How Less IS MORE!by : Tiffany Tunnell
posted on : 3/2/2015 11:50:25 AM
Have you noticed a decline in your child’s learning skills? Do you wish your child was better prepared? Imagine this - What if you could see dramatic improvement in your child’s learning while spending less time actually teaching?
That’s exactly what experts in Finland, Singapore, and other international regions are finding! When learning is targeted, specific, and engaging, children need LESS TIME to master basic skills. In fact, Finland students have seen tremendous academic growth while attending elementary school for only four to five hours per day!
How are they able to accomplish better results in less time? First, by focusing specifically on building every new skill. Next, by making sure learning sessions have targeted goals. Finally, by reinforcing their students’ ability to work independently.
Bob Sornson, founder of the Early Learning Foundation, states what many parents already know, “Standard instructional practices are not working for most children and by fourth grade, only 41% of American children are proficient in math.” Language Arts isn’t much better.
Primarily due to poorly taught, confusing curriculum; combined with “teaching to the tests”, many American students aren’t learning at a fast enough pace. Teachers constantly push forward though even when their students are behind, in order to cover all the required material.
By sharp contrast, many international schools have reduced the number of skills and concepts that students work on in each grade, while eliminating entire subjects (outside of Math and Language) in their curriculum until later ages, when students have stronger foundational skills.
Equally intriguing is how the American school day seems more structured toward helping underachieving students, rather than pushing those who excel. Many gifted programs are too exclusive and many gifted students are left out because they didn’t pass the gifted test.
Meanwhile, students are bombarded with unnecessary information and given poor techniques to use for solving problems. On top of that, many classrooms aren’t designed to be student friendly. Breaks would be nice, but often they are few and far between, with continuous learning as the primary focus. This leaves little time to digest the information presented.
Large class sizes, generally upwards of 25 to 30 students per class, is another challenge. Learning together, at various academic levels, is tough on any teacher, and especially tough on gifted students. Many classrooms have students spending a large portion of their day listening, rather than being active and truly engaged.
This busy schedule is also very demanding on our educators. In today’s classroom, a teachers’ days consists of micro-managing students and parents, while at the same time, planning, reflecting, grading homework, and managing learning needs. High ranking international schools, by contrast, suggest teachers spend half their day instructing students and the other half reflecting on their teaching. This translates into international students attending school for as little as half the time U.S. students do, while developing many of learning skills independently outside of school.
By allowing reflective time, these teachers are better prepared to keep their students engaged and focused, so they can provide QUALITY instruction. It’s more of a modeling and guiding approach, versus a lecturing or “one-size fits all” approach. When curriculum is tailored and specific, teachers are able to teach higher quality lessons.
In either case, homework is important. Homework reinforces new lessons and also helps to review important concepts from prior lessons. Homework is designed for students to continue working independently, without much assistance from their teacher or parents. Unfortunately, in most American schools, homework parents find their children are unable to complete their work without assistance. This places an undue burden on parents who are already busy enough.
More importantly, more homework does not generally equate to better, more educated children. The purpose of any homework should be for students to practice new skills and review past lessons. Additional homework, which doesn’t serve that purpose, is just overkill and generally unnecessary. In fact, many Finnish parents notice their child rarely has homework and, when they do, little parental involvement is necessary to complete it.
Sometimes seeking outside assistance is a good solution. After all, every parent wants their children to grow up successful and prepared. When seeking outside assistance, remember more isn’t always better! While some educational facilities believe that children should spend 2-3 hours on supplemental learning every week, many experts believe this is the wrong approach. They say it’s better to seek out programs that focus on a building a small number of skills, one at a time.
MathRise® Learning Centers is one such program that utilizes these ideas and provides an individual learning plan for each student! At MathRise®, students usually attend for only 30 to 60 minutes a week, but advance their math and language skills at double to triple the speed of normal public school settings, in a fraction of the time.
Like Singapore and Finland, MathRise® believes in providing specific, targeted lessons in short learning sessions. This, paired with homework specific to the lessons, has shown amazing results! With One-on-One Learning that is student centered, everything at MathRise® is customized to the individual needs of your child, while homework serves to reinforce mastery and promote independent learning.