11/12/2019 1 Comment
The Magic Years
A note to all my elementary Parents:
I just returned from a weekend visit in Kansas City with my girls who are at KU & Mizzou (I know...I know... that’s crazy, but any of you who have more than one child understand how different siblings can be). Anyway, I was reflecting on their educational journey, and I wanted to share a few insights about these magical years and let you know how blessed we are here at TIS to be part of your children's educational journey.
Children are literally little sponges, soaking up the world around them at a phenomenal rate. Science has shown that a child’s brain during the elementary years is growing, connecting and learning more actively than any other time in their lives. Our challenge, in education, is to maximize this critical time period.
How do we best help our children learn? This is the million dollar question for educators. In today’s world, there appears to be a million possible answers. Here at Independent, we believe in engagement to spark the love of learning. This year our teachers have taken on a new and challenging curriculum in the Lower School. I wish you all could hear our veteran teachers’ conversations about how much they love teaching the National Geographic curriculum. They describe how excited and engaged the students are in the topics. The integration of Social Studies, and Science into the English/Language Arts areas of Reading, Spelling and Writing have students working at a deeper level of critical thinking. In fact, I wanted to share with you some highlights from our Star Reading & Math results. These tests not only help us know exactly where your student is, but also how we are doing as a group as compared on a National level.
Highlights as of the end of October 2019:
#1) Grades 1-5 median percentile is 82% in Star Reading (this means our students are
performing at a rate higher than 82% of the rest of the students who have taken Star Reading nationally).
#2) Grades 1-5 median percentile is 86% in Star Math (this means, as a group, our
students are performing at a rate higher than 86% of the rest of the students who have
taken Star Math Nationally).
#3) Most grades (1-5) are reading at least one full grade equivalent above and some up
to two grades (this means they are reading at a level typical of those at least one to two grades above them).
#4) 3rd grade’s median is 4.5 grade equivalent in Math (this means as a group, our 3rd
grade is performing at a level typical of other mid year 4th graders are performing nationally on this same test).
#5) 4th grade’s median is over a 6.4 grade equivalent in Math (this means as a group, our
4th grade is performing at a median level typical of other mid year 6th graders are performing Nationally on this test).
#6) 5th grade’s median is over an 8.1 grade equivalent in Math (this means as a group our
5th grade is performing at a median level typical of 8th graders on this test).
Obviously, we believe in academic rigor, but also in surrounding students with a safe, loving and nurturing environment. Last week I was visiting a new teacher’s classroom when one of our students who has been diagnosed with Dyslexia and struggles in reading, boldly raised her hand in class and read a paragraph out loud. This small gesture spoke volumes regarding the safe and comfortable classroom environment this teacher has created. Your students are in loving and capable hands. Our teachers humble me daily with their passion, talent, and professionalism.
We also believe in the power of play. Research shows how important play is in our busy society. Screen-time is not equal to play time. Our children must have non-structured times where they dream, role-play, and interact socially with others. It is critical for their development! They learn to get along with others, take turns, deal with disappointment, and how to persevere. Our job as parents and educators is to give them the time and space to let the magic happen. As many of you may know, we only have one scheduled recess for each grade, but every teacher is encouraged to take students outside for extra recess as often as needed. Sometimes, those tricky teachers may carry out a bucket of chalk, manipulatives, or even shaving cream to the playground. The students believe they are just playing, but in reality, they have embarked on a multi-sensory S.T.E.M or S.T.E.A.M self-directed lesson - (pure magic!)
If I had one wish to share with parents of our younger children, it would be the wish for you to play. Lay on the floor with them. Put away the phones, ipads, or television for a while. Engage in their role playing. Create. Play time is never wasted - it is a critical part of their development. When you are visiting them in college in a few short years, those are the times that will be fondly remembered.
Thank you for doing life with us here at Independent. We are honored to be a part of this magical time in your child’s development! If you ever have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call or stop by the office.
Alyssa Boyer wife, mother, therapist, and educator grew up in Los Angeles, now living in Wichita, KS.