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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Based on his extensive research on alternative teacher certification through the years, Mitch Pearlstein compiles a brief look at several key tidbits which show that alternative teacher certification is just as effective, if not more effective, than traditional certification. Pearlstein encourages alternative certification because he believes it directly improves...

In this article, Katherine Kersten seeks to reveal the University of Minnesota’s future aims in regards to the education of teachers. According to Kersten, U of M seems to be seeking to completely revamp the ideologies of its teaching students by practically forcing them to accept progressive philosophies that the university approves of. This article goes on to...

This short piece points out that solid teaching credentials do not necessarily make a good teacher. Unfortunately for America’s schools, certification standards are keeping potentially good teachers out of the market while at the same time keeping demonstrably bad ones in. Hess recommends that the solution to this problem is to "Overhaul state licensure systems."...

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Ms. Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, proposes a national "bar exam" for strengthening entry into the teaching profession.

This article addresses the issue of budget cuts in the New York public schools. According to Winters, the public school system would be wiser and more fiscally prudent if they cut teachers with seniority rather than teachers who are relatively new on the scene. Winters’ reasoning for this is that many newer teachers have had to pass through stricter proficiency...

In this interview, Linda Darling-Hammond opines that many education reforms have not worked because they have focused on the student and not the teacher. In her eyes, education schools show a great need for improvement, and to do this, Darling-Hammond implies that stricter certification standards are needed.

In commenting on the 2008 presidential election, Marcus Winters notes the little exposure given to education matters. While debate on this topic was minimal, Winters does approve of one of the candidates’ idea to promote alternative teacher certification. This article briefly traces some of the pros and cons of alternative teacher certification and suggests that an...

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Contrary to popular opinion, Sol Stern believes that the shortage of certified teachers in New York is not a major problem. Stern suggests that many of the so-called unqualified and uncertified teachers are actually talented individuals who have the potential to greatly advance quality education in the schools. This article discusses the success that New Jersey...

Chart or Graph

This chart lists the National Council on Teacher Quality's state by state teacher grade.

This graph demonstrates the monopoly and influence that traditional certification programs have over teachers in California.

Teaching reading is a key element of education, but unfortunately, according to this chart, many education schools are not effectively teaching their students how to properly train children to read.

Number of public high school-level teachers who reported a particular main assignment and the percentage with a major and certification in that main assignment, by subject of main assignment: 2007–08

"For 2011, Florida received the highest overall teacher policy grade with a B, and three other states – Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee – earned B minuses."

This chart indicates the level of teacher proficiency that each state tests for. Ten states do not have a teacher academic proficiency test.

As the title suggests, this chart describes the differences in requirements for true alternative teacher certification and traditional teacher certification.

Analysis Report White Paper

This fifth annual edition of the Yearbook documents more changes in state teacher policy than NCTQ has seen in any of its previous top-to-bottom reviews of the laws and regulations governing the teaching profession in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report explores the original aims and ideals of alternative teacher certification and the gradual shift away from this ideal that has occurred over the years. Walsh and Jacobs surveyed a variety of "alternative" education programs and found that many operate no differently than traditional undergraduate education programs.

This online anthology compiles a number of frequently cited studies and works that discuss a variety of issues dealing with teacher education.

This report compiles a variety of education research in the attempt to determine whether or not official teacher certification is more effective than alternative certification.

Hess, Rotherham, and Walsh recognize that there is a deficit of highly qualified teachers, and claim it is the direct result of poor teacher training programs. The authors also present some of the relevant ideas on alternative teacher certification and discuss whether or not the evidence backs up its claims of success.

"This study is designed to provide historical background and context for current debates about education policy, indicate how we arrived at our present process of teacher education and certification, identify recurring themes in that history, and demonstrate that the current approach to teacher education was neither inevitable nor immutable."

In response to Kate Walsh’s acclaimed study on teacher certification, Linda Darling-Hammond attempts to combat Walsh’s findings against certification with her own findings in favor of certification.

According to Hess, the education establishment is not keeping up with the vocational and geographic mobility that is prevalent in our culture, and that many schools are missing out on the opportunity to have highly talented and educated, yet older adults, pass on their knowledge to children.

This paper by Kate Walsh is one of the most widely cited pieces in studies that address certification standards for teachers. Walsh attempts to break down the research commonly used by those who lobby for higher standards in teacher certification.

In order to present his reformatory ideas, Hess lays out the history of teacher certification and the pros and cons of the current system. In all, this paper seeks to promote the idea that current teacher certification has many downfalls that could be overcome by thinking outside the box.

Although Hess has a conservative, reformative ideology when it comes to teacher certification, this article demonstrates his appeal for a rational, logical look at the entire issue. This piece traces the history and growth of teacher certification, while also explaining the two different viewpoints over this subject.

This manifesto outlines the current course of action in education schools, the reasons why this course of action is ineffective, and multiple ideas which could improve the current situation of teacher quality and quantity in the nation’s high school and elementary academic institutions.

In David Ruenzel’s eyes, the California teacher shortage and the potential for alternative teacher certification seem to be a match made in heaven. Despite this seemingly ideal situation, Ruenzel reveals the extreme difficulty that qualified, but uncertified individuals have to endure in order to even make it into a classroom.

According to the authors of this report, extensive scientific research has been done throughout the years, which shows that there are five basic elements to teaching reading. While this research has been thoroughly proved time and time again, many education schools consistently fail to teach these elements to their teachers in training.

Video/Podcast/Media

This interview features "C. Emily Feistritzer, PhD, President and CEO of the National Center for Alternative Certification (NCAC). Dr. Feistritzer discusses how alternative certification programs can differ from traditional education programs and offers advice for people interested in becoming teachers."

This video acknowledges that there is a need for change and reform in teacher education, but it subtly implies that this change should revolve around progressive policies and ideas. Several of the speakers infer that "education schools" should be teaching their students to be "relevant to the future," instead of focusing on how to train children through traditional...

Primary Document

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"I’m here today to share our ideas about how the Legislature should deal with three education issues in the current session.

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In this "annual state of American education speech," the U.S. Secretary of Education describes his numerous goals for education. The latter part of his speech deals with teacher training, preparation, and certification standards. Riley states that there is a need for an expanded view of alternative certification as well as increased education school standards.

Arthur Wise, the president of NCATE, commends the United Arab Emirates on its successful implementation of a teacher education program comparable to those supported by NCATE in the U.S. In the course of the speech, Wise describes various elements of what NCATE believes are key components of a successful teacher education program.

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As the executive summary states, this report gives "important information regarding teachers' education, certification, teaching assignments, professional development, collaboration, and supportive work environment." The areas on teacher quality and certification cover the long standing debate over whether or not teachers could be more effective by receiving less...

The Christian school is to be favored for two reasons.

Books

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