“A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started…He will assume control of your cities, states, and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations…The fate of humanity is in his hands. ~Abraham Lincoln
How important is early exposure to reading and keyboarding to today’s students? Very important! Knowing how to read, reading to understand, and typing on a computer keyboard have become essential with the implementation of Common Core (CC) standards and the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~Joseph Addison
Let me begin with the importance of reading. Reading builds knowledge and increases vocabulary. In particular, reading books aloud to young children fosters listening and speaking skills, and encourages discussion. Children enter school knowing how to question, clarify, summarize and predict at the most basic level. Depending on their literacy background, they may also be able to compare and contrast previous stories to the new ones that they are learning and identify patterns.
No matter how busy your life may be, you always have 20 minutes. Start there. One book. One Read Aloud discussion. Not only might you find it relaxing to stop and sit, but you get to talk to your child about things that might not otherwise come up in conversation. Visit your local library for new books to read.
Anyone who has school-age children has seen the new curriculum. As an educator, I will tell you, that although the transition period may be challenging, I actually like it. Students have to use their reading comprehension skills in all subjects. They have to use what they know to solve problems. I like this because I don’t want our future leaders to live in a multiple-choice world. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t always black-and-white.
The student armed with information will always win the battle. ~Meladee McCarty
If you are reading this online blog, then it is fair to say that you know your way around a computer keyboard. If you live with, or know small children, do they know how to operate a computer keyboard? By the way, using a game controller or swiping a screen and finding a cell phone or tablet app does not count as computer-literate in the eyes of an educator. Does the child know what the space bar and return/enter keys are for? Do they know how to type a capital letter, punctuation, or the symbols above the numbers? Do they know how to space between sentences and paragraphs? Do they know where the letters w, j, and z are located?
If you don’t believe me about the urgency to start keyboarding skills early, then look at the new standards. The following CC Writing standards may be surprising to some:
First Grade W.1.6: With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including collaboration with peers.
Third Grade W.3.6: With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboard skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Fifth Grade W.5.6: With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing, as well to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
These standards specifically say with the guidance and support from adults, however, when students complete CAASPP, the online state test, teachers are not allowed to “guide” or “support” them. Students respond to questions by typing short answers or multiple-paragraph essays. Can you already see the frustration on the nine-year-old’s face that doesn’t know the letters on the keyboard? I’m not saying that I like multiple-choice tests. On the contrary, I like that students get to explain their thoughts. I wonder though, how many students give up writing a quality answer because they are frustrated with typing?
Is there a solution? Yes, but everyone needs to work together to guide, educate, support, and motivate our future generations. First, families need to set the foundation before the child enters school. Don’t wait for the kindergarten teacher to teach them about letters, sounds, and books. Make reading a priority in your home. Let them know how important reading is in your own daily life. Lastly, find a fun online typing program, geared for children, to help them learn keyboarding skills.
Families also need to realize that support does not mean providing the answers or doing the work for them. Common Core is about finding the Why and How, not just the Who, What and Where. Problem solving is taught in all subjects. Children need to know that they will make mistakes. They also need to know that mistakes are lessons to be learned. Accountability and responsibility are two of the most important lessons that you can teach your child.
Educators, like myself, need to continue to utilize our time wisely, embrace new ideas, and acquire new methods of instruction that inspire, motivate, and promote learning.
In the end, the thing to remember is that it is not about us and our busy lives. It is ALL about the kids! Their education not only affects their future, but ours as well.