What are you going to be when you grow up? This question is asked of our children and teenagers. While there are a few people that know early on what they want to be, most of us feel desperate to figure it. Many adults are still trying to answer this question themselves.
I pose that this question, rather the subconscious intent behind the question is a problem. Why, you ask. This question merely is asking about the end goal. The end goal is not what we should be focused on.
In Education, grade school all the way to college, the focus is put on the destination rather than the more important process of learning. Our focus as parents is on finishing high school/college and getting good grades. It is not on learning. Our hyper focus on the end goal of graduating is pushing many to doing whatever it takes.Check out the statistics on cheating in high school and colleges. These numbers are probably low compared to actual cheating. https://oedb.org/ilibrarian/8-astonishing-stats-on-academic-cheating/
Unfortunately, this is not going to end anytime soon. Our school are putting more and more pressure on students to get good grades. This is starting to be seen in middle and elementary schools as well. Students are realizing that their grades in elementary and middle school are determining their classes and placement in the hierarchy of schooling. If you don't make good grades, you can't be in the better classes. For example, I just spoke to a 9th grader about courses. She is waiting until her senior year(after class ranks) to take basic electives so the classes will not count against her class ranking. These electives include classes like speech. I would suspect that most of us believe Speech is a pretty important skill that students need. Why would she do this? Speech is a class that doesn't offer advance/AP credit so the you can't get a high enough GPA to help with ranking. This is the Education today. It's not about what skills or knowledge a student possesses, it about the grades.
So, back to the question posed at the beginning of this article. What do you want to be when you grow up?
The focus should be on self awareness and skills that will help that person become successful. What are these skills? As we pointed out before, one of them is Public Speaking. What other subjects do you think we should be teaching our students rather than focusing on grades?
It is up to us to break this cycle.
There’s no doubt that a solid base in literature, advanced math, the scientific process, and a thorough understanding of history are important to your child’s education. But educators and employers alike are increasingly emphasizing the importance of teaching children crucial “soft skills” before they reach graduation.
The term “soft skills” refers to things like problem solving, self-motivation, leadership, and communication. Skills like emotional control, socialization, and finding and maintaining a sense of purpose also fall under this category. These attributes help people interact effectively and harmoniously with others. Hard skills are more concrete and can be measured. Reading, writing, math, and job-specific skills fall into this category. For many years, educators did not consider teaching soft skills, but as employers continue to look for workers with these soft skills, it has become more important for schools to consider teaching them.
The best schools offer ways for students to develop soft skills along with their academics. Students who have developed their soft skills in secondary school are much more likely to be successful in college and the workplace. A school may include soft skills training in its teaching methods by encouraging self-motivation, goal setting, and planning.
A teaching method that emphasizes group work can go a long way to helping students develop socially, and hone important soft skills. Working in groups and teams teaches students communication, leadership, and how to collaborate. Group work is critical to learning problem-solving, and can teach a student to solve more complex problems than they could on their own.
When placing your child in a school that emphasizes soft skills alongside academic success, you can rest assured that your child will graduate with skills in goal setting, self-motivation, social skills, professionalism, responsibility, flexibility, and teamwork.
These skills are incredibly important for students pursuing higher learning after high school. College can be a very challenging academic environment, and being able to focus, plan, and motivate oneself is crucial to student success. In college, students will need to be able to work independently in a rigorous academic environment, often with very little guidance. And when starting their career, students will find that being able to communicate and lead effectively will give them a major leg up over other job candidates.
In order to set your child up for success, it’s important to consider a secondary education that will teach them these necessary soft skills. If you’d like to learn more about how Gateway America incorporates these skills into our academic program, contact us today at GatewayAmerica@mac.com.
As you research different education options for your child, you are looking for a unique approach that will give your son or daughter the best chance of success after graduation. The “whole student” approach is a growing movement in education, and can be an effective method for helping students become their best selves. The "whole student," or "whole child," approach incorporates the student’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This teaching method provides education with both rigorous academics and personal development. Schools using this method provide programs and settings that ensure students are safe, healthy, supported, challenged, and engaged throughout their schooling.
There is a lot of value in offering students a safe environment to express themselves and explore their interests. This allows and encourages students to flourish and recognize their best abilities. In a more traditional learning environment, students often do not even consider engaging in self-exploration. In a “whole student” environment, students can exercise their curiosity, and develop a passion for lifelong learning.
The “whole student” model helps young people understand themselves, and develop a sense of purpose in their schoolwork and activities. Being able to actively participate in their own learning benefits students by helping them develop self-confidence and a sense of purpose.
Traditional methods of teaching emphasize academic success. The “whole student” approach incorporates academics, as well as methods and environments for promoting a student’s intellectual and emotional well-being. The value of this approach is that it enables students to leave school with greater personal development, setting them up for success not just in college, but also in the workplace, and life in general.
Understanding a school's philosophy of “whole student” education is an important step in choosing the best school for your child. If you want your child to have a top-notch education and benefit from the physical, emotional and spiritual growth of a “whole student” program, contact us today at GatewayAmerica@mac.com to learn more about enrolling at Gateway America.
As parents, we all want a quality education for our children, that gives them a thorough understanding of core subjects and an appreciation for learning. Unfortunately, with the increased emphasis on standardized testing in public schools, the focus of education has become merely to ensure that students pass a test. In order to provide your child with the best secondary education, you need to look beyond the basic high school curriculum. Standardized testing serves a purpose, but is it the best method for educating our children and helping them grow into confident, capable adults?
The traditional public school curriculum has been mandated and tested by the state, and often is designed solely to make sure students pass standardized tests. This differs greatly from the private school approach, which tailors the curriculum to each student. The value in treating each child as an individual is that it allows them to explore their interests, and work at their own pace, while keeping them challenged and engaged. When students can explore deeper learning that goes beyond testing requirements, it keeps them interested in their education.
These deeper learning opportunities include field trips, group work, and team building experiences. Many bright students can work at an accelerated pace when they are not stuck in a large classroom with a one-size-fits-all approach. These students will benefit from moving on to college coursework when they are ready, keeping them challenged, and giving them a competitive edge in college admissions.
Giving a child ownership over their own education will help them develop skills such as goal setting, self-motivation, and self-management. Conversely, public schools develop course plans for the masses, and students often do not have the opportunity to push themselves or work at an accelerated pace. There is very little room, or opportunity, for adapting teaching to an individual student’s needs.
When looking at options outside of the traditional public school format, take a close look at schools with an innovative curriculum or specialization that matches your child’s needs. Does a school offer students the opportunity to work at an accelerated pace, or does it lump all students into the same learning styles? A school that specializes in specific topics, such as STEM or a “whole student” teaching method, can offer your child a very different experience than a public school. These types of programs better meet their unique interests and needs while ensuring they receive a high-quality education designed to get them where they want to go after school.
While public schools have many benefits, they are often prevented by bureaucracy and mandated testing from offering a customized education to individual students. If you are looking for an alternative that allows your child to celebrate their love of learning, I encourage you to contact us today at GatewayAmerica@mac.com to learn more about enrolling your child at Gateway America.
The college application process has always been competitive, but with more students seeking higher education, the competition is stiffer than ever. However, the following five strategies can help prospective college students ensure that their applications make their way to the top of the heap – and secure that coveted admission letter.
Write a Unique Essay
Students needn’t be great writers to craft outstanding college admission essays. Essays should be grammatically correct and spelled correctly, of course, but it isn’t necessary to create great literature. The best essays emphasize unique aspects about the student, such as unusual hobbies or a deep commitment to a particular cause.
Boost Your Online Presence
Students should clean up any inappropriate content before beginning the application process. Barring that, they should adjust their privacy settings to keep as much of their profiles locked down as possible. However, college admissions officers absolutely consider prospective students’ online presence when making their decisions. Therefore, positive online content can significantly enhance students’ chances of admission.
Take an Active Role in the Admissions Process
Prospective students, not mom and dad, should serve as the driving force for the application process. College admissions officers understand that parents are often enthusiastic about their children’s’ college choices, and won’t hold that against applicants. However, it reflects poorly if the only communications come from a student’s parents rather than directly from the student. Likewise, so-called “ghost” applications – applications that only include bare bones details are often relegated to the circular file.
Submit Supplemental Materials
Submitting video files, newspaper clippings, photographs of artwork – it’s all legitimate as a supplement to a college application. Supplemental materials should directly relate to the program to which prospective students are applying, and should reflect the student’s best work. However, students should check with college admissions offices before submitting supplemental materials. Many colleges welcome them, but some discard materials other than college applications unread. In the latter instance, submitting supplemental materials is nothing more than a waste of an applicant’s time.
Consider Early Admission
Students who are convinced that they want to attend a particular school should consider early admission. Many schools fill a significant portion of their incoming classes through the early admission process, leaving fewer slots for regular admission students. However, early admission slots are often awarded to students with the strongest portfolios – early admission is not a realistic prospect for marginal applicants.
When evaluating different education options for your child, don’t forget to consult the experts! The Internet, and many leading news sources, are excellent resources for information covering different learning methods, and how they can impact your child’s success after high school. Here are three great articles for further reading that offer expert opinions on topics such as soft skills, employability, and the innovative “whole student” approach to education:
On the importance of soft skills: “Why Soft Skills Matter And The Top 3 You Need” via Forbes.com. This is a great read for understanding how developing soft skills can give your child a competitive edge throughout the rest of their life. The article takes a close look at how soft skills benefit workers and companies in the modern marketplace, and includes information on the topic from academic studies and major firms. Here, “purpose” is among the top three skills considered necessary for success. The author writes that “Feeling connected to a mission beyond ourselves and our own self-interest works as a wellspring to carry leaders and their teams through tough times, which invariably happen at work.”
On the value of the "whole child" approach: “Whole Child Development Is Undervalued” via Edutopia.org and George Lucas Educational Foundation, This article explores the innovative ways to improve K-12 education, and posits that child development should inspire lifelong learning across different spaces and communities. The author describes in detail the many benefits of the whole child approach, and how this method benefits not just the child, but also their family, community, and our society as a whole. After all, whole children turn into whole adults who contribute a great deal to their families, employers, and communities throughout life.
On the skills that employers are looking for: “Lack of workers with ‘soft skills’ demands a shift in teaching” via TheConversation.com. This article discusses how problem solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, and collaboration are important skills to have across all industries. The article emphasizes the importance of incorporating these skills into an educational environment, so they are developed early on, and practiced alongside mastery of academic topics. The author incorporates some fascinating facts. For instance, miscommunication costs businesses with up to 100 staff an average of US$420,000 per year.
Each of these expert articles can provide you with insight into the importance of an innovative approach to education that focuses on the whole child and incorporates the learning of critical soft skills. To learn more about the philosophy of education at Gateway America, contact us today at GatewayAmerica@mac.com. We’d love to talk with you.
As you consider different school options for your child, a good way to start is by deciding whether home school, private school, or public school is the best choice for your family. This email offers an overview of these schooling options, along with some of the pros and cons of each.
Different education options can yield very different results depending on your child’s needs and interests. Home school, private school, and public school also come with vastly different price tags and levels of commitment from parents. You can start by asking yourself, What type of environment will be the best for my child? Are they bored in a traditional school setting? Would they thrive with a more individualized education? Do they enjoy being able to interact with their group of friends every day? It is important to understand the differences, and how they may affect your child.
Compare & Contrast: Approach to Learning
Home schooling offers parents the most control over the curriculum and the way in which topics are covered. Parents can also set their child’s schedule for the day, including the amount of homework. This can be a good option for students who need a flexible schedule to pursue activities, such as serious dance study or elite athletics. Since schooling takes place in the home, it requires students to pursue other avenues for social interaction. Private schools are often academically rigorous and offer small classes. This allows for a customized education, where students can learn at their own pace. Often, there is less bureaucracy, which means the teaching style can be more focused on individual student success. Public schools can also offer an academically rigorous environment, though advanced students will require schools that offer Advanced Placement courses. The approach to learning in public schools appeals to students who desire a range of extracurricular and social activities.
Compare & Contrast: Parent’s Workload
Home schooling is the largest commitment for parents, for obvious reasons. Parents will spend time developing a curriculum, planning lessons, teaching, monitoring progress, and grading lessons. Parents must also provide transportation to and from any off-site activities related to academics or extracurricular interests. Public schools provide all instruction and transportation to and from school, which makes this the lowest time investment for parents. But parents may need to monitor student homework and progress, depending on their student’s abilities and motivation. At a private school, the school will provide instruction, curriculum, and many supplies. Parents must provide transportation to and from school and any extracurricular activities. Some private schools emphasize student responsibility and de-emphasize homework, which relieves parents from needing to monitor their child’s academic activity at home.
Compare & Contrast: Financial Obligations
Public school is free for all students, although choice is often limited based on where the family lives. The costs for a family choosing to home school are not insignificant. The cost of a curriculum, textbooks, and extracurricular activities can add up. Because the parent is the teacher, they should consider loss of income if they would otherwise be pursuing paid work. Between tuition, transportation, and uniforms (in some cases), private schools tend to be the most expensive option. Many schools do offer financial aid, so it’s a good idea to look at this option before ruling out a private education.
Compare & Contrast: Social Life and Diversity
Public schools tend to offer the most diversity, depending on where they are located and what populations they serve. Traditionally, public schools, and large private schools, offer the most opportunities for sports, arts, and formal community involvement. In a smaller private school, students may interact with a less diverse population, depending on the school’s demographics. Home school, by nature, will likely not offer the student a diverse environment, but students can seek that out through other activities. Today, students attending small schools, as well as home school students, have more opportunities to take part in art, music, and sports not related to school. Volunteering is an excellent way for these students to engage with the community and interact with more diverse groups. Private and home school programs that de-emphasize homework may actually improve students’ ability to participate in the community and other activities.
How these different environments will affect student development and engagement depends entirely upon the student. Some students are passionate about participating in sports, and will be motivated to excel in school if they must meet academic eligibility to participate. Other students are not interested in these activities, and would prefer to work at their own pace in a more independent learning environment. Some students are a mix of the two, and will benefit from a smaller classroom setting, while also seeking out opportunities for activities and diversity outside of school.
Clearly, there are many considerations, for both the family and the student, when exploring public, private, and home schooling options. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand which option is the best for you and your child. If you are leaning towards a private school option, find out about enrolling your child at Gateway today by contacting us at GatewayAmerica@mac.com.
In the words of Stephen Covey, ‘Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.’
These words are very powerful. It is one of the major things that separates us from animals. We, as humans, have the freedom to choose. We have the ability, actually the obligation to choose, not react to stimuli instinctively.
I hear all the time from students, parents, friends and family that they ‘have’ to do something. This is incorrect. They chose to do it. For instance, just today, a student handed in a project and she said that she had to stay up until midnight to finish the project. She then changed what she meant by saying that she chose to stay up to finish it. She had plenty of options.
This student’s options were to work on the project beforehand knowing when it was due instead of waiting until the last evening. Another option was just to not do it. Obviously she would’ve had the negative consequences of failing the project, but it still was an option. There are probably several other options as well, but let’s move on.
Why is it so important to know that we have the power to choose rather having to do things. Well it’s quite simple. It lets us realize that we are in charge of our lives. We are not reacting to life but making the decision to live everyday. It also gives us the power to say ‘no’. Many of us have a difficult time saying ‘no’. This is because we don’t feel we have the choice. What if the other person gets upset? If you can articulate why through an thoughtful reasoning then no one should be upset with that.
Knowing that you have the freedom to choose your life and decisions will open up many opportunities that otherwise you may have missed. You always have the freedom to choose.
Recently, upon reviewing several charts and graphs put out by the U.S. Department of Education through their Institution of Education Services, I was quite troubled as to what I saw. The specific numbers vary from subject to subject, and chart to chart, but our country has seen a steady decline in academic scores as compared to other countries. This fact, considered in light of the constant flood of news related to limited school funding, poor public school performance, etc. should not surprise us, but it should call us to action. We can no longer sit back and wonder what became of the schools that we knew when we grew up, the educational standards that served us well, or the scholars that were seated next to us on the bus. No, we must look at the bigger issues at hand. One of those, the difference between learning and reading is a critical starting point for our future generations.
Learning is not the same as reading. We know this because we can sit in a meeting, looking over reports, and find ourselves rereading the data a second or third time through before it sinks in. We can read an interesting web article and not be able to describe it to a friend several hours later. That is because we are just going through the process of reading, using this skills, but we very regularly fail to engage with the material. We do not learn it, we only read it. This problem is rampant in our educational system as students and teachers push to move through designated amounts of material in limited time periods, all the while leaving their brains “disengaged.”
Clearly this impacts our productivity, our understanding, and our ability to apply what we have read to our daily work, or our learning process. On the other hand, true learning impacts application. It must. That is the end result of wisdom – changed behavior, changed application. Imagine if students across this country, whether in public, private, or home school situations, were able to master the material that they read because they learn how to use their brain and therefore, learn, more efficiently. Mastery is not a daunting task when we allow our God-given brains to do their job! When seen as a tool and not just a container for random information, our brain can do some truly amazing things.
Sadly, though, this is not something that is readily taught in our school system and we are seeing the effects in the national statistics. Students of all ages must learn to be involved with the content of their studies, to understand its significance, to connect to what they are reading and learning, but with a purpose. By doing this and not just going through the motions, students can avoid wasting their valuable time on reading, and apply that time to effective and meaningful learning. If we rethink our methods, this change could impact future generations and all would benefit, but it must start with using our brains more efficiently during the learning process. With our brains as an active partner in our education, we can become educated, not just well-read, which while often having the connotation of “educated,” can often mean something less than that.
True learning can impact our understanding and application which will create more effective citizens for the future – this is what it means to be serious about education. Effecting change, understanding data, and impacting our culture for more than a semester is the natural by-product of brain-based learning! If all educators, no matter what their environment, were allowed to focus on learning, not a checklist of lessons, we would see a change in our future generations.
by Camille Rodriquez
In as little as five minutes a day you can change your world. According to Wayne Dyer “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This insight can lead you to a new tomorrow. Are you game? The process is fairly simple and the results are amazing.
But before we get started I want you to take a quick look around the room you are in and find all the things in the room that are blue. Make a mental note of these items. Now, close your eyes – no peeking and recall everything in the room that is red! Ah, no fair, you asked for blue items! That’s correct, so what happened to those blue items? They became brighter, bolder, and larger. Everything else in the room faded into the background including all the red items I asked you to name. The same principle applies to gratitude, when you are looking for things you are grateful for they become brighter, bolder, and larger in your experience.
My students kept a gratitude journal. At the end of school day they record five things they were grateful for that day in their gratitude journal. At first the entries were very general – my family, my dog, etc. But as time progressed they got much more specific in their journaling and wrote down particular things that had happened that day – they had developed an attitude of gratitude.
So what happened? Well they started to look for the good in their day – look for what they could write in their journal. Their gratitude antenna was up and searching for all the good in their lives and guess what, they found plenty. What an incredible gift to give a child. Give a child a gratitude journal, and watch the magic begin!
by Debbie Elder