June 25, 2013
Common Core 101
If you have a school-age child, you are probably hearing a lot about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) recently. You may be wondering what it is and how it will affect your child’s education. You may also want to know what you can do to help your child adapt and succeed under this new initiative. You’re not alone; as CCSS have been adopted by most states, parents and teachers alike have been scrambling to educate themselves. Luckily, there are resources to help you prepare. Flash Kids is here to help! Find the answers to your questions here:
The CCSS are a set of educational goals for teaching mathematics and English language arts. These standards, released in 2010, have been adopted by more than 40 states, with full implementation expected in most participating states by 2015. (Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Alaska, and Puerto Rico have not adopted the Common Core. Minnesota has only adopted the English language arts standards.)
Unlike previous standards, which were unique to every state, the CCSS provide a shared set of educational goals. They are a first step toward standardizing what is taught at every grade in all of the nation’s schools. The standards encourage states to work together on the development of textbooks, digital media, and other instructional materials. It also allows for states to share standardized tests.
Different types of reading materials will be used in schools. Learning to read informational texts, analyzing primary-source documents, and making sense of diagrams, charts, and technical terminology will be encouraged. Speaking and listening skills, as well as writing proficiency, will be fostered.
In Mathematics, the CCSS aim to provide kids with the ability to understand math concepts that prepare them for college and beyond. The same skills your child is learning now, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals, will continue to be taught. In middle school and high school, teachers will encourage kids to use their math skills to think critically and they will learn to apply these skills to real-life concepts.
The CCSS does not provide a curriculum. It is still up to individual states to decide what specifically will be taught in schools. But the goal is to ensure that schools across the country are preparing its children for the rigors of life beyond high school.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative has a very helpful FAQ section, found here:
The National Parent Teacher Organization developed a series of grade-specific brochures to help parents understand the new standards: http://pta.org/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2796
If you’re not already reading classic myths, fables, and folktales with your kids, now is the time to start. These are considered essential. Luckily, kids love these types of stories, and introducing them is an easy way to incorporate CCSS-aligned material at home. Older kids can be introduced to Shakespeare and America’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Encourage close-reading, questions, and discussion.
Especially important are books that provide shorter, challenging passages that children can read and re-read to ponder the meanings of words and the development of ideas. Flash Forward Reading provides high-interest reading passages to practice key skills and build reading comprehension.
Asking your child for help with real-world math problems will help them build their math skills. For younger kids, helping to bake cookies or prepare a meal provides an opportunity to practice fractions. Older kids could calculate the tip on a restaurant check, or even be given a lesson in balancing a checkbook. Flash Forward Math offers a great opportunity for kids to hone their essential math skills and create a solid foundation upon which to build.
How are you helping your kids prepare for the Common Core? We’d love to hear how others are gearing up. Share your thoughts in the comments!