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By Kari Jensen

Parents can supplement their kids’ education

What’s missing in public education now

Through budget cuts and the increased emphasis on higher state-required test scores, many parents feel that their children are not getting enough learning with their education and are looking for ways to supplement their schools’ offerings. There are many avenues available, so it’s important to focus on not only what’s missing, but also on what’s wanted. After kindergarten, children are in school for 6 hours a day, and they often have homework as well. This makes for a long work day, and the addition of more after school might be dismal enough of a prospect to put the kids off of school entirely.

George Washington’s cherry tree story was a lie, yet was used as an example of honesty.

One of the subjects glaringly absent from today’s public school curriculum is philosophy or basic critical thinking skills. After school is a great time to introduce children to the art of learning why we learn, to learn how to ask questions that matter, to reflect upon why people behave the way they do and to put their school subjects into a broader perspective. Parents can help their children learn this by allowing focused decompression time after school, guided with questions designed to allow reflection. Interaction without judgment is crucial, and will help make the child feel more connected to a situation that can sometimes feel overwhelming. This will help the parents also by providing invaluable insights into their child’s life away from home.

Making of a world citizen

The Internet has vastly opened up learning opportunities, and can be very effectively utilized by parents seeking to open up their child’s horizons. It’s important to be mindful of security issues though. It’s important to apply a certain amount of limitations within the child’s Internet use, including using a timer to help avoid the disappointment that happens when it’s time to log off. There are many new avenues available to supplement school education in all areas, such as to get different viewpoints in historical situations, learn foreign languages, join a cooperative scientific research site like iNaturalist, follow the voyages of explorers in space and on Earth and so on. This technology provides a delightful diversion for all ages and is extremely educational.

Tutoring options for kids and parents

Children who need some extra help with their schoolwork have a variety of tutoring options available at home, in person as well as online. Peer tutoring is usually available through high schools, using students doing tutoring for credit and available by contacting the school counselor. Students in the same or higher age group can find the peer tutoring intimidating, however, as they fear being judged, but it can be a supportive sibling situation if the tutor is older and kind. There are many online class programs who also provide tutoring support, through programs like K12, Club-Z!, Sylvan and Kumon, which may also be used to advance studies for children with higher aptitudes or interests.

It’s not so much what’s missing as what’s new

Supplementing your child’s education is a wonderful thing for a parent to do, and there are so many options available that it’s difficult to know which is best. Here are a few ideas that might help.

  • After school tea time with snacks and conversations.
  • Learn something new together, online or in the library.
  • Let the child pick online games that really do have educational benefits, like
  • Walk around the neighborhood and discuss the environment, the architecture, the reasons for why the area looks the way it does.

The best thing any parent can do to supplement their child’s education at home is to help the children make sense of it all, to connect it for them and with them and to get them extra help like tutoring or extra classes if they need it. Childhood is a short part of a long life, and sometimes the best educational supplement that can be offered is just to act as a loving translator for the incomprehensible busyness that can make up a child’s day.

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