In 2013, Dr. Ben Carson gave a fabulous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast attended by President Obama and the First Lady. While many people called attention to controversial topics, I want to put the spotlight on his thoughts on education.
Carson was born to a single, illiterate mother and grew up in a very poor household. From early childhood, education made an enormous difference in Carson’s life. This article “Ben Carson and the Mother Behind the Man” gives a brief summary of his childhood based on the movie, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.
[Ben’s mother Sonya] knew that she had to do something to help her boys begin to live up to their potential. And though she didn’t know what to do, she knew Someone who did know. So she prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance.
She also paid attention to the habits of the high achievers she worked for. She made some decisions and told her sons about them: they were to choose and read two library books per week and hand in book reports to her (they didn’t know she couldn’t read), and they were to limit TV to two pre-selected programs per week, watchable only after homework was done. Two books per week! Benny thought, alarmed. He had never read a book in his life. And how would he live with almost no TV?
Ben’s mother repeatedly told her sons that they could do anything anybody else could do, and do it better, if they would only work hard at it. She always had faith in them, and she never accepted excuses. She made none for herself, and would accept none from them–for their own good.
Ben Carson went from the bottom of his fifth grade class to the top of his sixth grade class in one and a half years. He earned a scholarship to Yale and became the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital when he was thirty-three years old. He was one of the youngest people to ever hold such a position, and the first black person to have a position like that in a world-renowned medical center. In the first seven years of his career, he performed breakthrough surgeries that changed the lives of his patients.
His story shows that anything is possible! If you haven’t already watched Carson’s National Prayer Breakfast speech, I highly suggest you do. In just a half hour, you will be inspired by his story and his views on education.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview he did with the Daily Caller after the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013:
TheDC: You mentioned education a lot during the speech, and a well-informed public. Do you think that the public is ill-informed and that it led to the president’s re-election?
BC: Well, all you have to do is look at some of those segments that Jay Leno does (laughs), where he asks basic questions. As I alluded to in the speech, you look at a 6th-grade exit exam from the 1800s and you look at the kinds of things people were expected to know. I mean, if you were to pose those questions to people, they’d say, “That’s ridiculous. How can you expect me to know that?”
Yes, we have dumbed things down enormously and we need to get them back to the right level. Quite frankly, having an uninformed populace works extremely well, particularly when you have a media that doesn’t understand its responsibility and feels more like it’s an arm of a political party. They can really take advantage of an uninformed populace.
You can read the rest of this Daily Caller
. Reading about Dr. Ben Carson will encourage any parent to keep believing in their child’s potential!
Summer slide is the term used to describe the loss of skills many students experience during the time off from school. This article reports that a Duke University professor’s study found students may lose one to three months of learning.
Cooper’s study also showed that summer loss was greater in math than reading and had the biggest downward trend in math computation and spelling.
If your student is currently attending a Gideon Math and Reading center, you are already ahead of the game and keeping his or her brain sharp! We can make incredible gains in just a few minutes each day. If not currently enrolled, we consider summer a great time to address issues from the year before OR to get ahead as the stresses from the normal school year are eliminated. If you are off on vacation or looking for other ways to engage your children, check out our links below. (more…)
In this article on Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog, the author gives a great list of ways to improve your child’s academic performance. Here are a few.
1) Get Good Sleep
While this may seem like basic knowledge, many students today are doing more and more activities which leads to staying up later to do homework or to spend time online. Losing 1 hour can pull him back 2 grade levels while averaging 15 more minutes daily can make her more likely to get A’s.
Missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours for ages 5-12 and 8.5-9 hours for teenagers. Get into a good bedtime routine. Ensure quality sleep by keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet and free of screens (tv, computer, phone, etc). Read more about the importance of sleep here and bedtime routine tips here.
Another benefit of well rested students is feeling happier. Happier students also do better than those who are unhappy. Also happier kids come from happy parents so get your sleep too!
2) Engage in Active Learning
You can read basketball rules, tips, and strategies, but you won’t get better until you start actually playing. The Gideon program is only active learning with the student always working on his individualized program based on his previous performance. When the student needs to memorize +4 facts, he will practice them orally, write them over and over, and then be tested to do it within a certain time. All these things are actively engaging his brain as opposed to having him simply read them on the page.
Along this same thread is to have your student read WITH you instead of you just reading TO them. When reading a book together, point at the words as you read them, and later as they are able, have them read to you. Ask questions about what is happening in the story to ensure comprehension. Have her repeat any sentences she struggles with to aid with comprehension and confidence.
…when shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of children’s reading skills and strategies, then shared book reading is an effective vehicle for promoting the early literacy ability even of disadvantaged children.
3) Create Good Habits
From Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:
“Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success…Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.”
Create good habits for you children while you can. Decide which goals are important for your family and strive for them. Do not give up with things get hard. Teaching your children to persevere is a life lesson and will help them through adulthood. Being great at something usually does not come naturally. Mostly, these are well developed skills.
At Gideon, we stay on the needed topic until mastery is reached. We believe each student can reach the mastery standards given extra practice. Some students need more help in +4s but may need less in -4s. Each student is different, but we never give up and assume he cannot do it. He learns a lot about himself and hard work when he does reach that goal. He needs to see that extra effort does make a difference whether he believed it or not originally. This will aid him when he has challenges in his career and his personal life.
Listen to this TED talk about how grit was the determining factor for success in many different arenas.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree has another great post HERE about increasing self-control and willpower.
4) Believe in Your Children
We cannot agree more. If you believe your student is capable of more, you will push and ask for more. This, in turn, will create a better student as she also will believe she can do more. Don’t be in a hurry to move on. Wait and let your child prove to you she can do it. Children absorb what we tell them – good and bad. They really hear you when you say, ‘I KNOW you can do it.” And better yet, they believe you.
Read the other tips and rest of this article HERE.