Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is no child left behind stupid in America?

In the state of Florida, the motto for education is "read by nine". I think that this is too old to expect a child to be able to read. They should start reading as they recognize letters. My children began reading in both English and Arabic by the age of five. I do not think that this is because they are exceptionally smart. I think that they are normal. The United States government wanted to hold schools accountable for their students. They implemented The No Child Left Behind program. This required the students to take state mandated achievement tests and the schools were left responsible for the results. When the program was first introduced, my state was at the bottom of the list in scores. The schools get funding based on their test scores. With the low scores, the state became very aggressive to raise the scores. My question is: "Does designing the whole educational process to pass a test and get funding educate a child?" Many parents have expressed to me that their child's curriculum is completely centered around passing those tests. I think that achievement tests are great to track your child's progress, however the entire teaching process should not be studying for those tests. The tests in my state are only for reading and math. If the education is mainly concentrated on this, what about the social sciences such as History, Social Studies, and Science? Is this really making children smarter and more educated? If you saw this piece on 20/20 you might wonder. It is called Stupid in America. I myself was raised in rural Indiana. I attribute my lack in education due to the environment mostly concentrating on farming. Therefore, when I started college I was very far behind in Math. After taking several remedial courses,I was able to catch myself up to the college level. I have a good friend whose son graduated from highschool last year in urban Orlando Florida. He had the same problem. He also had to start in remedial math. According to the ABC article, this may be a trend. There is another interesting piece of information about education out there. This one is put out by the National Geographic. They did a survey to test the geographic literacy of 18-24 year old individuals. I was really shocked at the results.
Take a look and see what you think. I have to say, that the k12 curriculum does an excellent job with geography. They start having the children in kindergarten learn all the continents and the oceans. At first I though it was a bit to much for a five year old. But now, at 8 and 10 years old, they know all the continents, the oceans, many of the rivers, mountain ranges and many of the countries inside each continent. I also think that being Muslim educates my children about different cultures and countries. I look forward to any responses about this subject. Until I started homeschooling, I never really new the problem existed.


banu said...

assalamu alaikum Ummnour,
Alhamduillah..I must welcome you back. Yes I agreed with you... kids should start reading at 5 yrs. All they need is some support from their parents. Alhamduillah Riyaadh started when he was 4 yrs. and it was not a burden for him. They really need to change their laws insha Allah and help the child instead.
ma salaama
love Banu

muslimbychoice said...

Asalaam' Alaikum:

I couldn't imagine waiting later than when they are interested in learning letters. My children have a great desire to learn their letters and how to read.

The other day we bought a chocolate bar (one of those wonderful pregnancy cravings!) and my daughter - before eating it, told her sister it says "H E R S H E Y S" on it. We are working on learning to read - we took a break for a while because she didn't have the desire to sit still and learn - but we are now going back at it. She is also now writing letters all over any piece of paper she can find and she is trying to actually write words - it is amazing. To hold them back or to keep them from this knowledge I feel is wrong - if they want to learn it, by all means do. I know kids start the desire at different ages, but I would use their desire to learn as a key factor in deciding when to jump in and do it, insha'Allah.

Asalaam 'Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

Maria said...

Salam Um Nour,

The policy sounds really strange. I'm surprised really because by 9 kids should be able to read fluently, and sometimes in more than 1 language to be able to enjiy a range of genre writing.

In Malaysia, pressure is on for children to enril in reading classes even at the age of 3. I'm not agreeing with pressuring a child that young but I think 9 is really late.

I started reading only at 6 (American International School) and I think that was late. I'd prefer my kids to start reading at about 4-5, insha'Allah if they are able to.

Not being able to read is such a deprivation.

Maria (finally on blogspot!)

Anonymous said...

Assalamualikum i used to think it would be good to teach kids from a young age, till i realised how diffferent they all are.

i spoke to many homeschooling sisters about their experiences and i have to say the one that really stood out was a sister who told us about how her eldest son got into reading around 6/7 but her second one couldn't seem to get it though he was very academic.

so they both got stressed about it and she left him alone, instead of trying to push him into submission. around 7 he was reading, because he wanted to. by 12 he was reading very academic physics books and asking all sorts about science. she has a very unschooling approach. both boys r now in college. the point was she never set an age by when they should start learning. she let them go at their own pace.
she taught them the basic phonics sounds when they showed an interest after that alhumdulilah no.1 went on with it but no.2 didn't get it.

i was also reading things similar to this on the natural child project site. they have plenty of interesting articles there

In a book by jan goodman (i think) about eyesight, she talks of how children are stating to wear glasses from younger ages due to be stressed out at school etc. if the children and most do, want to learn and ask questions, like all our children seem to, alhumdullilah we should encourage them. and not kill their enthusiasm, as seems to happen in school, but in the UK tony blair wants kids reading by 3! or 5. if parents don't talk to children enough then those children won't be able to learn to read by 3 esp. if they have been in nursery and daycare since toddlerhood.

one thing that sister i mentioned told me was, everything starts orally for the little ones, esp. learning lang. reading, writing etc also if they see us read it encourages them.

Muslim Unity said...

I feel children learn much more when you leave them alone and just guide them.
Don't force them into anything, they eenjoy finding out and learning new things that way.
May Allah bless everybody!

Um Nour said...

Assalm alykom to all those who responded to my blog. I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions. However, I hope that I was not misunderstood as someone who pushes education on my children. Like most of you who responded, I feel that each child developes differently and at his or her own pace. We should not push them to hard but we should avail them all the opportunities that are available. I think with the public schools, the children miss out on opportunities that are their for them. This is why they are furthur behind then their other counter parts in other countries. The nice thing about homeschooling is you can really have the time to tailor your child's education to what suits him or her. If you need to take more time in a certain area you can do that and if you need to skip over things because he or she already knows it you can also do that. I look forward to hearing from more of you with your suggestions as we travel the road of homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

Great site lots of usefull infomation here.

Khadi Um Ismail said...

Assalamou aleikoum wa rahmatoullah wa barakatou,

my 5 year old son knows his alphabet and in september, we are going to start on sounds Inshallah and the reading process. He wants to read.
His little sis, who is 3 , is not interested at all. So, she joins us at the learning table but she does drawing (and on the walls too) . It is what she likes, so, i let her.
I could read fluenly by the time I was 6, Mashallah. This is because I loved story books but I seldom had someone to read them to me, so , i wanted to read myself. I grew up with ''the famous five'' and ''Alice'' etc..
And Inshallah, I have instilled in my children the love and respect of books.
With story books come the development of the imagination. And there is no childhoold complete without imagination.
Start to read at 9??? that is way to late.

As for wanting the children to read by the age of 3, it is another crazy idea. But I am not surprised, becasue if you look at babies toys, what do you have ? ABCs on everything.. Oh, for Allah's sake, let's the babies be babies, what do they care about ABC and 123 ??
By the way, sister Um Nur, I absolutely love your blog, but I do not always have the time to comment.
May Allah reward you in good for your time and efforts. ameen

Khadi, Um ismail