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Friday, October 19, 2007

Starting Down the Path of Education

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. - Aristotle
A great many authors over the last ten years or so have written convincingly on the rapidly growing economic divide in this nation, and along with this economic divide is a similar educational divide. Which of these divides came first is open to debate, but will have to be taken up by another columnist. Because like most of you, what really matters to me most is how we can ensure more of our kids are included in the group with a superior education.
Those of you who have kept up with my writing know that I believe education, when jacketed by love and compassion, is the magic bullet; as a cure for both an individual’s struggles and for societal strife as a whole. Lord Brougham noted, “Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
Once you have bought into the indispensableness of education, then the question becomes how to ensure your children are put on the right track to a real education. While on the whole I am not a fan of homeschooling, if you choose that route become familiar with the many organizations available to make it a success for your family. Pay particular attention to the potential advantages and limitations of home schooling and realize that whether you home school or go to some other school system, you will have to augment and tailor your child’s education to get the best education possible for your child.
Read to your children, early and often, LONG before you believe they are getting something out of it. The loving time they spend with you, listening to you, helps with discipline and will instill a love of learning and reading. If you need help, there are reading programs for kids at the library and adult literacy programs at NIC, both of which are free.
A conversation with the elementary school your child will attend or a quick look at the curriculum on the school district web site will provide you with a list of skills your child should have before they start school. At a minimum: an ability to behave and follow simple directions, having learned colors, shapes, numbers, letters, be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and understand simple science such as the difference between plants and animals, and the states of matter. If your child can do more advanced tasks such as read aloud, and perform simple math computations such as double digit addition and subtraction, they will be ahead of the game. The most important thing you can do however to prepare your child for school and life in general, is provide a safe environment; one free of substance or personal abuse, but full of love and natural inquiry and curiosity. Last, an attitude that outside of being a good human being, nothing is more important than a great education.

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