Learning Shouldn't Be a Mystery
Lately, I’ve been so busy working on our GameBud product I haven't blogged in quite some time; however, some alarming news about students' test scores necessitated some comments from me, cuz, well, we all have an opinion.
As you may have read, scores in both reading and math fell double digits in 4th and 8th grades. That’s absolutely alarming! I suspect a lot of that is accurate; however, some things that may have contributed to children’s learning downturn are not so visible, and it goes back a few years. Many believe Covid and the need for homeschooling over the last few years are the problems.
Several years ago, when I was developing a learning line of products for preschoolers, I worked with many educators in early childhood development. One thing that stood out to me during our conversations was that we all must learn to learn and learn at an early age. Seems simple right? Many educators believe if a child hasn’t learned how to learn by the 2nd or 3rd grade, they will consistently fall behind in school, adding to their frustration. A pretty vast generalization, I know, and of course, there are often other reasons that cause learning issues, but I think we assume “teach and they will learn” is the answer. I’d suggest the teach part is ineffective if the child doesn’t know how to learn.
We know there are many focused learning products on the market for children as young as one year old, and although they help a child find an answer, those products only offer half the solution. As popular as licensed characters are as products, they entertain, but most don't do a lot to help a child learn.
So, where's my concern? It sometimes sounds like I'm a broken record (boy, that's a bit of a boomer saying), but a lot of this falls on the parent or caregiver early in a child’s life. We know getting involved in play with their child is so vital for them to discover how to learn by asking questions. Their questions will start to connect, and eventually, they will discover learning is facilitated by asking, "Why." Simple enough, right?
The thing is that parents need to give some focus on this. Yes, there has been plenty going on with lockdowns, remote learning, economy, and making ends meet; but setting kids in front of a computer for a zoom learning class degrades the learning experience tenfold. Having a teacher look a child in the eyes makes for a connection. That, unfortunately, just doesn't happen remotely. Now the kids are back in school, and many are behind. I’m so glad at leat they are back in a classroom!
The youngest child has a built-in desire to learn, but without some help, it could slow their progress. It doesn't take a lot for parents to help. Ask questions. It doesn't matter the child's age; keep asking questions and have fun with it. For instance, look for ways to ask questions and make them think. Looking at a tall pole or a flagpole, ask them, "So what do you think it would take us to climb up that pole and sit on the top?" "What do we need?" "What problems are we going to face?" Each answer lets the child think through the problems and look for solutions. They are training the brain to sort out options…learning to learn.
So, although I’m not a qualified educator, I’ve seen enough children learn more when they have someone to urge them on. Technically it's
called scaffolding, and it's really nothing more than someone who can ask questions.
Hopefully, there are more extensive solutions to the poor test scores; however in the meantime, let's make sure we stick with the kids and help them learn to learn.