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By Renée Smith | j&R Tutoring Academy of Indiana

One of the best things about the Internet is the vast amount of knowledge at one’s fingertips! You can either go look for it, or with the many social networks and blogs, the information comes to you.

Since I began writing this blog, I have been fortunate – most of the time – to receive information from numerous writers on a variety of subjects. One writer who primarily discusses home schooling issues addressed an educational topic that I had never before considered.

Why do instructors and curricula address mistakes and deficiencies? More to the point, why don’t they focus on each student’s strengths rather than pointing out weaknesses? To me this was a revolutionary concept!

Think about it! What if we focused on a student’s strengths rather than going over – and over – those items not mastered?

I have noted numerous times that children develop at different rates, and they do not develop all their skills at the same time. What if a curriculum were designed to build upon the skills that have been mastered? A child would experience success and hopefully gain self-confidence.

This system would not eliminate skills not mastered, but rather introduce them later in the educational process. Every child is good at something! A child who possesses self-confidence is going to be more willing to address new, more difficult areas.

Obviously this type of education would, by nature, be quite individualized and the exact opposite of today’s educational trends.

With the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the nationalized curriculum that is rapidly following, the one-size-fits-all curriculum concept is nearly a done deal. By its nature CCS cannot allow for individual differences. I was told by one proponent that it was going to be great when a child moved from one state to another because the child would be at the same spot in the curriculum!

On the surface that sounds like a good idea. What it really does is ignore the vast developmental differences common in young children. Even very young children are aware when they don’t know something. They may act out or become quiet and disengage. Continuing to focus on and “trying to fix” the problem area often has the reverse affect.

Just imagine your child coming home excited because s/he did so well in addition that s/he was going to get to do extra math activities! Maybe the spelling grade had been poor, but the teacher was not going to focus on that.

Rather than focusing on why the child does poorly in spelling, the teacher provides extra incentives in math where the child does well. The child may or may not ever become a quality speller, but is that a reason not to nurture an area where the child does excel?

Not all skills develop at the same time or at the same rate. Why not encourage strengths while continuing to work on, but not dwell on, areas of weakness? Just a thought …

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