Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preparing for Back to School

Across the country, school bells will begin ringing to welcome back students from their “summer recess”. Those in football, band, cheerleading, or another school pre-season activity may feel as though school already started as they prepare for their new season! Yes, even as an aging 45 year old, the smell of wet, cut fescue on a morning drive to work will quickly invoke memories of those 2-a-day and yes, 3-a-day practices of long ago. Fortunately the transition for me was more bearable than those teammates who failed to prepare during the summer for “the day”!

For elementary children, the demands of pre-season may appear less but with careful attention, can be utilized to equip a child to begin on the right foot. Now don’t get me wrong… Summer is a wonderful time for family activity, rest, and enjoying God’s creation. It can serve as a well needed diversion from the routines of life for both a child and parent. Even so, with the call of school ringing aloud, preparation becomes the friend of choice at present.

Outside of the obvious focus on school supplies, clothes, and maybe the backpack, parents also need to consider something that may have been lost over the summer; math skills. Yes, those basic math facts learned the previous school year have a funny way of just coasting down a nerve to the cochlea and bounced out of the ear off the tympanic membrane… or ear drum for the rest of us. It’s a fact!! These math skills just drift away and eventually congregate in the land of “IDK”. Just ask any child (or adult for that matter) something past learned and see if they don’t mention the land of “I don’t know”.
Fortunately, with the explosion of the internet, parents will find numerous choices to equip their child and bring back the math facts lost to the land of IDK. This is important because it’s been shown that students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Whether true for your child or not, being prepared doesn’t hurt anyone.

So as you begin the new school year, let me be the first to wish you much success in math! I know… math can be challenging… if not down right difficult. Ugh! The key, as with any activity whether academics, athletics, or the arts is repetition. Just keep practicing every school day and before you realize it, the concept will take root, understanding will blossom, and the joy of discovering something new will abound.

Speaking of joy of discovery, I’ll leave you with a phrase I love from the 19th century educationalist Charlotte Mason. Commenting about math she said, “That 2 + 2 = 4 and cannot equal anything else is nothing more than a law. It is a beautiful thing to be brought into the presence of a law, a whole set of laws, that exists without man’s concurrence.”

Who knew that even from math one can learn something more than just… math! Todd Smitherman


Post a Comment