* Is there a relationship between a child’s self-esteem and academic achievement?
Definitely! A child has four basic needs: love, power (competence), freedom (choice), and fun. Increased academic achievement serves all four of these needs. A child who is succeeding academically feels more secure and in control. The opposite is also true. A child who is not succeeding academically does not feel competent and may compensate in negative ways, such as not trying, acting out, or withdrawing. They can be perceived as having a negative attitude.
*Does a ‘jump-start’ benefit children?
Again, definitely! If you know that a certain subject will be taught in your child’s class, it is to your child’s advantage to become familiar with the subject. For example, Washington State History is taught in 4th grade. If fun, non-threatening materials related to the history of Washington State are presented during the summer prior to fourth grade; the child is better prepared for the teacher’s instruction in the fall. The learning will come easier and have more meaning with the advanced knowledge base the child has received prior to the instruction.
*Should a student learn skills beyond the skills expected for their grade level?
Absolutely! Students should always be encouraged to work up to their own potential. No one should ever put a lid on a student’s learning. Students need the strongest knowledge and skill base that they can get in order to give them a solid foundation as they progress through school. Most parents want greater depth and complexity in learning for their children.
*Do children need more instruction and practice than can be given during the regular school program?
Parents are responsible for their child’s education. Learning should never stop at the schoolhouse door. Continual, consistent practice is needed to gain and maintain growth. This is true kindergarten through high school. Expectations in schools today are very high. Additional learning opportunities must be available to students in order to meet these expectations. Students need to sharpen their skills, maintain these skills, and be taken beyond what is available during the school year. Summertime learning is important. Research shows that one month of learning is lost during the long summer break, especially in the areas of math and spelling.
*What causes a child to score higher in one subject area than another?
It is typical for a child to be more proficient in certain subject areas for several reasons. First, we usually do better in things that we like to do. Second, practice makes perfect. Students will be more successful in areas in which they have had more practice. Time constants and the academic focus in the classroom often gives more practice in certain subjects.
*Should parents broaden a child’s conceptual knowledge base?
Absolutely! It is very difficult for a child to learn about a subject unless they have some familiarity with it. Parents can bring events to the child through books, television and computers. One cannot minimize the importance of concept development and vocabulary study during early years. These greatly affect the success of a child in school.
*Are there areas of instruction that children should receive beyond what is offered at school?
Yes. The more a child learns, the more opportunities the child will have to develop life-long interests and skills. The subject areas offered by schools are increasingly limited by time constraints and available resources. The first priority is to get students to grade level standard in core subjects. We also need to provide opportunities to learn in other areas such as foreign languages, focused writing instruction, literature classes, and advanced reading and math classes.
* Do parents have trouble teaching their own children?
There is something about being related to the person you are trying to teach that makes it more difficult. Some say that we are too close so our expectations of the child are different and our reactions are different. Both of these reasons often get in the way. Even teachers sometimes have difficulty teaching their own children. Conflicts that arise when parents try to give academic instruction to their own children can cause family arguments, tension and ultimately even interfere with the parent/child relationship.
*Is it helpful for children to be prepared foron the SAT and even classroom tests?
Yes. A child needs to learn test-taking strategies and test format. Although tests are just one way to determine if a child is learning adequately, they are widely used as a child progresses through school. Test-taking strategies help children test to the best of their ability. Students feel more confident taking the test when they are familiar with multiple choice questions, short answer, and extended response questions. Practicing helps remind students of these skills. Focused practice is the quickest way to increased achievement. Students also need to learn strategies for dealing with test anxiety.