A Surprising Way to Give Your Child an Academic Edge
by Angie Birney
Tablets and other sophisticated items are popular gifts for children.1 Kids are sure to be delighted with such presents, and get hours of entertainment out of them. But there are downsides to introducing a tablet into a child's life.2 For one thing, he or she can get too absorbed in the device and miss opportunities to connect with other kids and with adults. We've all seen young children walking into stores with their heads down and eyes on the tablet. And although technology can build learning, when a child is constantly drawn to repetitive games, he or she is missing opportunities for real growth. Adults can select gifts for their children that are far more advantageous--and far less costly. Imagine if you could give your child an academic advantage for less than your data plan each month? What if you could boost your child's mental agility with as little as a one time payment of a measly $2.00? Would you do it?
Consider, for example, the lowly pack of cards. In contrast with a glowing device, the colorful, typically fifty-two item numbered pieces of cardboard can play a bigger role in your child’s development than you realize. First, cards foster community. While education writers extol the benefits of more technology,3 there is almost nothing children need more than community.4 A card game brings a small circle of children together–sometimes with the added connection of an adult to explain the procedures first. The game proceeds with the players in one another’s focus, not just the cards. Kids have to talk to one another, solve problems and disputes, show the littlest ones how to better hide their hand, and agree upon special rules.
When I was seven, my siblings and I had a simple set of Memory cards we had punched out of a magazine. We played the little animal match activity over and over. We played so many times, in fact, that the pieces got dog-eared and I quickly realized that one could make rapid matches with the overturned cards by recognizing a particular bent corner here or rumple there. It doesn’t sound like much, but my sister and I, who fought frequently, were brought together over this set. My toddler brother, too, who was three and learning his basics, probably participated. He would have picked up turn-taking, procedural conversations, and animal names from this game.
And then, someone gifted us with a pack of Uno cards. My family learned the simple rules together and played it during our quiet evenings, with popcorn. The game created peaceful conversations about taking turns and following the game’s rules. We took the cards outside one day and sitting in a circle with three of our friends, taught them to play. The numbers and colors were easy, but we also showed them what “Skip” and “Wild” were for, and when to say “Uno!” even though none of us were clear on what it meant. After that, we played many games of Uno with the neighbor kids, out there on our back patio.
Cards are also advantageous in that they spark children’s creativity. Once children get tired of one game, that deck speaks to them, challenges them to figure out new uses for those colors, numbers, and symbols. After many childhood rounds of Uno, my siblings and I took to thinking about that pile of cards. How there were number sets in them, several of the same number as well as sets going from zero to nine. First, Uno became giant matching game. We arranged the cards upside down in a large rectangle and got to work, taking turns trying to match sets of two. Next, we played Fish and stacked sets of four in front of our crossed legs, with a pleasingly large pile to “fish” from. My dad taught us "War," and we also made up our own satisfying number-sorting game.
Besides providing social connections and encouraging creativity, card games are an inexpensive source of academic enrichment. A contest with cards brings out all sorts of opportunities for children to focus on vocabulary, language, reading, listening, distinguishing and remembering details, numeracy, and more. Think back to the ordinary Memory set you had as a child. Participating in game play involved reading and comprehending the directions, articulating the rules to a younger child, using vocabulary involving everyday items, focusing on relevant details, and studying placement of identical cards by means of rows and columns. A mundane game like Uno encourages a small child to be conscious of colors and distinguish numbers. War and card-sorting enforce numeracy. As a child grows and adds increasingly complex games to his repertoire, he quite possibly gains an academic edge.
A deck of cards comes with many advantages, but it truly defeats the flashy competition when it comes to price. A card game is a cheap way to say “I love you.” However, add to that the gift of your time in teaching the game to the child, along with your purposeful selection of a superior present, and you’ve made an investment that is priceless.
Remember: Give a kid a tablet, and he’ll play a game . . . give him some cards, and he’ll invent three.
1 Faughnder, Ryan. “Tablets and Apps for Children Are on the Rise.” Latimes.com, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2014, articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/08/entertainment/la-et-ct-fuhu-tablets-kids-20140408.
2 Wanshel, Elyse. “10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give A Child A Smartphone Or Tablet.” Little Things, LittleThings Inc., www.littlethings.com/reasons-not-to-give-children-technology/.
3Otero, Anxo. “Gamifying Your World Language Classes.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 13 Oct. 2017, www.edutopia.org/article/gamifying-your-world-language-classes.
4“What Is Social and Emotional Development?” Early Childhood Mental Health, The Missouri Department of Mental Health, dmh.mo.gov/healthykids/parents/social-emotional-development.html.
Why spend money sending your child to a private "Christian" school when public and charter (also public) schools are free?
Part 1 of this series focused on higher academic achievement in private Christian schools when compared to public and charter schools.
However, the primary reason to choose cost-based Christian education is not solely academic but also ideological.
Adolf Hitler said it this way, “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the state.” This statement demonstrates the intrinsic effect that education has on the minds of our children. Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC commentator and professor of Political Science at Tulane University, says that your children belong to the community when she says, “We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.” She states that your children belong to the community at large. Although she may have altruistic intentions in her comments, the underlying ideology in her statement is growing in today’s society.
That ideology would say that there is no God and to educate with God as the central figure in all things, is to be closed-minded, perhaps even dangerous. However, the Bible never gave the government or “the community” the mandate to educate our children. Rather, God gave that responsibility to the family, your family.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 depicts how the family is central to the education of the children and God is the central figure in education. The child is to learn about God in all areas and all facets of life.
Since God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Rev. 4:11, Col. 1:17), then it makes sense that education is actually the pursuit of God through understanding His creation and how it works in order to fulfill the biblical mandate in Genesis 1:26-28. We refer to this as a “biblical worldview”. In other words, we believe that the goal of education is to instill a biblical perspective through which students see the world and everything in it. This includes themselves, their purpose, and their life’s goals. Tim Keller summarizes this concept:
Farming takes the physical material of soil and seed and produces food. Music takes the physics of sound and rearranges it into something beautiful and thrilling that brings meaning to life. When we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom and clean up a room, when we use technology to harness the forces of electricity, when we take an unformed, naive human mind and teach it a subject, when we teach a couple how to resolve their relational disputes, when we take simple materials and turn them into a poignant work of art we are continuing God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing . . . [and] we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.
(Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, New York: Dutton, 2012, p. 59).
Neil Postman, in his book, The End of Education, writes that, “behind every educational effort is the pursuit of a god, or gods.”
The problem is that Government funded education, including both public and charter schools, exists as a secular institution with a secular ideology and worldview. This worldview is built on Atheism, or the belief that God does not exist. Therefore, to explain the world around us one must look inside one’s self to arrive at any feasible conclusion. The theory that public education relies on to frame its worldview is the theory of evolution. This theory forms the foundation of thinking and learning in all public education curriculum.
These worldviews exist in stark opposition to one another. In their book, Children at Risk, James Dobson and Gary Bauer state it this way, “A great civil war of values rages today...two sides with vastly differing and incompatible worldviews are locked in a bitter conflict thet permeates every level of society...A struggle now is for the hearts and minds...the war is not fought with bombs and bullets, but with ideas.”
Choosing a Christian school is an ideological decision. In doing so, a family is saying that they reject the secular worldview of public education and rather choose an education for their children which places the pursuit of God as its central tenet.
This does not mean that education at Ocean View Christian Academy takes place in a bubble. Rather, through the instructional program, ideas are presented and analyzed to shape an apologetic biblical worldview. In all classes, students are encouraged to think, reason, analyze, and draw conclusions in an environment that promotes Truth.
Ocean View Christian Academy exists to come alongside of families who desire to educate their children with a biblical perspective.
To schedule a tour of our campus, feel free to contact us at 619-424.7875.
Why spend money sending your child to a private "Christian" school when public and charter (also public) schools are free? Part 1
This is a big question surrounding many of today's families. In a cultural climate where academic competition and moral decay are both on the rise at alarming rates, what value does the financial sacrifice hold for a private Christian education? Fortunately, valuable research can shed a little light on this question and helps to identify the priorities of families considering cost-based education for their children.
A common factor, shared by practically all parents, is the priority of a better learning environment. According to research conducted by The Friedman Foundation, parents’ primary focus in selecting a school for their children include a “better education”, “smaller class sizes”, and “more individual attention” (CAPE, 2013, v. 390). Additionally, Fordham Institute research found that parents of Christian schooled children share the same top four concerns held by parents of public school children. Those concerns are 1) "good study habits and self-discipline," 2) developing "strong critical thinking" skills, 3) learning "strong verbal and written communication skills," and 4) a "strong core curriculum in reading and mathematics" (CSE, 2013, p. 34). These four concerns are the foundational priorities in terms of what parents expect in a solid, well-rounded, and effective academic program.
There are no differences in expectations in regard to academic performance for "Christian" schools than any other school. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, Christian schools outperform their public counterparts. William Jeynes, professor of education at California State University at Long Beach and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton, found that “found that religious, mostly Christian, school students were a full year ahead of students who attend public and charter schools”, citing little difference in achievement between the latter two. Jeynes utilized grade point averages and standardized test scores to compare achievement across schools. He also extended his research into WHY students are performing better in Christian schools.
Jeynes accredits a number of factors for WHY students in Christian schools outperform students in public and charter schools, on average. For one, he attributes higher expectations for holding students to a higher capacity for achievement, with a college-going mindset as the status-quo. Although “achievement gaps” exist in all schools, Jeynes discovered a lower occurrence of “achievement gaps” in Christian schools, particularly among lower socioeconomic level students. One difference he cited, which may contribute to the differences between Christian and public/charter schools is that in Christian schools teachers are seen “as the one who imparts truth, whereas public schools are more likely to view the teacher as facilitator.” "I'm in favor of classroom flexibility ... [but] classroom flexibility is associated with somewhat lower academic achievement,” Jaynes said. Additionally, he cited similar benefits to achievement that both the Friedman and Fordham research found, smaller class sizes and increased attention to student needs.
This is not the only area in which Jeynes discovered differences that likely contribute to higher achievement in Christian schools. “School culture”, or what Jaynes refers to as “social capital” are certainly influencing achievement. He concluded that racial harmony, respect for others, and better behavior are all contributing factors to achievement. Jeynes relates a connection between the overall “school culture” and biblical Truth.
So WHY PAY for a private Christian education?
The evidence is real at Ocean View Christian Academy. At OVCA your child will benefit through more hands on attention from teachers and staff. Your child will experience an environment where learning is guided by biblical Truth as the central source for all knowledge and understanding. Your child will enjoy a school culture in which every person is valued and encouraged to respect others out of a love for God and His creation.
To schedule a tour of our campus, feel free to contact us at 619-424.7875.