The advent of calculators, computers, iPads and smart phones have just about eliminated the 3 R’s.
The 3 R’s: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic:
Technology has resulted in many changes, both positive and negative. The increased use of personal computers in the classroom means students are not focusing on learning the 3 R’s.
One of the 3 R’s at the highest risk is WRITING. Students are writing less and what they do write is often illegible. We are seeing a drop-off in the quality of handwriting as well.
In an effort to save time when grading projects, many elementary school teachers now allow students to hand in book reports and other written projects in type-written, rather than long-hand form.
Children, who already rely on a short-hand language of grammatically incorrect sentences complete with misspelled words, are now dependent on computer programs to correct typographical errors.
Often this results in passages with nonsensical, yet correctly spelled words inserted by the spell check software.
Further, parents of elementary school students often assist in typing the reports, hindering their children from mastering spelling, grammar and vocabulary skills.
Coupled with the policy that allows students to use calculators to assist in basic math homework, and a national movement that seems to be eliminating cursive writing from the classroom, we watch as the 3 R’s are vanishing before our eyes.
As we move towards information and communication technology in schools we see our students moving further away from the 3 R’s.
Parents of secondary school students (and those who lurk on social networking sites) can already see the downside of this movement.
Our children no longer know the basic tenets of grammar and how to diagram a sentence, identify the noun in the sentence or select the proper “their”, “they’re” or “there” when writing.
Many parents are worried about computer technology’s impact on the ability of students to write legibly, especially as it relates to state assessment and SAT exams, which still require an essay portion.
The steady decline of the 3 R’s is evident in a recent College Board report that says 2011 SAT exam scores for high school seniors dropped three points in reading, one point in math and two points in writing. The report also claims reading scores are the lowest on record.
The 3 R’s are becoming obsolete – can you imagine the impact this will have on the ability of our children to compete for jobs or communicate with others in the workplace?
Here are five ways to help your child to overcome institutional and technological impediments to mastering the 3 R’s.
- Read with your child every night:
Instill the love of reading in your toddler and nurture it throughout his or her life. Even after he or she can learn to read by themselves, it’s still important for you to read aloud together.
It sends an important message: reading is worthwhile.
According to Reading Is Fundamental, “reading to young children promotes language acquisition and literacy development and, later on, achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school.”
- Slow down, no erasing and rewrite:
In our fast-paced world our children are no longer expected to hand in a perfect copy. Set the bar higher for your child.
When an assignment is provided in advance, let your child know that he or she is expected to write a rough draft, which allows for cross-outs, erasures and spelling mistakes.
Once that is complete, have your child review his work, correct any possible errors himself and then show his draft to you to review. Resist the temptation to overcorrect; the final product should reflect your child’s ability.
Once the first draft is corrected, he or she should be expected to rewrite a final copy, with no erasures, or crunching of letters. If the assignment must be typed, do not deviate from that final draft. If you see a mistake, discuss it with your child.
If he or she does not know how to correct it, explain why it is wrong and allow him or her to re-write that sentence or paragraph.
- Back to Basics:
Put down the calculator and hide the 100 chart. Encourage your child to do all math homework long-hand.
If the curriculum does not promote the traditional multiplication tables by third grade, purchase or create flash cards and practice them at home.
Encourage you child to perform each step of a multiplication or division problem and avoid mental math, short cuts and rounding off (the dreaded forgiving method).
For elementary school students, create a problem of the day sheet.
Print out a math problem, which requires multiple steps (or a word problem that he or she needs to determine what math process to use). On a monthly basis, keep score or how many problems were correct and provide a special treat, such as a trip to the ice cream shop or a slice of pizza to reward the efforts.
- Practice Penmanship:
Children who struggle with handwriting may avoid writing, which will impact on their overall academic achievement. Good penmanship promotes strong literacy skills and academic success in all subject areas.
Libraries and bookstores are a great resource for instructional tools to help teach print and cursive letters to your child. Newsprint pads with double lines, visual aids, practice workbooks and ergonomic pencils and pens are available in most stores.
- Replace email, texting and Facebook with handwritten notes:
Replace one phone call or text message to grandma or grandpa with a handwritten note. For instant gratification, have your child write his or her letter, then scan and email the handwritten note as a PDF.
If possible, have the recipient of the note reply the same way. Make handwritten thank you notes mandatory to acknowledge any gift. Have your child “adopt a pen pal” to practice his writing skills.
Encourage your child to correspond on a regular basis with the child of a friend or relative of the same age, or a senior in retirement community.
Not only will your child be excited to receive mail on a regular basis, but it will also improve his or her vocabulary, spelling and grammar.
We all know that technology has helped to enhance many forms of communication.
When put to good use we all benefit, but without a solid educational base like the 3 R’s, all this technology will be lost on our children.
Remember, when the power is out, you can’t open a can of tuna fish with an electric can-opener!