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What Parents Need to Know About Education for the 21st Century

We have to enhance the education system in order to incorporate the skills needed to be able to excel in the dynamic future that lies ahead.

The age of information has come to an end. In the past International Conference of Thinking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the World acknowledged the beginning of a new era in the history of human development: the Age of Intelligence. We are living in exponential times. In this new era where technology connects the mind and ideas of an individual with the minds and ideas of millions around the world, society evolves at a sometimes frightening velocity. It is pivotal for every segment of modern society to keep up with the other. However, the educational system in the United States still educates under the parameters of an era that ended more than 50 years ago (the industrial age), where children are raised to be workers and not thinkers. If we want our children to be competitive, not only with the person next door, but with everyone else around the world, it is imperative that the U.S. make some serious revision in the education we are providing our children.

Important facts: (View the video: Did you know 3.0?)
  • The top ten in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
  • The amount of technical information is doubling every two years (half of what a student in a 4-year technical degree learns the first year will be outdated by his third year of study).
  • Digital information doubles every 11 hours.
  • The performance power of computers doubles every 18 months.
  • India has more honor students than America has students.

Preschools in Broward Leading the Way in Education and Thinking

Clearly you are pursuing early childhood education with a lot of energy and ingenuity -- very interesting to see. I'm struck by the variety of routines, the productivity of the children, the take-homes for parents, the art work, etc. It was very intersting to interact with the children. I'm glad we figured out how to make a visit happen.

David Perkins

Dr. David Perkins, senior professor of education at Harvard University and director of Project Zero, visited First Steps International Academy and VIP Kids Bilingual Preschool (two Edu1st.Schools) on Friday, May 15th.

Edu1st.Children

Visible Thinking is a research-based approach of Project Zero, from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. This educational approach, emphasizes the use of thinking routines and documentation to make thinking visible in classrooms and to engage students in deep thinking around the content while also cultivating the student’s disposition towards thinking. Actually, Visible Thinking includes a variety of fun and interesting classroom routines that are integrated with the curriculum content.

Education has always been a topic of conversation for parents. In fact, for many parents it becomes a quest to look for the best education for their children. A similar situation faced a company called Education First Inc, which not only had the vision to find the top models of education in the world, but was committed to bring and apply them in Broward. In 2006, the Edu1st.Schools decided to take the challenge and fully implement the Visible Thinking methodology to teach children from 1 to 5 years old.

There are three important benefits of using this approach with young children. First, the methodology is fun and really engages students, even toddlers where the attention span is really short. Second, modeling the thinking routines helps children develop a structured and profound thinking and exposes them to different points of view. Third, the documentation allows both, teachers to visualize the thinking process of every child through the verbal and non verbal communication, and children to visualize their thoughts and ideas.

How to find the best preschool for your child

Edu1st.Children

Like most moms, I have done many things in life; studied, traveled, worked, got married and had a family. And to be honest, I thought that by having a family late in life I was more ready for all these affairs of being a mother, but I was wrong. One of the biggest challenges I had to face was to find a preschool for my 15 month old son.

I believed that choosing a school was a matter of doing some research with my friends, then online and finally visit the preschools. But contrary to what I had imagined, the more I asked and read about schools, the more challenging my quest turned out. First, the list of requirements I wanted from a preschool was getting longer and longer. Second, most of the schools I visited offered basically the same and third to my surprise, the curriculums were not really designed for the needs and challenges our children may face in this century. So, How do I choose the best preschool for my child?.

My list of requirements included a happy, safe and nurturing environment, a clean and friendly place with degreed teachers. In addition, a school with a strong curriculum, that will be flexible enough to challenge my child but let him be himself. Also, I was looking for an education that would be in sync with my beliefs, and last but not least; since I am not sure what is coming into my son’s future, I wanted a preschool that could offer him the tools and the base to deal with challenging situations in life.

Understand your child's stage and smile forever

As parents, we are always in search of reassurance to know that the steps we are taking to guide our little ones are correct and leading them through the right path. Unfortunately, no child comes with their instruction manuals in hand and we, very often, find our selves not knowing what to do or expect. So, for this month's article, I thought of writing about major characteristics of each developmental stage in early childhood, and some tips for you, parents, which will make your parental experience more enjoyable and clear.

It is important to keep in mind that the way you relate with your children, sets the foundation for their healthy development. Their experiences and the way you respond to them are permanently shaping who they are and the way they adapt to the world. Your child's development depends on nature but also on nurture. Also, consider that all developmental areas (social/emotional/intellectual/language/motor) depend on each other and are connected. Development is not a race. Tune into your child's individual path and enjoy the process, Yes, it is a process. Just when you feel you have mastered your child's behaviors, he/she enters a new stage with new challenges and you find your self once again lost. So knowing what to expect will reassure you that you and your child are on the right track.

Why are routines important for children?

As parents, we are usually looking for answers on how to raise a well behaved child with self esteem and social skills. Regularly we would have a daily schedule for our children with various routines that need to be strictly followed.

Therefore, it is then fair to ask ourselves if routines are really that important, how do we know if the ones we are following are actually helping our children?

Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, centuries ago said; "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit". And he was right! A routine is something we repeatedly do for the same situation until it becomes a habit. The constant repetition of that action slowly shapes our character and builds up the foundation of who we are. Routines are crucial for our children’s life, but we need to be careful, we might be helping them to become tolerant, open minded and flexible by creating good habits, but we might be handling routines inappropriately and create the opposite without noticing.

Routines give order and structure to children and adult’s life. They give children a sense of stability and self control reducing behavioral problems, teaching time management and providing the child the opportunity to predict what will happen next, a skill that later on will be of great significance for becoming a good reader. When a child knows her boundaries and what is expected, she feels some control over the day and perceives a sense of care from the adult; that helps her to become more self-confident. Research has proven that routines influence children's emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Education for the 21st Century… How do we get there?

The world is facing very important and dramatic changes. Globalization challenges individuals who are not only competing within their own countries and regions, but with other very well educated individuals from all around the world.

Manual labor has moved to less developed countries in South America and Asia. The development and research of new technologies and products is no longer limited to the industrialized countries like Japan, Germany, England or The United States. There are new players in the game; China, India, Korea and Eastern Europe and many more that will follow. Our education system was set over a hundred years ago during the beginning of the industrial era. The World has changed and so should Education. Our children need new competitive skills. Mathematics, language and science are not enough any more. The Arts are now playing a major roll when defining education for the 21st century. In addition, cooperative work, creative and innovative skills, adaptability and global awareness are now leading the way!