Common core is the newest educational change going on in our public schools right now.  This is the first year it has been implemented. I do not have children in the public school system at the moment but I have not heard anything positive about this new movement from my friends with school aged children.
I have been interested in preparing my four year old for kindergarten and therefore checked the library for books on teaching children how to read. I came across the book What Your Kindergarten Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning. It is edited by the founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation, E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and John Holdren, the senior VP at K12 Inc, an online provider of education for grades K-12.
In the introduction of the book, the authors explain the goals and purposes of "Common Core." As I understand it, the goals are to bring a better foundation of knowledge to children across the country in the areas of history, geography, mathematics, science, language arts and fine arts.  They gave one example of this when learning how to read.  Learning how to sound out the letters of a word and say the word is one thing, but if you do not know the meaning of the word, then how can you comprehend the thing which you have just read.  If you cannot comprehend it, then can that be counted as reading?  If children are taught not only vocabulary words found in fiction books but in non-fiction books as well, they will become better readers. For instance, a word like vertebrae probably won't be found in a story you might read with your child and if they encounter that word later on they might not be able to understand the sentence they are trying to read.  The authors encouraged parents and educators to read non-fiction books along with their fiction books so that children might get a wider range of knowledge, thereby increasing their vocabulary and increasing their ability to read. 

Along with providing students with a broad knowledge base, they also want the things children are learning to be more detailed and specific from state to state for each grade.  That way, if a child moves to a different state, or even to the next grade with children from another class (with a different teacher), they will be on the same page.  They gave the example of a teacher talking about Christopher Columbus and some children saying, :"We learned this last year," while others had never heard of him. While they have standards of what they think all children of a certain grade should know, they also leave room for individual schools/states/districts to be flexible in  meeting the local needs. You can find what the standards or "Core Knowledge Sequences" are for each grade here.  Click on the link at the left that says "Download the Core Knowledge Sequence". 
So after reading the introduction to the book and the first section on Language and Literature, I decided to buy the book.  I am actually really looking forward to working on these things with my four-year-old.  The book gives great examples of how to teach your child.  I started using some of the things they suggested when reading a simple story right away.  It was fun to ask Nora what she thought was going to happen in the story after only reading a few pages instead of just breezing through the book.  She really stopped and thought about some of the questions I was asking her.

The one thing I personally found negative while studying what "Common Core" is all about was found on the Philosophy part of the website.  It stated , "Our work is not driven by ideology, but logically by science, history, and research." Now, I just hope this isn't saying that they are going to teach against believing in God.  I know its a touchy subject in the schools right now and I am not saying that they need to teach about God in schools but I would be very uneasy if this is saying that children are being taught not to believe in God because He can not be explained by "logical science, history or research".

Overall, I am excited about the book I got and to work on some stuff so my daughter can be better prepared for Kindergarten. I hope to continue to learn about "Common Core" and be able to be a well educated parent.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how your children have been affected by this new movement and whether or not you are pleased with the changes.  I know it hasn't even been a full year, and it will probably take time to get all the kinks worked out but I would love to hear if anyone out there has had a positive experience with this. 

There are books in this series for each grade up to 6th grade. But you can download the Core Knowledge Sequence for up to grade 8 HERE .

1 comment :

  1. A friend of ours had this to say:


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