On the SmartBrief blog, prolific education blogger and author Fred Ende has graciously presented three predictions related to education in New York for the coming year. While we can only anticipate so much in this fast-paced field, our experience at FasTracKids gives us every reason to believe that Mr. Ende is on to something. What follows is an exploration of, and extrapolation on, these three very poignant predictions.
Putting the A in STEAM
Students, parents, and educators have been focusing on the more technical aspects of STEM for years now. The recent introduction of new standards at both state and national levels, however, promises to cement that “A” and tear away its parenthetical status. We agree with Mr. Ende’s projection that you’ll see school districts finding new ways to connect students with opportunities in Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Art, after all, is the perfect connector across subject areas. While this momentum is exciting for all involved, full integration of all five STEAM fields in the classroom for all students will take some time. As Ende admits, districts are “slowly designing support structures to help educators see potential avenues for merging” new content with existing schedules. While leadership is still imparting essential knowledge to teachers, there’s understandably a shortage of well-rounded STEAM experiences available to current students. This discrepancy highlights the importance of supplemental educational resources.
If your child is in Pre-K or grade school now, you don’t have to wait years for educators to catch up. Nor do you have to rely on your district to set the upper limits on your child’s opportunities. By leveraging supplemental education like that provided by FasTracKids, you can ensure comprehensive STEAM-based enrichment every step of the way.
Maximizing Learning Approaches
Face-to-face and Virtual methods of learning each have their strengths and weaknesses. While the efficacy of in-person learning has been proven over decades, newer virtual opportunities give students access to an expansive range of resources and ideas. Ende speaks of the efforts made by educators to combine the best of both worlds to create better learning experiences. He expects that this “blended learning” approach will continue to evolve thanks to continued experimentation and improvement. As blended methods for imparting knowledge become more widely available, parents should monitor their children’s progress with an awareness of the new methods at play. For students who struggle with long-distance or virtual teaching, tutoring can provide an on-ramp or accelerator that expands access to these new, robust blended learning experiences.
Cultivating Classroom Connections
In his predictions, Fred Ende emphasizes the importance of collegial circle groups to the continued professional growth of educators. If, as he posits, “the more connected we are, the greater the potential for growth,” then the lesson is surely as meaningful for young learners as for the teachers charged with leading them. One of the most under-appreciated benefits of supplemental education is the social learning it imparts. As Ende puts it, “the need for us to connect in an already interconnected world shows the power of forming true bonds.”
Highly engaging, shared in-person learning experiences can balance out the impact of kids’ inevitable screen time. When children work together to generate ideas and solve problems, they build strength in multiple areas, including interpersonal skills. To that end, independent testing by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) demonstrates that a significant number of three-to six-year-old children enrolled in FasTracKids® improved their social skills at a rate 100% to 150% times faster than their peers not enrolled in the program. If you’re feeling as though your child is missing out on the benefits of genuine connection, rest assured that there’s no shortage of opportunities for him or her to branch out beyond the classroom.
A Bright Road Ahead
While these are just predictions, the likelihood that they will be realized in 2018 or soon after bodes well for the children of New York. Lessons from the past combined with the technology of the future have to potential to light our way back to educational excellence in both our country and the world. From everyone here at FasTracKids NY, we wish you and your family a safe and enriching new year. Contact us to discuss your child’s educational path!