Success is a journey. It is best to start the journey with success in mind and build the foundation from the start.
But, sometimes that is not possible. We have to intervene and jump from the pathway to struggle back to the pathway to success as some children grow up. Growth requires the development of key skills. Students who struggle did not develop the full range of skills required for a given task, such as reading.
Homelife and the environment in which a student develops impacts their ability to build the necessary skills. To succeed, students need a nurturing environment and exposure to a complete and balanced set of learning experiences, both at home and in school. When a student does not receive what they need in one environment, we must find ways to compensate and provide each student with the support they need to succeed.
Stage 1: Womb to Classroom
This period of time is the most critical brain development stage for children to establish a strong foundation for learning. There are many websites that provide information on why this is so and how parents can best manage this stage to help their children develop a strong foundation. buildthefoundation.org/initiative/first-2000-days/
Since there are already many initiatives in this stage, the BYSM will not specifically develop a separate curriculum or process. We will encourage families to take advantage of available resources. Over time we will create a resource list to make families aware of available information. Each chapter will be better able to let members know what is available locally.
Stage 2: Elementary School
Students who enter school with a good set of foundational skills that empower learning usually succeed. The degree to which they succeed may depend upon the quality of instruction, but most can succeed to a reasonable level regardless of the quality of the school. They will find a way to succeed.
However, most students who struggle entered school lacking some foundational skills and they never caught up. This is referred to as the Skill Gap. Most schools do fairly well teaching grade-level curriculum, and students who have the skills do ok. But, most schools are not prepared to close the Skill Gap, especially for those who have a significant gap. Traditional curriculum does not develop the full range of skills required to achieve reading proficiency. And most teachers do not have the time and resources to address the needs of each student individually.
We believe that schools could adopt a curriculum that provides a broader range of skill development to better catch up students who are behind. They can also adopt proven practices that provide more individual attention and immersion to students who have a Skill Gap to help them catch up. We will promote this practice but it will take time to change the education paradigm.
In the meantime, we offer parents access to proven tools they can use at home that can help them to close the Skill Gap for their students. Waiting for schools to adapt is not working or happening quickly enough. Families must realize the only near-term solution is to take responsibility and help their children succeed.
Stage 3: Middle School
Students who did not achieve reading proficiency by 4th grade are behind. However, most schools will advance students even though they are behind. School can become very frustrating for students who continue to struggle at this stage.
The transition to middle school for students who are behind can be difficult. The curriculum is getting more challenging and requires reading proficiency in order to keep up. Students who are behind in middle school become more likely to have discipline issues and find themselves on the pathway to dropping out or not graduating on time and with the skills needed to succeed in post secondary education or career.
It is still possible to provide students in middle school who are behind with intensive training that can catch them up to grade level and close the Skill Gap. Overcoming social emotional and mindset issues becomes critical. If a student is frustrated and does not believe they can succeed, that can block success. They are more likely to view any intervention as punishment and confirmation that there is something wrong with them.
First, it is important to convince them that their struggles are not their fault. Next is to identify likely causes in their individual Skill Gap profile. Then we must provide each student with the tools to strengthen their skills and close the Skill Gap.
The tools are similar to those used in elementary, but in the case of the reading program there is a version with a format more appropriate for older students. The cognitive assessment and training program is available to evaluate and train cognitive skills. Students at this level will need to train a little longer and more intensively to catch up.
Stage 4: High School
The high school stage is very similar to the middle school stage from an assessment and training perspective. Mindset becomes even more important.
This is also a time to begin helping students to consider their choices and opportunities for post secondary education and career. Over time, we will develop connections to resources to help our students at this time.
Post Secondary, Career
It is still possible that there are students who either dropped out of high school or even if they graduated, to have reading and learning struggles. The same approach used in middle and high school can still help students catch up.
Over time, we will develop connections to resources to help students at this stage of their careers.