common core

What You Need to Know About the New Common Core Standards

Educational reform is taking over the school system.  The new Common Core State Standards represent a change in how children are expected to learn reading, literacy skills, and math.  As early as kindergarten, children are now being taught to ask and answer questions about important details in a book, with teacher support.   Following kindergarten, children are expected to do it themselves.  Greater emphasis is now given to listening and reading informational books, as well as comparing and contrasting books on the same topic.  A teacher’s job will be to help them learn through these more challenging texts, by introducing the headings, subheadings, and the use of the glossary to figure out the meanings of unfamiliar words that are present.  Children will be engaged in partner or whole group conversations about books that are either read aloud to them or that they read themselves.   In addition, they will learn how to build arguments by using the text evidence.

The new Standards encourage children to understand and infer information not only from printed materials, but also from multi-media.  These goals are to help children succeed in the future and in the complex world in which they live.  Students will be expected to understand content-related vocabulary in both science and social studies.  Vocabulary gains will be made when children are exposed to learning new words through both explicit (given child-friendly word definitions and also acting them out), and implicit (learning word meanings by listening to a story or text) instruction.

In a well constructed curriculum, learning in the upper grades builds on prior knowledge in the lower grades.  Students exposed early on to  reading, science, history, and math have been found to develop a greater interest in them, which “leads to greater learning”.  Children need adults to help them understand the content.  A strong emphasis on reading and math in the early years of a child’s learning is vital.  Reading is the ability to identify the words on a page, which is called decoding, and the ability to understand the meaning of the words.  Fluent decoding requires children to be able to become familiar with letter-sound relationships and spelling patterns.  Comprehension depends on reading aloud to them and helping to grow their knowledge and vocabulary.  Engaging young children in enjoyable, exciting and fun math games by using concrete manipulatives to learn number comparisons, counting, as well as adding and subtracting could help prevent future math difficulties and reduce math anxiety when they are problem solving.

Great effective teachers always present information in meaningful ways that will appeal to students’ experience and imagination.  Early learning will develop students’ interest and intellectual curiosity, determining whether they will become lifelong learners.