Supplement Your Child's Education

Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your child's education. There are a number of ways to do it, with many helpful books and online guides. Our hope is to point you in the right direction below. 

Please keep in mind that there are a variety of options for parents, and often the decision should be made based on a variety of factors including time, money, personality of the child, etc. The key, though, is to take charge of your child's education and not leave his or her future beholden to a well-meaning, but often failing educational system.

Math

American students recently are reported as ranking 25th in the world for math. If you'd like to assess your child's math skills, you can do so for free through SingaporeMath. The site also has a helpful guide for determining material for teaching math at home, which is available by clicking here. Another curriculum company to consider is Saxon for math. You can view their material here (click on the "Request a Catalog" link).

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of supplementing your child's education on your own, you may want to consider tutoring or a program like Kumon Learning Centers.

For individual math lessons, please consider visiting the Khan Academy online where you can view helpful videos like the following:

Area of a Circle

Finally, please keep in mind, too, that there are many, many other free resources online. For instance, here's a site, dadsworksheets.com, that offers free math worksheets. The site also links to numerous other free resources. 

Reading

Just as with their math scores, American students' reading scores rank quite low compared to other developed countries in the world. So what can you do? First, of course, you may want to determine how well your child is reading currently. A number of online reading assessments exist. Here are a few:   

San Diego Quick Reading Assessment Instructions

Checkpoints for Progress

Reading Skills Assessment Test

The Abecedarian Reading Assessment

We would be remiss if we neglected to mention the need for phonics education for younger children. Here are two helpful books for teaching your young ones: Noah Webster's Reading Handbook and Phonics Pathways.

Once your child is past the learning to read stage, one way of supplementing your child's reading is to recommend good books. Improving reading abilities and building a vocabulary involves reading ever more challenging texts. Additionally, you may want to inquire into the substance of the books your child is reading whether at home or at school. Does a book promote virtuous behavior? Does a book challenge the reader? Does the book enrich the mind? All of these questions (and more) are important to consider as there are good, mediocre, and bad books.

For a wonderful read on virtue and classic stories, please consider "Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination".

To learn more about the Great Books Programs, please consider visiting our Topic Page on the subject:


Great Books
Great Books

 

Cursive Handwriting

More likely than not, if you take a look at your grandparents' old letters, you will find well-written documents composed entirely in flowing cursive. It's just one more example of the subtle downward slide in education. Penmanship seems to be a dying art these days, which is a shame. If you share our appreciation for handwritten letters and cursive penmanship, and believe that it's important for your child to have such a skill, you may have to help your child yourself.

If you're wondering if cursive handwriting matters in our digital age, you may want to consider reading this article. For an interesting article on how cursive handwriting helps develop cognitive skills, click here

For a helpful site that will give you tips on how to start teaching your child (or yourself) cursive handwriting, please consider clicking here.

General Knowledge

Several recent studies indicate that American students aggregate understanding of history, civics, and other areas of general knowledge has declined precipitously in recent decades. Two studies on the subject are the following: E Pluribus Unum-The Bradley Project on America's National Identity and the Fordham Institute's The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011

It's certainly no easy matter to concisely lay out the various topics in history, civics, philosophy, etc. that a well-educated individual living in a free society should know. To that end, we recommend two books on the matter: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and E.D. Hirsch's Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Teachers and Parents. Both books do a wonderful job of presenting quality educational material for children at each stage of learning. 

Finance/Economics

Judging by the rapid growth of the national debt and personal bankruptcies in recent years, at least a few Americans are in need of remedial finance education. You'll surely give your son or daughter a leg up in life by helping them understand economics and finances, particularly as they relate to the individual. Teaching finances is a mixed bag of teaching money discipline, the importance of thrift/saving, etc. to your children and often doing that in the real world. 

For online tutorials on various finance and economic topics, we again refer you to the free online Khan Academy. There you will find videos like the following:

If you would like to introduce your older child to economics, there are a few books that you might want to consider starting with: The Law by Bastiat and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. 

 

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Commentary or Blog Post

"I asked Fulton County high school teacher Jordan Kohanim to write a piece about what she wanted for her students this year. Jordan joined forces with fellow Centennial High School English teachers Larken McCord and Cathy Rumfelt to write a powerful letter about their goals for their students and for all students. School resumes in Fulton County on Monday

Here is their combined effort....

Flanagan, seemingly a supporter of John Dewey's education philosophy and changes, portrays how Dewey went beyond the changes made by Horace Mann. Discussing his "laboratory school," which Dewey established in 1896, Flanagan argues that he created a school equally focused on both the student's individual pursuits and the preparation of each student to live in the community - both the...

Hager looks solely at the problem of competition and accountability with the public school system and specifically targets the progressive educators: "However, the social-management philosophes who fashioned the progressive education...

As one could guess given the name of the institute, this article urges that education on both sides of the Atlantic become more efficient and productive by enabling each participant significant choice on the matter. Lawson contends that this idea is far from where the British...

Describing the transition and evolution of education during the first several decades of the 20th century, Wiles characterizes the change as moving from a "closed" to an "open" system.  Throughout the rise of progressive thinking, Wiles argues, "no person epitomizes the acknowledgement of...

This brief introduction to Dewey's ideas asserts that the "most common misunderstanding about Dewey is that he was simply supporting progressive education. Progressive education, according to Dewey, was a wild swing in the philosophical pendulum, against traditional education methods.In progressive education, freedom was the rule, with students being...

Examining the causes of declining educational performance, Bernstein points to John Dewey's education philosophy as the cause. "[Progressive education's] main tenets have been widely incorporated into American schools. Our educators accept the premise that the target of education is not the student's rational mind. Since they believe that their goal is not to...

Prominent free-market economist and historian, Murray Rothbard, wrote an extensive 12-part analysis on the modern education system (including this piece, the last in the series).  He described the destructive trend of progressive education as being collectivistic, controlling and uniformitarian. And, in some...

In light of recent school violence, Woiceshyn takes a closer look at the progressive education philosophy. This philosophy "maintains that the cause of social strife is the unwillingness of an individual to sacrifice his convictions to the group. Dewey maintained that it is the insistence on distinctions such as 'true versus false' and 'right versus wrong'...

Emand and Fraser offer a helpful piece on Dewey's theories, which may often be confusing and seemingly contradictory. The article lays out a question, and then answers it with several quotes from various writings by John Dewey.

Gatto describes a plan developed by "Gary, Indiana, Superintendent William A. Wirt, a former student of John Dewey’s at the University of Chicago...in which school subjects were departmentalized; this required movement of students from room to room on a regular basis so that all building spaces were in constant use. Bells would ring and just as with Pavlov’s...

Anderson defines and highlights the legacies of Progressivism. He mentions two early Progressive leaders, Teddy Roosevelt and John Dewey. According to Anderson, Roosevelt exemplified the Progressives desire for a stronger executive branch and Dewey represented the Progressives dislike of a decentralized educational system. Anderson highlights 1913 as a key year because of the establishment of...

Analysis Report White Paper

Taking a markedly pro-Dewey stance, Novack discusses Dewey's international impact on educational reform as well as the necessity of such reform. Honoring what would have been Dewey's 100th birthday, Novack calls for further implementation of his theories and reforms.

"This historic context study spans more than a hundred years and the approximately 140 buildings constructed, acquired, maintained, expanded, and sometimes removed by the Minneapolis Board of Education between 1849 and 1962."

Taking a rigid free-market stance on education, Hood examines the inefficiencies and failures of America's public education system. Rather than siding with one group in particular over the matter, he finds numerous problems - monopoly of the system, centralized decision-making, tenure - which contribute to the downfall of such a system.

"Wirt devised a diverse curriculum to prepare youth for the new emerging industrial state, and a significant part of Wirt's innovative currciulum included sports, games, and play activities. Wirt referred to his system as a work-study-play school, but it was also termed as the Gary plan and platoon school."

Field gives an in depth look at Dewey, including analysis on Dewey's social theories, the public's reception of him, and his thoughts on learning and education. From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the article is cited thoroughly and examines Dewey and his philosophies with a keen academic eye.

The piece discusses the decline in America's schools, with regard to both its role as a government funded institution as well as the partnership that is formed between parent, teacher, and student. Though the structure of public education is flawed, education itself has become a political, social and cultural issue.

McCluskey discusses current social conflicts in American public schools and then explores the history of American schooling from the Founding until now.

Video/Podcast/Media

From the description: "This is a group project for teachers about the history of education from 1900-1950."

"The Travelers" describe some of the changes in society as a result of immigration, the transition from education emphasizing the "three R's" to a progressive education model of work, study, play, and the influences of Dewey and...

This is a 4-minute sample clip about Dewey from a film that is part of the series called GIANTS. It briefly explores Dewey's critique of the reflex arc concept in psychology, his belief in truth as process, and his belief in democracy.

"In this program, Columbia University professor Sidney Morgenbesser discusses the nuances of pragmatic philosophy as expressed by three of America's greatest thinkers. Moranbesser examines Peirce's theory of meaning and the notion of fallibilism that supports the changing nature of truth. James' concept of meaning, knowledge, and truth is examined within the context of the usefulness of...

"This video presents a positive view of progressive education although it begins with a parent complaining that children are not learning the fundamentals. Various educators are seen including famed John Dewey. One skeptic asserts that ideas similar to progressive education caused a collapse of the ancient Greek civilization. Current debates about educational techniques in many respects seem...

"A quick expose of why public schools in the US are mediocre. From John Dewey to now in only 4 minutes."

Primary Document

Arguably Dewey's most controversial essay, Impressions describes Soviet Russia in a strikingly positive light. Writing just as Stalin assumed official leadership, Dewey, despite finding some slightly troublesome qualities of the regime, recognized a certain legitimacy of the Soviet system. Though he...

In this piece Dewey truly does lay out his own "creed" on education, even beginning each paragraph with, "I believe."  Using his extensive background in psychology and combining it with his social philosophy, Dewey presents five sections concerning education:
1)      What Education Is
2)     ...

G.K. Chesterton’s essay on education addresses everything from what education is, to what role parents and public schooling should play in education. Chesterton believes that education is continually occurring whether or not a person is in an acceptable educational...

In late 1936 and early 1937 the famous educational theorist John Dewey issued a set of rebuttals to Robert Hutchins' book, The Higher Learning in America. Hutchins' book...

In late 1936 and early 1937 the famous educational theorist John Dewey issued a set of rebuttals to Robert Hutchins' book, The Higher Learning in America. Dewey uses his...

In this work, Lewis defends a universal law of morality.

This book and The School and Society, "which grew out of Dewey’s hands-on...

Perhaps the pioneer in progressive education, Parker helped pave the way for Dewey and others...

This book and The Child and the Curriculum, "which grew out of Dewey’s hands-on experience in administering the laboratory school at the University of Chicago, represent the...

Books

FAQs

This FAQ provides some background on education in Minnesota, which in turn will help one to understand today's state of education.

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