Marie Hall, co-founder of BeMoneySmartUSA in Carmichael, a non-profit financial literacy training and youth employment development center (for students ages 13 to 18 years of age), is concerned that the current education culture does not adequately prepare children for the technology-driven, dynamic markets and global economy.
“The future our youth face after high school and college graduation requires the ability to capitalize on trends and adapt,” Hall said. “I am concerned that we are primarily training students to take tests in order to get into schools for the sake of status, rather than helping them to discover their own ability to think critically and solve problems; this requires a mind trained for life long learning.”
According to Hall, the first challenge to overcome is the limited thinking of adults, who naturally want to train children in the ways that worked for them. “We need to shed our own beliefs about the possibilities for our children’s future, and prepare the children to be in charge of their own learning if they are to thrive in the global, competitive economy,” Hall said.
In this regard, Elk Grove parents Jessica and Richard Valencia have found that sometimes parents need to change the learning environment to suit the needs of a child.
Their nine-year-old son Thomas is thriving at Connections Academy @Ripon, a virtual public school serving the Sacramento region. It is an on-line charter school for home-based learning with fully certified instructors (via video) and curriculum. Thomas’ siblings, Antonio (14) and Maribel (16), are in traditional schools. “We needed to find an alternative for Thomas,” his mom said. “The social environment of the local school was hostile for him,” she said.
The Valencia’s were pleasantly surprised by how well Thomas responded to the on-line learning program. “Thomas is in charge of the learning and he manages all of his deadlines and assignments around the other activities and family events,” his dad said.
Thomas is an actor. He and his family travel to Southern California for assignments, and the on-line academy affords Thomas great flexibility to excel in school while pursuing his career.
“When we travel, Thomas packs all of the equipment and materials he needs to complete assignments. He is motivated and his computer skills have expanded, going at his own pace,” his dad said.
Don Ogden, is the principal of Connections Academy @Ripon which just opened in the fall of 2012. “Our enrollment has grown from 50 students to 271,” Ogden said. According to Ogden, the public response to the school has been very strong and he has hired more instructors to accommodate growing demand.
Open enrollment for Connections Academy @Ripon starts Mar. 4.
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Joanna Jullien is an author and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, a contributor for Three Moms and a Mike, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.