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3 Ways Parents Waste Valuable Learning Time for Their Kids
Many American children today fall further behind in their education each year due to cuts in school funding. With fewer factory jobs in the US, a good education has become critical to finding a well-paying job in today’s information and technology-oriented economy. Tomorrow’s economy will be even more competitive, and Americans will compete for jobs on a global scale. All parents want their child to achieve the American dream. However, schools alone do not determine whether children have what they need to succeed. Parents are in the driver’s seat when it comes to how their children spend their time outside the classroom. They can make a big difference in their child’s future by avoiding these common mistakes.
Allowing too much “screen time”
The average American child spends 28 hours each week watching television, which translates to 1,456 hours a year, and 24,752 hours by the time they turn 18 (assuming they start on their first birthday, which many do). 24,752 hours is approximately 2 years and 9 months of their childhood spent staring at the TV TV time is time NOT spent: reading, exercising, doing puzzles, drawing, playing with other children, doing schoolwork and other activities that they help the child learn and grow as a person. In the time most kids spend in front of the TV, they could have learned a second language or gotten a black belt in karate!
They do not ensure that their child reads on a daily basis
In New York City, approximately 75 percent of public high school students who enroll in community colleges are required to take remedial courses in math or English before starting college. At the very least, this means that students, or their parents, have to pay for additional courses on top of the normal tuition fees. According to National Education Association Today, the only way for children to become good readers is through practice. Even small amounts of reading each week add up over the years.
Many parents believe that art and music are “art” and don’t realize that art can have a big impact on other areas of learning. In a UCLA study of Chicago-area schools, elementary students who attended schools where the arts were integrated into the classroom curriculum outperformed their peers in math who were not in the program. More than 60 percent of these students, who are involved in the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, scored at or above the math portion of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills compared to 40 percent of their peers (who may fall further behind each year). Any artistic activity, from painting to visiting local art museums to taking music lessons, can have lasting benefits for mind development.
So how can parents provide better learning opportunities outside the classroom?
Here are some suggestions that cost little or nothing in time or money:
Limit or eliminate TV Most parents won’t get rid of TV entirely, but setting clear limits on viewing time—such as no TV on school nights—will force kids to find other activities to entertain themselves (or finish their homework). Some parents worry that their children will complain that they are bored as soon as they turn off the TV, but boredom is often needed as a motivator to get a child to have fun in a productive way – by finding a new hobby, playing a board game. with their siblings or playing sports.
Go to the library at least once a month. Almost every American household has access to a public library nearby, and many have an interlibrary loan system to provide access to books that their library does not have. Many have children’s librarians who can recommend good books and help them get on the shelves. Parents pay tax on these services, so why not use them?
Get your child started on an art project. It can be as simple as placing crayons and paper on the kitchen table and encouraging them to draw, asking them to make a homemade birthday card or decorating cookies with colored frosting and candies. There are project books for kids at your local library and plenty of free websites that give parents and kids activity ideas. Even just looking at different types of painting exposes the child to different art and broadens his horizons.
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