by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
How much is a child’s fundamental education worth? Should we skimp on school funding knowing that today’s students are destined to become tomorrow's leaders? I ask this question because lately it has become the status quo in a lot of communities to vote down school levies. It should be the duty of every citizen to make sure that our children are well educated for life’s tough journeys ahead. At the top of the list of reasons why school levies are not supported by some communities is the accusations that school boards are architects of wasteful spending. If voters count the recruiting of well qualified teachers as a waste of money, or if they think that these top notch instructors are willing to work for peanuts, then they are totally delusional. With the number of privately funded schools across the land, well qualified teachers have no problem obtaining employment. Yet a lot of these teachers passed up the golden ring to come to inner-city schools to teach the disadvantaged only to be let go due to tack of school funds.
The most recent rounds of government cuts have place the education of our youth on the back burner and makes it even more difficult for those we trust to instruct our children. The same government that can’t seem to agree on how to fund our education systems have no problem coming up with 70 billion dollars for the defense budget. Our government spends billions everyday on machines of war while the burden of saving our schools falls on the meager paychecks of those who are struggling already in each and every inner-city community. In most of these blue-collar towns once upon a time, jobs were plentiful and the incoming tax revenue kept the school systems in the black. Of course the cost of everything was just a little cheaper back then, but you never saw near about as many school levies as you do these days.
Our young people are a valuable resource which should be cultivated and allowed to grow and be well educated to the ways of the world. And not only that, there's a pretty good chance that the scientist that could save this planet is being born right now and more than likely will have to endure the public school system before taking on the title as world savior. Should we make the government more responsible for making sure school funding is solid? We all would like to say yes, but we know the truth which is politicians are just not that concerned. All of this will eventually lead us to a genre that is being looked at more closely these days and something I predict will become the way of the land and that is home schooling. All you’ll need is a computer and a desk and that takes the need for a levy right out of the equation.
Teaching Kids to Write for the Web Using Write W.A.V.E. Media
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Looking for something different and useful to add to your student's writing curriculum? What about web writing? More specifically, how about using guest blogging at Write W.A.V.E. Media (WWM) as part of that instruction? There are no age requirements for posting on these sites, only certain access restrictions (an adult account is required for those under 13, due to usage rules related to hosting and creation tools). There are also several sites within the network, covering just about any topic. This can be adapted into a traditional classroom curriculum or for homeschooled students. As a seasoned homeschool parent and a long-time web writer, I've done this with my own children in various ways.
In the beginning, give your student a chance to get familiar with how the process works. Most importantly, allow him or her to learn how the publishing system works. The first submissions should simply be whatever the student feels like writing. This could be poems, articles, or even school papers. Let him or her feel comfortable with using the sites, learning a few things, and gaining a readership. Also, remember to allow for some of this in between assignments as well. Keep the experience fun and not just a chore.
Many ad and affiliate companies require an account holder to be 18 or older. However, it can still be a learning experience and will help ensure they are knowledgeable when they do qualify for payments. You also might choose to sign up for one or more of these and simply transfer any earnings to your student. If your student chooses to publish in other places around the web or to publish books (or sell products or services) that can be linked to from their posts at Write W.A.V.E. Media, links to those might also help them earn. Also, reprints of content are sometimes purchased by clients. In this case, we always give the writer 100% profit from their own content (minus any processing fees by PayPal).
Teaching Web Writing Using Write W.A.V.E. Media
There are many great tips on web writing at the Write W.A.V.E. Media blog, as well as the Article Writer For Hire blog. The WWM forum and the WWM Facebook group also might be useful. Let your students read up on those and implement the lessons into their writing. A very useful tool to combine with lessons learned from those sources is the Yahoo! Style Guide. We also provide submission guidelines and other instructions. Gauge the success of your student's web writing skills by constantly examining their work to see which techniques are applied.
Benefits of Web Writing Skills
No matter the career choice of your students, web writing skills can be a plus. These lessons can be useful in college, as well as in the workforce. Web writing can be used in marketing, journalism, business ownership, business management, editing, and much more. Pretty much any business or company should have a website and web writing skills can be useful in creating and maintaining it.
Grading Based on Performance and Quality
When grading your student on lessons learned, look at both quality and performance. Are the pieces written well? Grade web writing similar to other school papers as far as grammar and spelling. But don't forget the various aspects of internet text, such as SEO and ad alignment. Have they followed our submission guidelines or are they at risk of getting their content edited or removed? Are they getting decent page views on WWM? Is there mostly positive or negative feedback? How much interaction are they getting? What are the readers saying? Is their content being shared by others?
Is Default School Choice Failing Kids?
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
At the beginning of each school year, choosing the right clothing and school supplies becomes a top agenda for parents. These same parents often go with a default school choice, which means that "by default" they simply send their children to the nearby local school without really making a school choice. Is default school choice failing kids?
In addition to parents who are unaware of choice in education, others may know about choice but perceive that they lack funding for private school tuition, or for transportation to a more distant school. This is still a default choice, if parents fail to realize that choice in education may increase school success in kids. As a parent who once utilized school choice for her own children within the public school system and who now utilizes school choice to homeschool all of her children, I feel qualified to explore this subject.
What is School Choice?
School choice in simple terms is the option that parents have to make a choice in education options for their kids. This could refer to vouchers being given to public school children to attend more competent private schools in the area. It could also mean sending a child to a public school outside of the neighborhood due to incompatible opportunities at the neighborhood school.
For some, it may simply mean making the choice between public, private, and homeschool. There are many ways school choice is exercised, but all have the same goal: a better education for our children. Should there be a default school choice?
Is Default School Choice Failing Kids?
Oftentimes, before the kids are even ready to go to school, parents have it set in their brains the school they will go to. Most often, it is simply the neighborhood school. While there certainly is nothing wrong with sending kids to a neighborhood school, it could be a hindrance to have a default school choice.
Default school choice may be failing many kids. Part of this is because all children do not learn in the same way. Along those same lines, all teachers do not teach the same way either. Nor do all schools use the same curriculum or methods. That's actually a good thing. But only if the advantages to varying curricula and teaching methods are utilized. Otherwise, there isn't much of a point in having so many options if they aren't going to be used with the kids they benefit the most.
Choice in Education May Help Homeschool Thrive
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), in 2009 a new study was released regarding academic achievement of home schooled children. This national study showed children who were homeschooled scoring an average of an entire 30 percentile points higher than those in public schools on all core subjects. As a seasoned home school parent, those results do not surprise me. Why? My personal thoughts taken from experience are that some of that is due to school choice.
Most parents who homeschool are doing so because they want their children to have the best educational options possible. Therefore choice in education methods is at the forefront of many decisions. Many of these parents chose home school as a method, due to their assessment of what would work for their child. With national home school children scoring so much higher than national public school children, could school choice be the answer?
Choice in Education Increases Test Scores And Graduation Rate
In the above example, home school test scores were well above those of children in public school. Now let's take it a step further and compare test scores of other children whose parents exercised school choice. According to the Friedman Foundation, private schools who participated in voucher programs to exercise school choice had higher test scores and graduation rates than public schools. For instance, in Milwaukee in 2003, the graduation rate at private schools who accepted school choice vouchers was 64%. Public schools had a graduation rate of only 34%. The same material, comprised of many studies, mentions children in several states gaining a significant increase in percentile points when participating in a school choice voucher program.
Choice in Education May Increase School Success in Kids
When comparing the data above with my own research and observances over the years and with my varied experiences with school choice, I continually come to the conclusion that choice in education may increase school success. Many other factors will play a role, but taking steps to ensure that the choice of schools reflects a child's actual needs can be a great start, if not a big factor, in a child's school success.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Your child's learning is essential to success as an adult and in the business world. We must make sure our children are learning every day. This is not only important during school time, but also necessary during playtime and during normal every day activities. As a veteran mom, I have seen what incorporating learning into your child's daily life can do.
Go through the motions step by step. If you do not emphasize to your child what is going on while running through the normal daily motions, they will become just that, motions without reason. Your child needs to not only learn the hows of doing things, but learn the whys as well. Explain these things in a way your child will understand. For instance, there is no need to go into extreme details with a toddler. But an older child will want to know more information.
One way to make things easier for your child to pick up on is by playing mini games. You could turn a house cleaning into a trivia time, asking the child/ren related questions. Maybe you're doing dishes. Ask your child, "How come we have to wash the dishes with soap instead of just rinsing them with hot water?" The child may answer, "because soap gets them clean". Your response could be: "That's right because if we don't use soap, nasty germs can spread and cause infections. Yuck! We better make sure we always use soap and rinse it off really well so we don't have to taste the soap. Ewwww." So, you can see how easy that was. The child learns how to correctly do dishes, but also learns why it is important. When children know why something is important, they are more likely to complete the task than if you just tell them to do it "because you said so". This also gives them knowledge they can use in their adult lives.
Add extra bits of information to conversations with your child. Your child might be playing with her dolls and a question pops into her mind. She says, "Mommy, how come some people have dark skin and some people have light skin? Instead of saying a quick response like "That's just the way God made us", try saying something like this: "Well, honey, there's different weather in different parts of the world. Some people are around the sun more, so they get darker from something called melatonin that comes from the sun. We are all the same on the inside though, because that's the way God wants us. Wouldn't the world be boring if we all looked the same? How weird would that be? How would we tell each other apart, then?" A response like this not only teaches your child to respect everyone, but also teaches your child about melatonin and makes her think about why there are so many different colors of people, rather than just dismissing it, as the first response causes.
Make sure that none of your child's questions go unanswered or short-answered. Yes, sometimes we can inadvertently ignore our child's questions when we are tired, but we have to remember that their little minds have to be constantly fed. Ignoring their questions or telling them "not right now" can not only hamper their chance for finding that answer they're seeking, but it can discourage them from asking further questions. Not having the desire to question things can adversely affect your child's learning process.
Draw on what your child is learning in school. Take extra time after homework to go over what your child has learned. Research your child's topics further. If your child has been learning about frogs, go to a pet shop and have the pet shop owner tell your child all about them. Look up frogs online. Maybe your zoo or museum has a frog display. Buy a frog book. Play leapfrog. Just be creative and come up with ways to make the lesson "sticky" in your child's mind.
With these things in mind, be prepared to take your child to a whole new exciting level of learning and life. Don't be limited to just my ideas. Come up with your own as well. Have fun and happy learning!
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Is Homework Reducing Learning and Play Time for Kids? Should Homework Be Eliminated? Pros and Cons
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
The subject of homework has long been a debate among parents and teachers. Some teachers believe it is essential, while some find other ways to add to the curriculum. There are parents like myself who feel it takes up valuable time. This time could otherwise be spent reading, playing, or learning in other ways. As a mom, homeschool teacher, and former public school parent, I've seen it from more than one side. I've also done research over the years, as well as asked opinions of teachers. My research and opinions below are accompanied by recent conversations with three teachers.
Homework vs Study Time
Besides what is being taught in class, kids may need or desire to do extra research on their own. They also may want to read unassigned books for the pure enjoyment of reading. However, when homework takes up a substantial amount of time, this may not be possible. The student may tire or run out of time before extracurricular activities or bedtime. Children should be free to explore and learn as much as possible and too much homework may hinder that process. My personal thought is that study time needs to be reevaluated and should be done freely versus being assigned. I expressed some of my thoughts on how to do that in another writeup: "Should Current Homework and Study Methods be Reevaluated?"
Ann W, a teacher and parent, shared the following with me:
"There are several negative effects of traditional homework assignments, especially upon elementary school children. In my experience as a parent and former public school teacher, I've seen both sides to the issue. If homework lacks substance or too much is assigned, children become increasingly frustrated and may develop a bad attitude toward school. In our own experience, homework took four hours of time to complete. Not only did this take away from our family time together, it also reduced the amount of time our child was able to devote to individual reading.
"Down time and actually having the time to read for pleasure can refresh and prepare a student for further learning. Excessive homework, such as writing 20 spelling words 25 times each by a child who can spell all the words correctly and has a fine motor disability, creates a stressful atmosphere and is a waste of precious time. That is just one of the reasons, among many, that we eventually chose to home school our daughter."
Benefits or Drawbacks?
This is the area where it seems the answer varies depending on who you ask. Not all teachers agree and not all parents agree. According to an article on Scholastic.com, there is not credible evidence to suggest that there is a tangible benefit from homework. In fact, in that same article, there is evidence of a no-homework policy working well for students. The argument given by one teacher is that homework is essentially the same as if an adult went to work and then came home and kept working for several more hours. Some may in fact do this, but why put so much pressure on anyone, especially children?
Then, there are those who argue there are indeed benefits. For instance, Sandra Peterson, a teacher, tutor, and home educator shared this with me:
"Especially in the subject of math, homework is, in my opinion, essential. Homework is one of the best day-to-day assessment tools a teacher can utilize. Daily homework can alert a teacher to comprehension problems early enough that the lesson can be re-taught. This is important in math since one concept builds upon another. If the student does not understand how to find factors, they may not understand how to reduce fractions or make equivalent fractions from two fractions with unlike denominators. Many students learn best by practicing skills in a lesson or by summarizing what they have learned in an essay. Not that homework is rote learning, but homework can provide one more opportunity to cement those concepts in the brain. Homework can also be utilized to allow the student to express his individuality, especially in the creative writing portion of the language arts curriculum."
When Can Kids be Kids?
Another argument against homework is that often kids are spending so much time on it, there is no time left for anything else. What about extracurricular activities? What about family time or just regular kid time? When my kids were in traditional school, by the time my oldest was finished with homework, she had no time to do anything but eat dinner and prepare for bed. Yes, learning is extremely important. But so is downtime, fun time, and fitness. All have benefits and all are necessary. If children are spending all their time on homework, where is the time for any of this?
High school teacher Amanda Herron told me what works for her students:
"I teach on a block schedule, instead of traditional, which means our students have four classes a day (instead of eight) and stay in one class for 90 minutes (instead of 55). I rarely, if ever, give homework because I feel that as an effective teacher I should cover what I need to in 90 minutes. Research does back up that daily practice of concepts helps with memory retention, but I feel that in 90 minutes my lessons should teach the concept and offer practice time. By doing traditional 'homework' assignments in class, the students have peer coaches and teachers to ask questions and get help. Especially at the high school level, few parents can help on homework assignments. Also, our students have such full, high-stress lives. At my school, we have a high teen parent rate, added to the necessity of after-school jobs for essentials like gas (and unfortunately for some of my students, family groceries due to the high-unemployment in our area). Colleges are looking for sports, extra-curriculars and community service. If every teacher assigns an additional 45 minutes of homework, our students (with only four teachers) would need an extra three hours in their schedules.
"The average schedule for one of my students:
7:00 a.m. ~ Bus stop.
7:40 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. ~ School day
3:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ~ Sports (football, basketball, etc)
5:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. ~ after school job or baby sit children/siblings until parents get home from later-shift jobs
"There is no time in my students schedules for homework every night. They would not be finished until after 1:00a.m. At schools with traditional schedules (more classes meeting in a day) that could go longer. So, I'm not a fan. I get a better result from my students by keeping practice and project times in class and I have no problem doing this and still covering my state-mandated standards."
What is Being Taught in Class?
A final question that I struggle with often: "What's being taught in class?" If a child is learning for hours throughout the day, why is it necessary to then come home and repeat the process? Haven't they been learning all day already? As someone who has had children in public school and has educated them at home, I have seen things as both a parent and teacher. Whenever we are homeschooling, I have found the children complete more lessons in less time than when they attended traditional school. That's why I struggle so much in understanding why it's necessary to repeat lessons during a time that should be family time.
Because of homeschooling, the performance of most of my kids has increased. They sometimes complete two grade levels per subject every school year. This is without having extra work to complete at the end of the day. Because of this, I'm left to wonder why traditional schools need to assign extra work outside of class. Shouldn't the length of their school days compensate for that? I have the utmost respect for educators and believe most do have the students' best interests in mind. It's just something I have yet to understand, based on research and personal experience.
*Thanks to Amanda Herron, Sandra Peterson, and Ann W for your opinions.
**I originally published this content via Yahoo Contributor Network
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Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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