the classroom and this should transfer to the tests as well.
- Give kids “assignments” that are fun and engaging, while also focusing on the school standards. Get creative and give kids an “extension activity,” such as going outside and gathering different kinds of leaves for a science project instead of just reading the assignment text about plant types. This may spur a child’s imagination and interest by performing real world activities that focus on the lesson theme.
- Be supportive and positive. Above all, it is important that you empathize with your child when they complain about how hard it is. The reality is, it IS much harder than when we were in school. Stay as positive as possible when dealing with kids at home, and remind them that they will get through it, despite the challenges before them.