Peg Tyre’s new book, The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve tells parents how to “look under the hood” of schools. Parents have choices these days, Tyre, an education journalist and mother, tells NPR. Parents should look for “a very well-thought out curriculum around reading, around math. . . . You want teachers who are experienced, and if not experienced then well-mentored during the school day so that they’re not learning to be teachers to the detriment of your child.” Children should “get downtime and free play as well as direct instruction.”
In an interview with The Browser, Tyre named five education books parents should read, in addition to her own.
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, a child development professor, explains the major role parents play in their children’s language and reading development.
Neurocognitive scientists have built a consensus. They know that the way we naturally learn to read is the way reading was taught in the 1950s – sounding words out, understanding the sounds that letters make and how to blend those sounds through phonics. Phonics allies closely with how our brains learn to read. If your child is not getting phonics, it’s a problem.
About a third of kids learn to read spontaneously, a third need some phonics instruction, and another third need systematic instruction. What third your kid falls in is not necessarily an indication of whether they’re smart or not. It’s just that some kids need a certain kind of instruction and unfortunately a lot of kids do not get it.
The Number Sense, by mathematician-turned-neuropsychologist Stanislas Dehaene, argues that math teaching “must be better aligned with the way we naturally absorb arithmetic.”
E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy explains why phonics isn’t enough: Students need general knowledge to understand what they read.
A student who sees the word Everglades may be able to divide up that compound word into ever and glades but if they don’t know about the swamps in Florida no amount of sounding out will enable them to understand its meaning. They could read the word, but they couldn’t comprehend it.Cultural literacy is critical to the health of our democracy. ED Hirsch reminds us that we shouldn’t let schools teach our children to be mere accountants of information. He reminds us it is as important to know Greek mythology as PowerPoint. Content continues to matter, a lot.
The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine warns about overparenting, “creating a generation of overpressured and overprivileged kids who don’t know how to thrive on their own.”