The tools of learning are indeed many, but those which will concern your child most aside from you, his parents, are: (1) Time, (2) Books, and (3) Teachers. Indeed, without the proper understanding and use of the tools the whole process of learning is drudgery, characterized by disinterest and delay.
Your child can be made conscious of the great time element involved in his or her education, for time is indeed the first tool of education after parents. He can be taught to use that time wisely. Time is one of the great responsibilities that life places before us, and it is the most limited blessing that we have on earth. In life we meet few people, indeed, who have learned the value of time.
In order to form good study habits your child must know what he or she is going to study and when it is to be studied. From the modest beginning of the twenty minute story-time, the child can be trained to respect schedule and regularity in study.
Perhaps not until about fifth grade level can there be a definite allotted time for different studies - Arithmetic 5:00-5:30, Spelling, 5:30-6:00, Reading 7:00-7:30. It is important to have the child write out the schedule and put it on his desk. As the work increases the study-time should be scheduled accordingly. Doing the work at the designated time is the important thing.
The first tool of education (time) will be spent largely with the second tool of education - books. Books are the memory of mankind. In books we become a part of the great drama which we call life. Here the aims of education and its purposes are made clear by the hopes, aspirations, conflicts, experiences, successes, and failures of people who are like us.
While the nature of textbooks varies greatly in different subjects, the fundamental and common sense practices for the successful use of texts are basically the same. If your child can be led into accepting the following suggestions, he will quickly show a new self-confidence in his ability to master a subject, and inevitably improved achievement will be noticeable on the next report card:
(1) Accept your basic obligation toward the textbook to be interested in what it contains. (2) Be ever conscious of the fact that here is a tool which is going to be used for many hours and weeks. (3) Study the textbook and get an over-all picture of the plan of organization, arrangement of topics, and sequence of material. (4) Make a preliminary survey of each assignment, and study topics rather than pages.
(5) Make each assignment a question - "What am I supposed to learn?" - then answer that question by using the 3R formula - Read, Recite, and Review. (6) Make your textbook a personal thing, mark important sections with marginal notes, underline details and facts to be learned. The child who follows these suggestions will soon demand of his or her parents an encyclopedia, for the textbook will no longer satisfy the thirst. Surely, this will be one expense in which father will glory.
The third tool of education is the teacher. Make your child keenly aware of the fact that although mass education and overcrowded school conditions, plus a doctrine of education that things must be made easy for the child, have opened the doors for ineffective teachers, and have turned some effective teachers into file clerks, home room custodians, baby sitters, and hallway policemen, there are still teachers who know that lights lit long ago are still burning, and will ever search the darkness of the mind and heart to drive out all that is wrong in thought, reasoning, motive, and feeling.
There are still teachers who will ceaselessly contend for truth and right, revolutionize a human soul, and within limits, determine a human destiny. Hope that your child will recognize such a teacher when he meets him or her in the classroom.
Help your child appreciate these three tools of learning and you will help him for life.
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