Start School Later so Students can Sleep in

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Sleep and teenagers go together better than slicing and bread. Every teenager already knows that school starts early and it’s rather cruel to make them learn before they brains are ready to do so. Yet, former teenagers force teens out of bed and kick them out the door too early. Finally, schools are starting to learn that teenagers should sleep in and school should start later in the day.

Whenever schools have managed the transition to a later start time, students get more sleep, attendance goes up, grades improve and there is a significant reduction in car accidents. The RAND Corporation estimated that opening school doors after 8:30 a.m. would contribute at least $83 billion to the national economy within a decade through improved educational outcomes and reduced car crash rates. The Brookings Institution calculates that later school start times would lead to an average increase in lifetime earnings of $17,500.
Since 2014, several states have passed legislation related to school start times. In August, California lawmakers passed a bill that would have gone further. By 2021, most middle and high schools across the state would have had to start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Read more.

Kids Should Fail

A prevailing attitude in North American schools is that students shouldn’t be able to fail, but really what better place than a school to learn from mistakes? Thankfully people are noticing that letting kids not excel at something is actually a good thing. Interestingly, it’s in the world of games that parents and educators let students fail.

It would be great to see kids being encouraged to explore knowledge and new ways of learning beyond the environment of a modern classroom.

3. Progress must be transparent. Lee Peng Yee, one of the main thinkers behind the system of math instruction in Singapore, once told me: “If you think you can catch the bus, you will run for it.” It’s a great image, and good games keep players in a recurring cycle of running to catch one bus after another, all leading to reachable goals. Look for games that keep the next milestone in sight and constantly show progress toward it. Seeing yourself get better at something is incredibly motivating.

Read more here.

Thanks Mike!

Learn More by Studying Less

I’m back in Toronto now and discovered a bunch of people are starting their school year; so to celebrate their return to education I figured a post on studying is needed.

The ever helpful ZenHabits strikes again with a good overview of how to study and retain knowledge. They focus on a holistic approach to studying, which may or may not work for you. The key is to figure out what does work for you and role with it.

For example, the last thing they suggest happens to be a waste of my studying time but the same thing is essential for one of my friends:

Write – Take a piece of paper and write out the connections in the information. Reorganize the information into different patterns. The key here is the writing, not the final product. So don’t waste your time making a pretty picture. Scribble and use abbreviations to link the ideas together.

UN’s Declaration of Human Rights in 21 Languages

Oct. 24th is United Nations Day, and to celebrate LibriVox collected the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 21 Languages. You can download audio files of LibriVox volunteers reading the declaration at LibriVox.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. It defines the fundamental rights of individuals, and exhorts all governments to protect these rights. The UN has translated the document into over three hundred languages and dialects. This audiobook includes readings in 21 languages, by LibriVox volunteers.”

The United Nations wants people around the world to remember that we are all humans and that we should all get along. Today many schools will celebrate the diversity of human culture.

In Costa Rica, UN day is a holiday, awesome!

No More Homework?

If research is to be believed, your kids may start coming home with less homework.  For younger students, a few schools are reducing the number of repetitive exercises given, and replacing them with assignments designed to engage the mind. 

Years of research supports the idea that there is no link between grades and the amount of homework assigned.  In a study covering 50 countries, students with the highest grades (such as Japan and Denmark) did very little homework, compared to children with the lowest grades (such as Greece and Iran), who did lots of homework.  Due to various research reports, some teachers and parents now see no need to assign a lot of afterschool work in the early and middle grades

Harris Cooper, one of the leading researchers on homework in the United States, firmly believes in extra schoolwork.  “Kids at all grade levels are going to benefit from practice,” he states.  “…If it’s practice that gets you to Carnegie Hall, homework’s going to help.”

However, he acknowledges that too much does not mean better grades.  His rule of thumb: children shouldn’t do more than 10 minutes of homework for each grade.  For example, a Grade 2 student should have only 20 minutes of homework; a Grade 7 student, 1 hour and 10 minutes.

At Vernon Barford Junior High in Edmonton, teacher Judy Hoeksema now assigns half the work she did last year.  “We’ve all been under this illusion that lots of homework creates good study habits for the future,” the math teacher of 26 years says.  “Now, we’ve realized it isn’t making much difference.”

As a bonus for scaling back homework, many families are seeing  increased quality time for children and parents , less household stress, and less physical stress on their kids due to less books being carried.

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