Ask Your 1st-Grader!

In order to help you manage and assess your child’s academic progress, you may want to conduct these simple exercises.

Ask your 1st-grader:

1.  To count to 100 by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s (this is the beginning of multiplication and it helps reinforce your child’s counting skills).

2.  To solve the addition problems 1 + 6 = ? ;  4 + 4 = ? ;  3 + 2 = ? ;  5 + 5 = ? ;  3 + 4 = ? .  Does your child solve these problems easily or does he or she struggle a bit to find the answers?  Either way you may want to seek out additional worksheets to help reinforce this important skill.

3.  To read a book on a first grade level.  Have your child read the book to you.  Mid-way through the book ask your child who the main character is and how he or she thinks the book will end.  Read the rest of the book and see if your child’s prediction was right!

4.  To read for 15 minutes per day.  This will do more to develop your child, academically, than almost any other exercise.

These are just a few exercises you can do to assess and reinforce your child’s development.  Visit our website to find out more information or to find out about the book below.


Plan to Turnaround America’s Most Troubled Schools

12% of America’s schools produce 50% of America’s dropouts, according to President Obama and the Dept. of Education. So the administration has announced an initiative to help the nation’s “5,000” lowest-performing schools over the next 5 years.

The plan offers Title 1 grant money to states & school districts- that money can be implemented using one of four methods::

1. “Turnaround”- Replace and rehire new principals and teachers
2. “Restart”- Convert the school to a charter school or to one run by a management company
3. “Closure”- Close the school and send students to other schools
4. “Transform”- Replace principal, increase teacher effectiveness, increase learning time for students, etc…

One of these four models can be adopted by a school to help “turnaround” education at a failing school.  School districts can compete for the money, determine which schools they want to help, then choose which model best fits each school.

See the example below and let us know your thoughts.

America Should “Have the Best-Educated Citizenry in the World”

President Obama has laid out his plan for helping to turnaround America’s education system.  The efforts involve:

– Transforming lower performing schools

– Motivating students to learn

– Firing consistently under-performing principals and/or teachers

– Increasing the number of students ready for college

– Decreasing the dropout rate

– Being open to alternative schools, like charter schools and schools that are run by management companies

– Increasing America’s competitiveness in the 21st century

See this speech and gain an understanding of his current approach….

Education in India

Have you ever wondered what school systems are like in other parts of the world? I have….

In India, for example there are about 192 million students in their schools, compared to about 75 million in the U.S. (nursery school through college, US Census- ’06-’07). Many children in India are in schools that are not in the conditions we are use to in America and although there have been many advances in India, there are still many children who don’t get an education.

Many of them live in rural areas and often times girls are not allowed to go to school because they are required to stay at home and help out. Young boys may also be asked to help bring income to their families, so as a result millions of children go without an education.

The government just passed a law to make education a right for ALL children in India, ages 6 -14. In 2003 about 25 million children did not attend any school. Today that number is around 8 million.

Now these children will have a right to an education.

Are Detroit & New Orleans Models for Reforming Public Education?

Educators in Detroit recently announced a plan, the Excellent Schools Plan, to turn around the city’s education system.  Unfortunately Detroit has been plagued with low graduation rates and poor performance in the city’s public schools for years.  Thus, the plan to improve its school system is getting a lot of attention from those interested in education reform.

The plan would have:

– Detroit’s Mayor take over the city’s public schools

– Eliminate the elected school board

– Close underperforming schools

– Encourage parents to choose the best options for schools for their children

– Open new schools to replace the failing ones

– Create competition between charter schools, public schools, and private schools for students in the hope that the best schools will attract students

The plan is controversial as it would do away with the elected school board and would place a lot of authority in the hands of the mayor.

Is this the blueprint for the future?

There have been other examples, such as the efforts in New Orleans, post Katrina.

In New Orleans, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) school district ran the majority of the schools before Hurricane Katrina hit.  The school board now runs 4 public schools and 12 charter schools.  The Orleans Parish School Board is still an elected school board.

In addition to the OPSB, New Orleans has a Recovery School District (RSD) which was originally created in 2003 to take over schools that were underperforming.  After Katrina, the Recovery School District  took on a more active role and now runs about 24 public schools and 47 charter schools in New Orleans.  The New Orleans Recovery School District is managed by a superintendent who is appointed by the state.

What do you think?  Should control of underperforming schools be taken away from local school boards and given to other state or local authorities?  Should more charter and private schools be allowed to compete for students in many areas where student test scores are low?

Is this the way to reform our school systems?

What do you think?

Budget Cuts: Are School Systems Changing Right Before Our Eyes and What Does This Mean For Your Child?

The Los Angeles School District recently struck an agreement with the city’s teacher’s union; agreeing to cut 5 days from the school year this year and 7 days from the school year next year, due to budget cuts.

This deal was needed to avoid the possible laying off of teachers, counselors, and other school officials.  LA, like other school districts around the country, is facing a budget crisis due to the slow economy and reduced revenues from taxes.

I understand that something has to be done…. school closings, reduced days in school, less teachers, larger class sizes, etc… are all ways school districts are trying to deal with decreases in funding.

But what does this do to our children in the short-run and in the long-run?  Are we going to produce some children, over the next couple of years, who are more ill-prepared academically, because there is so much flux in school systems across the country?

Because they are sitting in larger classes?  Because they have less days of instruction in the school year?  Because teachers may be concerned about keeping their jobs?  Because certain school programs may be cut?

As parents, we have to get involved.  We have to find out if there are any cuts that will affect our children in the schools they attend.  We have to make sure our voices are heard and WE have to understand WHAT our children need to learn in order to be successful academically.  If we don’t, there is no guarantee our children will graduate with what they need to be successful in the 21st century.

Take a look at Education World and see if there are standards that can help you raise your child’s academic abilities and see if you can work with your child’s school/teachers to ensure your child gets what he or she needs academically.

Ask Your 3rd-Grader!

Ask Your 3rd-Grader:

To help you determine how your child is progressing in third grade, you may want to conduct a few exercises.

Ask your 3rd-grader:

1.  For the number 6,745, ask your child how many thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones are in this number (Answer:  There are 6 thousands, 7 hundreds, 4 tens, and 5 ones in this number).

2.  To add up the total amount, for a given number of dollars and cents, up to $10.  For example, give your child 2 one dollar bills, 1 five dollar bill, and 2 quarters and ask him or her to add up the total amount.  Answer: $7.50.

3.  To tell time to the nearest minute using a clock with “hands.”

4.  To write a paragraph about his or her favorite subject in school (or favorite thing to do, etc…) using a topic sentence, 2 or 3 supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.

These are just a couple of exercises you can do to check how your child is progressing in third grade.  See our Paragraph Guide for help with writing paragraphs.