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....

In this article, Charles Murray explains the need that highly gifted children have for a solid, classical education. Classical education involves more than the pursuit of high knowledge, for as Murray implies, a solid, classical education will involve the study of character and sound...

This interview finds Tracy Lee Simmons discussing the issues of classical education in today’s schools. According to Simmons, classical education - and its emphasis on Greek and Latin - was the schooling norm for many centuries. Simmons believes that classical education provides...

In an interview with George Clowes, Susan Bauer explains the core principles of child education and describes how classical education effectively fulfills those same principles. According to Bauer, current public education...

Education philosopher E.D. Hirsch uses this article to differentiate between the romantic and classical ideas of education. According to Hirsch, the romantic - and eventually progressive - idea of creativity and natural learning gradually usurped the unnatural form of...

In this article, Russell Kirk seeks to describe the components and benefits of a liberal education. According to Kirk, "True education is meant to develop the individual human being, the person, rather than to serve the state." Kirk opines that giving students a...

This essay lays out the tenets of classical education or the "trivium." According to Bauer, the "trivium" revolves around "grammar," "logic," and "rhetoric," and presents an education that draws on effective practices and sources from history. In short, classical...

This article explains the philosophical differences between Aristotle and Plato and then relates these differences to the classical education system. According to Cothran, Aristotle’s philosophies represent one of the crowning features of classical...

Analysis Report White Paper

This article gives an extensive overview of education - particularly compulsory education - in a variety of western countries through the years. Rothbard seeks to convince his audience that an individualized, parental directed education is much better for a child than the state run, robotic, institutionalized education that is the general norm.

Peter Berkowitz takes a look at what education currently consists of on the university front and determines that many students are not being offered a well-rounded curriculum of knowledge. He describes John Stuart Mill’s ideal "liberal education," which combines classical education elements with more recent, scientific, and advanced subjects.

This article traces the evolution of "formal education" throughout history, particularly in the medieval era. Herbener declares that the education process and market was much more productive in the eras in which parents or private entities were responsible for child education.

Plato’s educational philosophies seem to have encompassed the whole being, for as Kamtekar explains, "Plato describes education as a process in which the natural capacities of the soul—and especially of reason—are awakened and developed."

According to the author, modern education practices fail to train a child’s mind to learn and expand beyond their school years, a fact which Sayers attributes to the academic decline that is currently occurring.

Video/Podcast/Media

In this lecture Professor Nash explores how books and libraries molded the "remarkable elite that made and preserved the American Revolution."

Andrew Coulson discusses the history of education covering ancient times, the Middle Ages, Colonial America and the devlopment of public government-run education in England and America.

This video clip features the audio version of chapter one from The Abolition of Man. This well-known book describes some of C.S. Lewis' views on education practices and theories. Lewis condemns many of the popular educational theories of his day, most notably the process of grammar instruction via "the little green book."

In the second audio section of The Abolition of Man, Lewis begins to question the educational methods of the twentieth century. According to Lewis, the educators of his day were filling children’s minds with philosophical ideas rather than the factual elements which are commonly believed to be the purpose of education. Lewis thus implies that education in...

The third audio section of The Abolition of Man finds Lewis quoting the ideas of many Jewish, Greek, and other ancient educational philosophers. Lewis opines that education should consist of instilling objective truths in young people, not "propaganda" like Lewis believes the educators of his day were engaged in.

This is the final audio section of chapter one from The Abolition of Man. In this part Lewis concludes that the educational ideas of his day were inhibiting students from true learning and were thus producing "men without chests," a product which Lewis soundly condemned.

Primary Document

"This essay, written sometime during King's junior year at Morehouse, explores the dual function of education. According to King, education must 'discipline the mind' and orient human life around a set of morals. Without this latter component, King warns, education is 'a ship without a compass.'"

"The English nation, for their improvements in the theory of government, has, at least, more merit with the human race than any other among the moderns. The late most beautiful and liberal speculations of many writers, in various parts of Europe, are manifestly derived from English sources. Americans, too, ought for ever to acknowledge their obligations to English writers, or rather have as...

A key foundational work in philosophical writings, Plato’s Republic is considered to be "the first treatise upon education." As the introduction notes, Plato’s educational philosophies are expressed specifically in the second section of the ...

"Whether you agree with his ideas or not, Rousseau was an intellectual force of such magnitude that his ideas still impact our thinking about human nature and the educational process two centuries later. His work Emile compares to Plato's Republic in its remarkable breadth. Not only does the book describe a pedagogical method for training children...

Immanuel Kant’s treatise on education declares that the topic consists of "discipline," "culture," "discretion," and "morality." Kant deals with the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the child, and gives a variety of practical suggestions on how to...

In Meyer v. Nebraska, the Supreme Court struck down a law that prohibited teaching German or other foreign languages until the ninth grade. The Court reasoned that there was no compelling need in this case to infringe on the rights of parents and teachers to decide the best course of education for students. This court helped to shape the meaning of and rights to...

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)     ...

According to Terrence Moore's introduction to this work, George Turnbull was the only philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment to write extensively on the issue of education. Moore explains that although Turnbull drew from John Locke’s work on education,...

"God, that made all things good, and blessed them, Gen. i. 28—31, imparted expressly this blessing first to his creatures, capable thereof, that they should increase and multiply in their kind. More especially, God created our first parents, male and female, and blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.' This order then set, he hath preserved to this day, and...

John Stuart Mill was a British political philosopher and politician. In this classic essay, he argues that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

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...

According to Plutarch, the education of children should begin from the point of their conception. This fact suggests that Plutarch viewed education as something more than the mastery of various scholastic subjects; indeed, this piece demonstrates that...

In this piece, Quintilian, a Spanish-born Roman orator, describes what he believes is the ideal course for educating a child. Quintilian encourages early instruction in a variety of areas, including Greek and Latin, as well as good role-models and...

In the eyes of John Locke, the education of a child includes more than books and schooling. Indeed, Locke’s thoughts on education cover the whole physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional being of the...

"The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia is designed to be a complete classified arrangement of the Writings of Thomas Jefferson on Government, Politics, Law, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, Manufactures, Navigation, Finance, Morals, Religious Freedom, and many other topics of permanent human interest. It contains everything of importance that Jefferson wrote on these subjects."

In the eyes of Maria Montessori, "Education is to guide activity, not repress it." This statement expresses the nature of Montessori’s educational views, which are still frequently referenced and...

The Christian school is to be favored for two reasons.

Aristotle, one of the best known Western philosophers, concluded his work on ethics with the statement that he intended to look into "the whole question of the management of a state." The Politics was his effort to do so. He examines the origin and purpose of government, and then discusses Plato's The Republic and other proposed and existing forms of government.

Books

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