Monday, January 31, 2011

You Must Help Your Kids With Their Science Homework

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Last week, the National Association of Educational Science (NAES) released the test results for many of our nation's children showing a distinct weakness in the sciences.  For example of 300 possible points, the average score was between 147-153.  If graded in the traditional way, this would be an "F."

You can see the report here:

The United States Department of Education response is here and certainly does not make me feel more secure.

This low score evidences a few things: 1)  School instruction is not enough to advance in science, 2)  Parents need to step up and help their kids with their science homework, and 3)  Parents need to stimulate an interest in science outside the classroom via home science projects in which the child is interested.

Schools are like high speed trains which just keep going regardless of whether the passengers are hanging off the edges or falling off.  They do not stop.  So, if a student misses even one concept, e.g. in math or science, but the class has moved on, that student may never understand that concept and/or other items connected to it.  With science that can be a killer.

One area where parents could help is to follow up on items missed on science tests or homework.  If a student misses anything, parents must follow up and work with their child until they understand the item once and for all.  The schools don't take adequate time to ensure that the concepts missed are understood and parents have to fill in the gaps.  Parents can help merely by noticing what the kid got wrong (not just chastising them for a low grade) and helping them understand.

Another area where a parent can help is ensuring a child fully understands what they are reading- and I mean specifically the WORDS.  Does the student REALLY know what that science word means?  Really?  Do they actually know what a microbe looks like, what it does, where the word "microbe" came from?

Parent help with homework and in completing science projects in which a child is interested (even if not assigned as homework) would help not just the individual student, but the country as well (it would probably raise our NAES score/grade from at least an "F" to a "D" or maybe even an "A").  The schools are not the only ones responsible for advancing kids.  We, as parents, are as well.


Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
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