Today, many American children are falling further and further behind in their education each year due to cuts in school funding. With fewer factory jobs left in the United States, a good education has become essential to finding a high-paying job in today’s information and technology-driven economy. Tomorrow’s economy will be even more competitive and Americans will compete for jobs globally. All parents want their child to achieve the American Dream. However, schools do not determine, on their own, whether children have what they need to succeed. Parents are in the driver’s seat when it comes to how they spend their children’s time outside of the classroom. You can make a big difference in your children’s future by avoiding these common mistakes.

Allowing too much “screen time”

The average American child spends 28 hours a week watching television, which translates to 1,456 hours per year, and 24,752 hours by the time they turn 18 (assuming they start on their first birthday, which many do). 24,752 hours is approximately 2 years and 9 months of your childhood that you spent watching television Time in front of television is NOT time that is NOT spent on: reading, exercising, doing puzzles, drawing, playing with other children, doing homework and other activities that help the child learn and grow as a person. In the time most kids spend in front of the TV, they could have learned a second language or earned a black belt in karate!

Not making sure your child reads daily

In New York City, approximately 75 percent of public high school students who enroll in community colleges must take remedial courses in math or English before they can begin college-level work. At a minimum, this means that college students, or their parents, must pay for additional courses in addition to the usual costs of college tuition. According to the National Educational Association Today, the only way for children to become good readers is to practice. Even small amounts of reading each week add up over the years.

Neglect the arts

Many parents believe that art and music are “ornaments” and do not realize that the arts can have a significant impact on other areas of learning. In a UCLA study of Chicago-area schools, elementary students who attended schools where the arts were integrated into the classroom curriculum outperformed their math peers who were not in the program. More than 60 percent of these students, involved with the Chicago Education Arts Association, performed at or above grade level on the math section of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills compared to the 40 percent of their peers (who could be left behind each year). Any artistic activity, from painting, visiting local art museums, or taking music lessons, can have lasting benefits for developing the mind.

So how can parents provide better learning opportunities outside of the classroom?

Here are some suggestions that cost little or nothing in time or money:

Limit or eliminate TV Most parents don’t ditch TV completely, but setting clear limits on viewing time, such as not watching TV on school nights, will force kids to find other activities to have fun (or finish their homework). . Some parents worry that as soon as they turn off the television, their children will complain of being bored, but boredom is often a motivating factor for the child to have fun in a productive way: looking for a new hobby, playing a game. board game. with his siblings or participating in sports.

Go to the library at least once a month. Almost every household in the US has access to a nearby public library, and many have an interlibrary loan system to provide access to books that their library does not stock. Many have a children’s librarian who can recommend good books and help find them on the shelves. Parents pay taxes for these services, why not use them?

Start your child with an art project. It can be as simple as placing crayons and paper on the kitchen table and asking them to draw pictures, asking them to make a homemade birthday card, or decorating cookies with colored frosting and candy. There are children’s project books at your local library and many free online sites to give parents and children ideas for activities. Even looking at different types of painting exposes a child to different arts and broadens their horizons.

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