Helping Kids See Their ‘Big Picture’

by Kenny Love

As a father of five daughters, as well as being an educator within my area’s school district, one of the most difficult experiences that I have found is getting kids to see their ‘Big Picture’. I reference the ‘Big Picture’, as it relates to one’s educational and economical futures and the positive steps that are vital to ensuring a comfortable existence.

Educational Outlook:

As an educator, I have found that the inability of many, if not most students to succeed in school, is often directly related to their getting a solid start during the earliest of their formative years at home prior to even attending pre- school.

Many parents, whether not wishing or having the time to commit to do so, or due to a lack of confidence, forego instructing their pre-school children in the very basics of skills, i.e., Math, English and Reading comprehension. These particular parents, otherwise, rely exclusively on the school system.

While on one hand, this is the purpose of schools, on the other hand, students should already be somewhat prepared and familiar with the basics of the aforementioned areas in an effort to already have lain educational groundwork.

What would first be even ideal is at some point, either our government, a private entity, or even communities should take the worthwhile challenge of creating proactive programs that instill in parents themselves, the importance of “educating” their children prior to their official schooling. This would, undoubtedly, set the proverbial stage for future learning as well.

However, in our own school district, and I venture to say many others, there is a significant learning disparity between students in many classrooms. Many instructors are, practically, required to teach on several different levels simultaneously within any given class. And, this can be extremely frustrating for both teacher and students.

For the teacher, this matter takes on a certain degree of stress in watching some students struggle with grasping the content and attempting to keep up with the rest of the class.
It is equally frustrating for both the student who has an easy grasp of the course work and must wait for other students to “catch up,” as well as frustrating for the struggling student.

And, it is also unfortunate that many districts find this problem so overwhelming that they choose to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to the matter and not address it instead of dealing with it head-on through reorganization and restructuring.

And, while it may be too late to reach some students in latter grades or who have already graduated, in order to ensure that our future adults and citizens are productive as a result of having gotten the ‘Big Picture’, a grassroots movement should be immediately implemented per the following steps.

1. Parents should recognize at their child’s earliest signs of comprehension, i.e., counting, speaking. This can be recognizable as early as one year of age but usually occurs at approximately two years of age.

2. Parents should then take a proactive role in ensuring that their child can count in basic mathematics, as well as start working with them on sounds and comprehension, and how they relate to the printed word. Having this basic groundwork instilled, when a child arrives in school, he or she has a good overall understanding and a much higher confidence level in being able to assimilate and compete with peers.

3. Not every student has an interest in attending a four-year university and becoming a chemist, engineer or architect. As a result, and while some schools are already doing so, more schools should consider organizing more internal programs that cater to a diversity of industries and interests, albeit, in a general introduction capacity. The general “blue collar” service industry is a great example that could be implemented with various subset programs.

Societal Economic Outlook:

Overall, the better students are educationally prepared “from the ground up,” so to speak, in their own vocational interests, interests and desires, the more productive and contributing citizens we will have in our society.

Additionally, we will experience the peripheral benefit of individuals who are extensively familiar within their chosen fields while also dramatically reducing the number of “field hoppers,” which is my own coined term of people who constantly change careers. Much of such, again in my opinion, reverts to a lack of a strong initial foundation and interest focus.