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Family Summer Survival Kit #2: Preventing Summer Learning Loss

Posted on Jun 13, 2015 6:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

Looking for things to do with your family this summer?  If so, we’ve put together a few family summer survival kits to help you out.  Each themed kit includes links to some of our popular and informative blog posts related to the subject.

summer fun

Kit #2: Preventing Summer Learning Loss

Studies indicate that children’s academic skills can regress anywhere from one to three months during summer break, especially when nothing is done to help them maintain those skills.  Here are some resources to help you minimize the effects of “summer slide” in your child:

1. 10 Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

This article includes a list of fun and educational things you and your children can do this summer to prevent summer learning loss and better prepare them for the school year ahead.

2. 5 Educational Benefits of a Family Game Night

In addition to being a great way to help your children maintain and further develop their academic skills, holding a family game night offers you the chance to spend quality time together.  This article highlights five benefits of scheduling this type of fun and worthwhile family event.

3. 5 Outdoor Activities That Encourage Learning

Summertime is an ideal time to take advantage of outdoor learning opportunities.  This article introduces five fun and educational outdoor activities you and your children can do over the summer.

If you missed it, here’s the link to Kit #1: Making the Most of Your Summer.

Coming soon… Kit # 3: Summer Boredom Busters


3 Summer Reading List Resources for Christian Parents

Posted on May 19, 2015 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

summer reading

Encouraging your children to read over the summer is a great way to help minimize summer learning loss and to better prepare them for the upcoming school year.  However, given the overwhelming number of book titles available, it can be quite challenging to discern which ones to include on a summer reading list.

Here are 3 resources that can help you in creating your child’s summer reading list:

1. Honey for a Child’s Heart

This book, written by well-known author and speaker Gladys Hunt, is an essential guide for parents wanting to find the best books for their children.  A family favorite, it includes everything from how to choose good books for your children to encouraging them to become avid readers, along with a comprehensive listing of book recommendations for children ages birth to 12 years.

2. Triple Crown Awards

This site is the home of the Children’s Gallery, the Children’s Crown, and the Lamplighter Awards, whose mission is to encourage elementary and junior high students to read wholesome and uplifting books by providing lists each year of the best literature for children in first through eighth grade.

3. Focus on the Family Thriving Family Website

This site includes an index of book reviews that cover the content, themes and worldview of tween and teen books.  The reviews are designed to equip parents with the information they need to decide if a book is appropriate for their children.

Selecting the right books for your children’s summer reading lists can not only help maintain and improve upon their reading skills, it can help foster a lifelong love of reading.


5 Reasons Why K-8 Schools May Be Better For Middle School Students

Posted on May 12, 2015 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

middle and lower school student

The start of adolescence can be both an exciting and scary time for a child.  In the “no-man’s land” between childhood and adulthood, children undergo a rapid rate of physical, mental and emotional change.  Depending on mood or circumstance, young adolescents can act like a fifteen-year-old or more like a child of nine, often during the course of the same conversation.

Because of the unique challenges children in the 10- to 14-year-old age range face and to best prepare them for high school and beyond, studies have been conducted in recent years to identify the best type of learning enviroment for these students.  The results of these studies have led to a shift in some areas from a middle school structure to a kindergarten through 8th grade (K-8) setting.  Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Continuity

During the middle grade (5th through 8th) years, young adolescents face a unique set of psychological, emotional and social challenges.  The added stress of a transition to a new and different school environment during this time of change can be overwhelming and traumatic.  A K-8 school can offer much needed consistency and familiarity as children navigate the waters of early adolescence and a way to delay the transition to a new school environment until they are more mature and better prepared to handle such a change.

K-8 schools with organizational structures offering separate spaces for the lower and middle grades give young adolescents a taste of independence and acknowledge they are entering a new phase in their educational careers while providing the comfort of a gradual transition in preparation for the high school years ahead.

2. More Knowledgeable and Understanding Teachers

Teachers in a K-8 setting are able to collaborative and communicate regularly with one another as it relates to both curriculum and students.

In terms of knowledge, middle grade teachers in a K-8 school are generally more familiar with what students in K-5 are learning and experiencing and can build on that foundation.  Likewise, lower grade teachers are exposed to what the middle grade students are learning and are in a better position to prepare their students for the middle grade years.

Regarding student development, middle grade teachers in a K-8 school have direct access to those who have taught their students in the past and are able to gain first-hand insights on the children they are now teaching.

3. Fosters a Stronger Sense of Community

When students stay in one school for the duration of their K-8 years, it offers teachers and school staff members the chance to get to know them and their families really well and vice versa.  In addition, with a longer common history and more shared experiences, the school community tends to be more close-knit.  This is especially true in a private school setting where class size tends to be smaller, which can lead to the creation of a family-like environment.

K-8 school

4. Enduring Relationships

Students who attend a K-8 school may have the opportunity to interact with some teachers for the duration of their time at the school, such as those who teach gym, art or music, and also have the chance to stay connected with former teachers over a longer timespan.  This gives teachers more time to get to know and understand their students and gives students more exposure to potential mentors and role models.

In addition, students attending a K-8 school are able to develop and maintain friendships with one another as they pass through their formative developmental phases, friendships with the strength and depth to last far beyond their school years.

5. Leadership Opportunities

As children reach the middle grades, they become ready to assume increasing responsibility and to take on leadership roles.  In a K-8 school, older students are able to become leaders and role models for the younger students in the school.  Participating in activities that serve the younger students can prove to be a valuable learning experience for the middle grade student and a great benefit to the younger students who view them as mentors and role models.  These opportunities offer the older students the chance to gain self-confidence and leadership skills as they prepare for high school and beyond.

While some young adolescents can and will do fine in a middle school setting, others may do better in a K-8 school configuration.  To determine the best fit for your child, explore your options and select a structure that will best meet your child’s needs.

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A Christian Parent’s Guide to Understanding Common Core

Posted on May 5, 2015 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

apple and school books

A major “hot button” topic in education today is the Common Core initiative.  Like it or not, most states have adopted it and the resulting implementation of this initiative has led to much debate.

The purpose of this article is to explain the controversy surrounding Common Core.  And, rather than persuade you to adopt a particular point of view, our goal is simply to arm you with knowledge to help you form your own opinions and make your own decisions regarding Common Core and your child’s education.

Common Core 101

In an effort to improve U.S. educational performance and to prepare students for college and career, a group of state governors expressing a desire to create learning and educational milestones came together to develop educational standards designed to help students become college- and career-ready.  These standards were meant to act as a guideline to assure that the education received by U.S. students was uniform from state to state, specifically in the areas of mathematics and English language arts.

In theory, the idea of improving educational performance sounds like a good one.  But somewhere between inspiration and implementation, issues both practical and philosophical in nature have resulted.

Common Core Concerns

Here are several of the major concerns with Common Core:

  1. Centralized Approach Threatens Individual Needs.  Many are worried that the establishment and management of standards at the national level takes the decision-making power away from those who have a much greater pulse on the needs at the local level, including parents and taxpayers.

  2. Government/Business Involvement in Schools.  Local governments are dependent upon federal funding to meet the educational needs of their constituents.  As a result, some fear that Common Core adoption may be more a result of the threat of monetary penalties for non-compliance as opposed to agreement with the initiative.  In addition, some worry that private businesses have unduly influenced the development and implementation of Common Core through the offering of monetary support and incentives.

  3. The Impact of Standards on Curriculum and Testing.  While Common Core was designed to be a set of standards and not a curriculum, these standards are indeed affecting curriculum and subsequently the supporting learning materials.  For example, textbooks and tests are being written to reflect the standards.  Concerns abound that there is now an overemphasis of skills over content knowledge.  In addition, these standards have affected teaching methodology.  As an illustration, to support Common Core goals, methods of teaching math that are more reliant upon theory than rote memorization have been introduced and have sparked much controversy.

  4. Standards Do Not Guarantee Educational Performance.  Along with the impact the standards are having on curriculum come the following questions: Is the quality of education being compromised?  Is Common Core forcing educators to teach to a test and not for the sake of learning?  At the end of the day, will the education our students are receiving provide them with the skills, knowledge and experience required to survive and thrive in the real world?

A Christian Approach to Common Core

So how as Christian parents are we to respond to Common Core?  Before we answer that question, let’s take a step back and take a look at education from a Christian perspective.

What is the purpose of education?  Ultimately, a valuable education will help students develop their reasoning capacities so they can discern truth and live according to it.  Whose truth?  God’s truth.  The reading and writing skills children learn give them the technical knowledge necessary to communicate in this world, God’s world.  The study of literature provides cultural knowledge of His world.  The study of mathematics and science fosters an appreciation of His world.  Study in these areas leads to a development of critical thinking skills and to a better understanding of God’s world and God’s laws.

“Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”  Proverbs 22:6

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Deuteronomy 11:19

As Christian parents, our children’s education ultimately rests in our hands.  As such, it is our responsibility to take an active role in our children’s education to ensure what they are learning renders them capable of understanding truth, loving God and reflecting His goodness.

Knowledge is power

All that said, here are some suggestions on what Christian parents can do in response to Common Core, especially if your child attends a school where Common Core has been adopted:

  1. Do Your Homework.  Do the necessary research to aquaint yourself with Common Core to identify which aspects of it may be beneficial or detrimental to your child’s overall education.

  2. Discuss Questionable Content With Your Child.  As curriculum content taught in the classroom may be designed by others who do not hold Christian beliefs or values, it is important that you be aware of what your child is learning in the classroom and ensure your child understands how to view that content through a Christian worldview lens.

  3. Supplement What is Being Taught in School.  If the curriculum being taught to your child does not approach learning from a Biblical perspective, provide your child with additional learning opportunities outside of the classroom, such as at home, through your church or other Christian organizations.

  4. Seek Alternative Schooling Options.  First and foremost, understand that you have a choice.  If you’ve done the due diligence in researching Common Core and discover the minuses outweigh the pluses, prayerfully consider alternative eductional options, such as homeschooling or enrollment in a private school that does not follow Common Core standards and whose curriculum is aligned with your Christian values.

Regardless of the latest fads or trends in education, as a Christian parent, it is your right and responsibility to train your child up in the way he or she should go.  In doing so, you will help your child discern God’s truth and live a life that glorifies Him.

Resources for further research:

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