Education Beyond the Classroom


By Cynthia Ehmke, LSW – June 8, 2022 –

Did you know that according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, half of American adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level? Although this statistic may be surprising to some, it reveals the need for learning to extend beyond the classroom.

Teachers are amazing individuals, but they have limited resources and time. Assigned homework can be a wonderful tool if students understand the material and have the support they need at home to complete assignments. Learning to value education is more difficult when students lack positive academic role models.  

There is also strong evidence to support the benefits of early reading. Psychology Today says that infants who are read aloud to have advanced literacy skills by the time they start school. Not only is this a great way to help with brain development, but it also helps you bond with your child.

Just a few weeks ago, I was working with a student who had a digital book on his tablet. I observed as he clicked the speaker button and continuously flipped through the pages while the tablet read him the words on the page. After I watched this a few times, I asked him what the story was about. It was clear he was not comprehending any of the material.

The day and age we live in makes online learning a necessary tool, but could it also be hurting the way our students are learning? Professors from Princeton University and UCLA conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of hand-writing notes versus utilizing a computer. They learned that students who took notes on a tablet retained less information and therefore did not perform as well on exams and assignments.

This doesn’t mean that utilizing technology while learning will cause students to fail but highlights the importance that our children are learning with appropriate supervision and support.   

I don’t write this article intending to criticize technology. It serves many purposes and aids education in a variety of ways. However, when it comes to relying on individual devices and online classrooms, parents and educators must be mindful of when students aren’t benefitting from the technological tools in front of them.

Learning begins at home with caregivers. I suggest that we supply children with physical books, library cards, educational material, limit screen time, and utilize tutoring services at your school.

Lastly, provide encouragement and build up your child’s self-esteem. Ever heard that “girls are bad at math?” Make sure your daughter knows this isn’t true. Does your child become embarrassed reading in front of the class? Practice reading with your child so he can build the confidence he needs. If your children can believe in themselves, it will only push them to learn more, try harder, and value their education as they grow up.