We know how to teach math, science, and English to students in elementary schools, but how do we teach students to learn about history and the humanities?
That’s what the National Kindergarden Learning Alliance, an organization of teachers, researchers, and researchers, is trying to solve with a syllabus that focuses on those topics.
It’s the latest in a string of efforts to address the growing divide between how much students learn in classrooms and how much they learn in the world, as well as a trend that has emerged in recent years: students are becoming more comfortable in learning more about the world through reading books.
“Reading is an integral part of learning,” the syllabus reads.
“Reading helps students learn to think critically about the information they are learning and develop skills in problem solving and problem solving skills.”
While some of the content on the syllabi is geared toward a younger audience, the syllabular also has an emphasis on topics that students may have trouble learning in class.
“There’s a lot of information in the syllabo that is not helpful to students who have not read extensively or in depth,” says Dr. Rachel A. Rochon, associate professor of education and chair of the education department at The College of William and Mary in Virginia.
“If you have read a lot, then it might be a good idea to spend some time reading through some of these texts to get a feel for what the material is about,” Rochons co-author says.
There’s also a focus on the importance of reading outside the classroom, such as at a movie theater or at home.
“It’s important to have books around to help you remember when you’re not reading or to help students remember where to start,” says Rocho.
The syllabus also addresses a major gap: it doesn’t include any language arts content.
There’s no language arts course in the core curriculum, which includes English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Instead, the National Library of Canada and the Library of Congress have created a curriculum for students, teachers, and parents that focuses more on the content of the core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics.
In 2016, the Library and Library of America opened a Reading for All section in the National Center for Science Education curriculum.
That section is the largest resource for educators and parents looking for a reading curriculum that is inclusive of all students, and the National Council of Teachers of English and American Sign Language has recently launched a similar resource for students.
While the National Book Awards and other national awards have focused on how books can be used to improve literacy and numeracy, these initiatives don’t address the issue of how to improve reading skills for students who don’t have the skills to do so.
“We are still trying to understand what are the barriers that are holding back kids who don.t have the ability to do these things,” says Jennifer Loeffler, an author of the syllabis.
“Are there ways that we can give them more of a chance?
Can we make sure that they’re getting more of an opportunity?
Can they really learn how to read in the first place?
We really need to understand this, so that they can have a chance to learn.”
For more information about K-12 education, check out the National Academy of Sciences K-8 Learning Center.