Back to school – A motivational investment that cannot be afford to be ignored

School days are back! Children are getting prepared to go to school after their summer vacation. There’s lots of offer on school bags, notebooks and other stationery items. Tips are being offered on managing kids in the net and in newsletters. ‘Back to school’ pangs are here everywhere among all the stakeholders involved in child’s education. No doubt, that it is a hard pressing current problem in the field of education that itself is repetitive in nature.

To be honest, I am neither a great educationist nor highly experienced researcher in the field of education. But, I am a person who is interested in such things and try my bit to address such concerns. It all depends on how we view the entire thing as such. To me ‘Back to School’ appears as motivational investment that could take the teaching-learning process a long way. From such perspective, I have shared my thoughts below.

I am sure that the teachers, parents and above all the children will have a challenging time in the beginning. Children will be back to school after spending time with their grandparents/sight -seeing trip/summer camps/time well spent with their family members and so on.  Suddenly they are about to embark back the journey of schooling and hence would face certain discomforts like getting back to routine, waking early in the morning,  more study hours,  examinations, report cards and so on.

This is where we as teachers and parents could help the child and also in turn ourselves.

Here are some tips for teachers

·         Accept that the child needs time to get back to the routine

·         Make week -1 of their school more joyous by conducting structured activities.

·         Provide opportunities for children to make greetings cards wishing each other a great schooling year ahead

·         Tell story tales related to New Year beginning at school

·         Introduce yourselves and share your likes, dislikes and hobbies

·         Provide opportunities for students to share their likes, dislikes and hobbies

·         Organize kinesthetic activities for students

·         Take students on a school walk and orient/re-orient them on various things to be followed across various school zones Ex: Toilets, assembly, activity room etc.,

·         Give activities for students to decorate their classes with pictures of their work, the places they had visited during vacation time, their favorites etc.,

·         Posters with their palm prints together to give a feeling of togetherness

·         Share your first day of school experiences with your children

Here are some tips for Parents

·         Believe that the child is experiencing difficulty in experiencing the sudden change in their routine and does not want to be out of school.

·         Talk to them about the things they like in their school

·         Talk to them about the friends they had met

·         Wake up while you wake them in the morning and be with them

·         Ask them to make a poster of their day –I in school and paste it in their reading room

·         Give them some empty stickers and ask them to write the various emotions they face during their schooling and stick it around the poster

I am sure by now you would have started getting more fantastic and wonderful ideas to make every child’s first day experience beautiful J and make it a motivational investment for their further learning.

Dr. Karl Miller just added an excellent article titled “Parenting tips for special needs kids with math disabilities.” Please read it. 

But let me offer a caveat: math instruction in public schools turns almost EVERYONE into a special needs kid.

As Dr. Miller states: “Math is the most poorly taught subject in school, particularly in elementary school. Research has proven that elementary teachers are uncomfortable with math—not only with teaching math, but with using mathematical principles in their own lives. In fact, many elementary teachers suffer from math anxiety themselves. Therefore, most elementary teachers are not good influences on the mathematical learning and attitudes of their students.” Point is, the teachers themselves are in a way special needs people, made so by the math instruction they received just 10 or 15 years before.


 I’m glad to have this hook, as they say in the newspaper business. Dr. Miller’s views give context and credence for several things I’ve been working on recently.

I like cutting to the bottom line, so let me sum up my conclusions this way: math instruction is a failure, a scandal, and I suspect a con. I had thought that Whole Word (which keeps so many children from reading) was the paradigm for awfulness. But the gimmicks devised by our Education Establishment to teach arithmetic are a close second. 

The more I looked at New Math, which came and went around 1965, the more I felt it was just a pile of nonsense. More to the point now, I realized that it never went away. What the Education Establishment called Reform Math, circa 1990, was just a warmed-over version of New Math, and still just as awful. 

Reform Math, which is actually a dozen separate curricula, was based on the so-called Standards created by the National Council of Teachers of Math. The NCTM constantly badgers the states to make them adopt these Standards. Now the federal government has jumped in with its National Standards and Common Core Standards, which are more of the same. Think Sub-Standards.

Figuring out the bloodlines and distinctions is not that relevant. The main thing to realize is that New Math was based on the idea of teaching little children how to do arithmetic by teaching them about set theory, Boolean algebra, base-8, and  many other things not traditionally learned until high school or college. This is the lethal sophistry that the NCTM has tried-- with depressing success-- to insinuate into every classroom. I believe this sophistry is dangerous and should be stopped immediately.

Children should learn basic arithmetic, using every trick, game, song and digital technology you can throw at the problem. But kids shouldn’t go on to the more advanced stuff until they master the simple stuff.

Two years ago, I wrote “36: The Assault on Math (on, where I noted an astonishing parallel: the Education Establishment had embraced unworkable methods to teach reading and as well to teach arithmetic. Maybe they weren’t acting in good faith. ( )

Two months ago I tracked down two of the books written circa 1964 to explain to kids and parents the ins and outs of New Math. Both these books are grotesque to me. I simply can’t believe a sensible, sincere adult would use any of these methods in the first, second and third grades. In the middle grades, you might introduce a few of them. (But remember that 50 years ago, these topics were taught only in high school and college, and standards were much higher then. So our so-called experts have dumbed down the schools and then insisted on the preposterous idea that in a dumbed-down school, you should suddenly start teaching things that are 10 grades ahead of the children.) Anyway, I reviewed both these books on Amazon. Here is a link to the more provocative review. Especially read this one. ( ) in

Last week I added another math article to my site “53: Education Establishment Hates Math,” which extends some of these points.

 Almost simultaneously, as a thought experiment, I wrote a piece for called “Price’s Easy Arithmetic For First Graders" ( ) I suggest you could teach all of first-grade arithmetic using only US coins. This was just to make the point that all the  bewildering complexity is in no way helpful or necessary.

Now I find myself working on a even bigger article which will be published in a week or two. You can see I became quite obsessed with the teaching of arithmetic. In examining this stuff, you are able to look into the heart of darkness. And math is hot now. There are a lot of stories in the daily press about the National Standards, and how the government is throwing money at the states to make them capitulate. Even worse, local newspapers (mine in Norfolk is particularly egregious) push for the wrong side. You can go on the internet ( and read some of the empty prose. Many states are fighting back; I urge you to encourage your governor to resist.

Here is just a single Standard from a single state for the FIRST GRADE. The thing to note is the hostility of the prose; and try to imagine the teachers Dr. Miller talked about explaining to anyone what they themselves are supposedly doing.

"Demonstrates conceptual understanding of rational numbers with respect to: whole numbers from 0 to 100 using place value, by applying the concepts of equivalency in composing or decomposing numbers; and in expanded notation using models, explanations, or other representations; and positive fractional numbers (benchmark fractions: a/2, a/3, or a/4, where a is a whole number greater than 0 and less than or equal to the denominator) as a part to whole relationship in area models where the denominator is equal to the number of parts in the whole using models, explanations, or other representations."

Cold. Very cold.