What Parents Can Do to Fill in the Education Gaps

If you have kids who haven’t started school yet, this information will help you plan ahead and be prepared. If your kids are already in school, it’s still not too late.

Think back to elementary school. Did your children learn phonics and how to sound out words using syllables? Probably not. For some reason, the education system decided that learning new words by sight only was the better way. Students were given a page full of age-appropriate “sight” words. They were never taught how to sound them out or how to break them into syllables. As long as they recognized the entire word, they were fine. The result of the “sight words” method produced high-school students who can’t sound out unfamiliar words or figure out how to pronounce them.

At any grade level, were your children required to learn the U.S. presidents and be able to list them in order? Did they ever learn all 50 states and capitals and could they label them on a map? Did they recite and can they still recite the Pledge of Allegiance by heart? Can they identify other countries, continents, or oceans on a map?

You might be asking yourself, “What American wouldn’t be able to answer yes to these questions?” The answer is: Most people in their twenties or younger can’t because our education system took a detour from some of the most basic lessons. Of course, there are those exceptions – the rare school who realized the importance, the students who learned things out of pure desire and interest, or the parents who recognized it was important even though the schools skimmed right by them.

For the most part, our education system is so broken that they are neglecting the basics that any American should be taught. We’ve become a nation where schools focus on the numbers, the test grades, and how they can spoon-feed information so every student passes. So many high schools still promote college as the be-all, end-all solution at the same time many college graduates are in debt and unemployed.

Aside from a student’s academic requirements, they must also be involved in extracurricular activities, sports, volunteerism, clubs and organizations while still trying to be a normal teen with free time. The pressure is enormous to perform and many do. However, some of these same high-achieving students still can’t sound out an unfamiliar word, name even a fraction of our presidents, identify our 50 states and capitals, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or have a clue what countries are on other continents.

So where do these education detours leave us as parents? It means we have to pick up the slack and fill in the gaps where education fails. It means starting early with your kids to teach them how to sound out new words. It means playing geography games with young kids and using maps to teach them about our country and the world. It means reinforcing the importance of knowing our presidents, or at a very minimum, being able to name and number the ones who made the biggest impact on our country. It means taking the pressure off them from getting straight A’s but instead actually learning the information so they can use it in life. It means not overloading them and letting them enjoy their childhood. It means being a parent and doing what’s right for your child even if that means going against the education system today.

Nancy O’Neill is the Common Sense Consultant. Combining her education and experience, she offers a common sense approach on a variety of topics for entrepreneurs of all ages, authors, speakers, parents, and kids. Life or business does not have to be complicated but many times, people make it that way. Nancy believes the most effective way to help people is by giving them the tools to think for themselves. Through practical, common sense education and coaching, a person can gain the knowledge to become confident in their own abilities and not rely on someone else to spoon-feed them information.