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Putting Children First in Education

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2024 2:28 am

Putting Children First in Education

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 11, 2024 2:28 am

Cynthia Tobias shares practical advice on how to best maximize your student’s environment, attitude, time-management, learning style, organizational skills, and mental capacity. She will help parents understand the various schooling options so they can decide what method of education will be best for their child.


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For decades, we've helped Tom's family with parenting, adoption, and what it means to be pro-life. It's just typical of the way Focus on the Family has worked over the years. They just provide very practical, biblically-based things that help people to make the right choice and support people in ways that really are necessary. That's why Tom and his wife give monthly to encourage and equip other families. Focus on the Family is out on the front lines of things that are necessary in the culture and in the community, and we as Christians are called to support God's work in that way. It's just a blessing to us to be a part of it. I'm Jim Daly. I'm inviting you to give monthly so that together we can save even more families.

Join our Friends of Focus on the Family team by calling 800-AFAMILY or donate at slash family. Give yourself a lot of credit as a parent. You're teaching them to use a spoon, how to breathe, how to eat.

That was the easy part. You're a good teacher, and it doesn't mean that you have to homeschool them. There are many ways to do it other than that, and we're finding some incredible ways to help educate our children without necessarily putting them in a classroom the same way every day. But a lot of that credit goes to parents.

Have confidence in yourself first. You can do this. You can help your child learn because it's a partnership. Well, that's Cynthia Tobias describing the essential role that parents play in your child's education, and Cynthia will share more of her insights and expertise today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us.

Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I've always believed that a child's first teacher is our mom and dad. That makes perfect sense because we're there and we're most responsible for who they are and who they're going to become. And for us as Christian parents, we want to guide them obviously toward a relationship with Jesus Christ and to develop their character, their heart in such a way that they could see the world through that. I'm not ashamed of that.

Sometimes people outside of the Christian faith, they kind of belittle us for doing that. But that's our prerogative as parents with our children. There has been this brewing contention that's occurring now with public education, and we have a wonderful guest to talk today with us about what's happening, how we as parents should be looking at this situation.

You know, for me, this is really important. If I were back at square one with Trent and Troy, I would seriously be looking at alternatives to public schools. Our boys did go through charter school.

It was a good experience. But the charter school was really encouraging of parental involvement. A lot of public schools are not. And we really have the goal today to equip you to make the best decision that you can make. And let me say for those listeners and viewers who are Christians working in public schools as teachers or school administrators, we get that.

It's a mission field. And we are, you know, blessed to know that you're there and encouraging those kids. And we will pray for you, as we often do here at Focus on the Family. Yeah, the atmosphere is not exactly conducive to shaping character from a Christian perspective for those teachers. So we are grateful.

And the key you mentioned there, Jim, is it's our responsibility as moms and dads. And today our guest is an educational consultant and guru, Cynthia Tobias. She is back here at Focus, and she's a popular author and speaker. She's got a passion for education and learning and helping families be successful. Her most recent book is published by Focus on the Family. And the title is Reclaiming Education, Teach Your Child to Be a Confident Learner. And you can learn more about that and our guest at the website.

And the link is in the show notes. Cynthia, welcome back to Focus. Always good to have you here.

Oh, thanks. I really enjoy it. You're such an interesting mix of background as a police officer and school teacher. Actually, there's more in common.

I was going to say, did you find much distinction between the two? It has its moments. Yeah. And in that context, what we were saying a moment ago, so true, right? There are wonderful Christian people working in public education.

Boy, do we need them there, and we need even more people there. And all my eight years of teaching was in public education. Yeah.

But it was an uphill battle in many times. And I think the key point there is there seems to be so much transitioning from the lockdown with the pandemic. And I think parents really getting a deeper view into public education, what's going on.

And every district is different. We are generalizing in this broadcast about this, and I get it. But we want parents' eyes wide open. Speak to the revelation that seems to have occurred coming out of the pandemic. What happened, and why are parents all of a sudden alarmed? Well, 2020 was a huge wake-up call because the classroom became the living room. And suddenly parents realized what the kids were and weren't learning. And it was obvious, you know, we believed that the public schools, all the schools were obviously student-focused. And they cared about what kids learned and how they learned it. But we found out actually they don't. It really isn't about that.

It's not even neutral about that. And I would even go so far as to say we uncovered the fact that really in many ways war has been declared on the American family. That it's really more indoctrination of a lot of things that aren't even, for instance, 77%, it turns out, of kids who graduate from public school having been K through 12. 77% of them are not proficient in all the basic subjects. See, that right there is such a failing grade for public education. And we've heard that over and over again here in Colorado.

We track that closely. We have good alliances with people who are trying to change that, starting with the school boards to get the right people into school boards. I don't think a lot of people realize how much spiritual battle is going on in that regard and what some people want to teach kids. Going back to kind of the basics, you know, school was always about writing, reading, and arithmetic. I mean, that was kind of the let's get people ready to go into the workplace to develop them in these basic skills. Now it's all about, seemingly, all about more of an indoctrination, like you talk about social issues, the LGBTQ issues, you know, talking about how kids need to think.

And it's like somebody decided that if we have control of the children for eight hours a day, we want to do more with them than just teach them the basics, or don't teach them the basics and start teaching them just social indoctrination. And it used to be, you know, you'd fail if you didn't get good grades and get a good GPA. Well, that's no longer an issue because that's not, with social justice and equity, we can't really judge you by your grade point average.

We can't, because we don't want to say that you're smart and have somebody else be not as smart. And I have a very close college friend who just recently retired from public school teaching kindergarten. And when I asked her, I said, what do they do in kindergarten these days? At first, she said, well, they have to write a position paper before they can graduate from kindergarten. And I said, what kind of kindergartners, how can they even write?

A position paper on what chocolate they prefer. Yeah, well, it turns out it's more like a position paper on, you know, who I am and what gender. And I was at a homeschool co-op not long ago, and one lady came up to me and she said, you know what did it for me? She said, just this fall, I went to register my kindergartner in the public school. And she said, I was filling out the form and the question was, what gender would you like your kindergartner to be called?

And she said, I put the pen down and I walked out and I said, I'm going to do anything I have to do to not have my child in a system like that. Yeah, and I think, you know, there's a certain intensity that I'm expressing because it comes from the deepest part of my soul because I truly, I would be worried if I had, and I am worried for other people's kids that are now starting into the system. And again, I've said this, each district is different, each school is a little different, but generally this is the direction that public education is taking. Yet at the same time, I mean, there were great school teachers back when I was in school, that many years ago, decades. But the beauty of that, that there were committed Christians in my experience and they played a significant role in me learning about faith and those kinds of things. And thank the Lord for those teachers, and they're listening now, but I'm sure they're going to be nodding their head when I tell you that, because as a public high school teacher myself, they have an uphill battle and they have constraints on them that they can't break through. And so even the best teacher, and you'll have some teachers, those wonderful Christian teachers that are a gem in your child's life, but they're going to be the minority, so much so that the teacher themselves, they can't afford to lose their position a lot of times by compromising too much. So they then become quieter, more silent, et cetera, and I get that, I get that.

Very difficult decisions. Let's move into really helping parents better understand options that they have, et cetera, learning styles, that's what we want to concentrate on. The book that you've written concentrates on that. So help us understand the problem of a one-size-fits-all approach to education generally. Well, in general, it was created by Horace Mann way back when, and it was during an age where we put children of a certain age and a certain grade, we taught subjects an hour at a time, everybody the same, and a certain day and certain hours, and sitting desks and all of that. Well, Horace Mann died, I don't know, something like 100 years before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

That's how old it is. And for instance, Dell came out in 2017 with a futures report, the Dell Computer Company, and said, the kids in school right now, the K through 12, by 2030, 85% of them are going to be in jobs that don't even exist yet. Please, you've got to help the children and the students themselves figure out how to learn, not just sit in those seats and get a grade in a subject. And so being a confident learner, in my mind, means taking what God gave you naturally, and there are no two alike, so if you treat those kids exactly alike, they're not going to thrive, they're not going to understand how they learn. Your two boys are very different, my twin boys, two minutes apart, are very different.

They responded differently, they had different likes and subjects, they did their homework differently. So if we insist on keeping our kids in a rigid system that we let somebody else determine, we're not going to really, you know, God has a purpose, He created us for a purpose that no one else can fulfill. And every child, Dr. Thomas Armstrong had a great quote, he said, every child is an unrepeatable miracle.

So the more we take away that individuality and make them an automaton or just a piece of the puzzle, the greater offense we are to God. Or back to our opening comments about making them a societal change force for a direction they want to go, and I don't want to, through the threat of all of our discussion, that's the underlying thing, what's really happening in schools. But you have identified some various learning styles and we're going to get to those in a minute. But speak to how moms and dads can better understand and nurture their child's innate learning strengths. First of all, give yourself a lot of credit as a parent. You're teaching them to use a spoon, how to breathe, how to eat.

That was the easy part. You're a good teacher. And it doesn't mean that you have to homeschool them.

There are many ways to do it other than that. Or along with that, there are some great Christian schools that are actually coming alongside homeschoolers these days. And we're finding some incredible ways to help educate our children without necessarily putting them in a classroom the same way every day. But a lot of that credit goes to parents. Have confidence in yourself first.

You can do this. You can help your child learn because it's a partnership. What you don't know, you can learn with them, and that's a really valuable thing too. Although back to your original point, I mean, one of the things here, to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic, those scores have continued to fall over the last few decades. So it really comes down to the definition of what the NEA means, to learn, because they're not doing the job that they once did when it came to teaching children those basic skills.

Now it's a whole bunch of other stuff. Cynthia, those learning styles that we mentioned a moment ago, let's cover those now. You've identified auditory, visual, kinesthetic.

Speak to those three types and define them for us. Well, and even kind of the context of all of that is an important statement. The brain can only absorb what the seat can endure.

I like that rule. If you become distracted, if you're uncomfortable in your environment, all those things matter, right? So if you are a person who needs to talk about it, but you're in a situation where you're not allowed to talk, you're supposed to just listen.

But the thing is, if you're highly auditory, the person you need to listen to is your own voice before you can actually remember it. If you're a visual, I need to see what you're talking about. At least in my imagination, you have to draw a picture. I can't just sit there and listen to you talk and create my own picture.

Show me. The kinesthetic, well, that's always one of the most challenging ones. How long can I sit in this chair? And if I'm wanting to move and you don't let me move, what am I thinking about? Moving.

That's all I'm thinking about. And so even in the stuff, the information goes in one ear, gains speed, goes out the other. However, if I'm moving and I can, even just turning in my chair while you're talking to me, then I don't even know I'm moving because now my body's not telling me to move. My body is letting me pay attention.

Yeah, I mean, I'm laughing because it also works in marriage. I mean, the thing that Jean and I, I mean, and she's right. I have no defense of this, but like when she's telling me a detailed story, I'm starting to finish her sentence because I'm like, oh, you want to do that? No, let me finish.

That's my husband. You know, that's part of the auditory part. And if I interrupt him and I don't know if this is the way of Jean, if I interrupt him, he starts over. And so I have to discipline myself. No, no, I know if I interrupt him. No, it's terrible of me.

I mean, that is something. I mean, look at what I do. I talk to people all day and that's what I do at home too. But I'm always asking him for the short version. And he said, you always want the short version.

And I went, yes, I do want the short version. So those styles work their way all through our adult life, typically is the point. This is going to be your learning style, just like you have a personality type, introvert, extrovert. And you're going to spot them really early in your children if you know what you're looking for. And you start to cultivate that as a strength and help them.

They can do hard things. For instance, if the really restless child can learn how to discipline themselves to not move when they don't have to, by understanding awareness is half the battle. So if you teach them why they're having trouble and how, then they can cope with it. And so the rest of their lives, they'll know how to learn, not just get it and leave.

Yeah. Helping them, equipping them to understand how they learn is really critical. There's another element to this. It's analytical thinkers and global thinkers.

I define those because I'm not sure which I might be. This is probably one of the most empirically sound. Witkin was the researcher, just to put it in a really short version. And his studies date back to the 1940s.

And they're really solid. And it shows that the whole population of the world, which is what he did, not just the United States, we kind of have two ways that our minds were designed to take in and process information. And one of them, the analytic way is to, as soon as you take it in, you want to listen for the details.

You want to put it in steps and put it in an organized manner and break it down into pieces. The opposite, the way my brain is wired, and not my analytic husband's, is when the information comes in, I want to step back and go, okay, wait a minute, what does this have to do with anything I care about? What are we talking about? And that's the global thinker. And the global thinker is trying to figure out, how does this fit into the whole big picture? And it makes such a difference in almost every aspect of learning and of personality. Yeah, and again, the funny thing is, we're not talking about marriage, but man, does it apply, because opposites tend to attract, and that's genes the analytical, and I'm the global.

Well, and then our other genes, too, right? I mean, we're giving those traits to our kids, and they come out a mix of both. Sometimes the parents look at each other and go, so where do we get this one? And then, of course, you have environment that can impact that as well, speak to how environment can impact our learning style. I tell people now that, I said, if my parents could have afforded it, knowing what I know about myself now, I would have been the happiest if they would have gone to a restaurant supply, bought a used restaurant booth, bought it in the house, and I would have done my homework there, I could eat, I could drink, I could sit in that comfortable booth and slide in and out, I could have friends visit me, and I would have gotten all my work done. Now, that's not my analytic husband or my analytic son that would want it that way, but once you can figure out, all right, so one of the questions we ask in the workbook, if you could go to school between 6 a.m. and noon, or you could choose to go between noon and 6 p.m., what would you choose? Well, it comes out almost 50-50 with the kids themselves saying, oh, I'd love it if I could just get it over with by noon, and others are going, oh, no way, no way, if I could not get up at 6, and I didn't have to start till noon, I'd happily go till 6. So part of that is finding out when are you at your best, because, again, it goes back to your brain absorbing and having the distractions that keep you from learning, and it's the simplest thing sometimes.

Yeah, it's really good. You mentioned the workbook. That's part of this effort that you've put together in addition to an assessment that parents can help their younger kids or the older kids can do to kind of get their learning style and understand themselves a bit better. Parents and teachers speak.

I have, I beta tested it with my niece, who's a great Christian school teacher there in the Seattle-Tacoma area, and she did it with her middle schoolers. And they talked to me, and we went back and forth on what they had a question about or how they could make it better. And these are 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, and when they finished, she said they just really had a better handle on how they learned, and they talk about it, and if they come into it saying, Mrs. Soyring, I'm sorry, I'm too global, it went way past me.

And they now know a reason, and they have a language that they can talk with each other. And the workbook, it takes what you can do through preschool all the way through adulthood, depending on how you want to fill the workbook out. But for once, we can give it to teachers, especially if Christian schools are willing to do it, and you can do it with your whole classroom. Parents can figure out, for the younger kids, they can ask them questions and fill it out. For the older kids, a lot of discussion happens. And then we have found that the best way to do this is to give kids, if you want them to succeed, make them part of the whole process of getting the solution for success, their own success. When they're in charge of their own success, they can say, wait, wait, that's not going to work for me. Now, if your child starts saying that, that's not going to work for me, that's a sign of success, because you can say, what do you think you need? Well, that and buy-in, which is great for the kids, but they're buying into learning how they learn.

Right. And that's a great accomplishment for them. And I would think that's the outcome of doing the workbook and doing the assessment with your children. We have this formula for success, which is just three steps.

Know your strengths, know what you need in order to figure out what you need in order to succeed, and then be ready to prove it works, because it's all about accountability. You don't let any accountability go in this. You say, okay, it doesn't work for you. Okay, well, here's the bottom line. This is what we need to do. If you have another way to get there, let's try it. But you have to get there.

So we're not saying anything's okay. We're saying be ready to prove it works, but I'm going to give you some chance to find out. So we've covered kind of the landscape of public education and then getting to know your child's learning style and how to get them in a place to succeed. Let's move to that third component, which is what are the options educationally now? There are millions of new homeschoolers, as an example, because of the public school scare, I would say. Once parents were able to peer into the homework and the assignments and the class discussions through the pandemic, parents were like, oh, my goodness. And I think over a million new homeschool students entered homeschool programs.

Speak to the options that are there for parents. And the interesting thing in 2020, 63% decided to homeschool instead of do school in the living room. When schools opened again, only 17% of that 63 went back. The rest stayed homeschooling.

Yeah, so it's big right now. It's one of the reasons why I invited Mary Jo Dean, who she and her husband founded great homeschool conventions, and I asked her to write two chapters of this book for me to describe how the whole landscape of homeschool is changing. There are some amazing things in the homeschool. And it used to be, and I just, you know, I think, I hope I don't offend anybody, but, you know, like 30 years ago when I first started, I avoided the homeschool conventions because they were real strict with me and they were kind of, you know, they were sort of countercultural, if you know what I mean. And then it kind of turned into, well, I'm afraid they might all be women in denim jumpers.

But it's not even that at all. But now, in the last 15 years or so, it's professionals as well as the whole spectrum. I've run into lawyers and police officers and firefighters who say, you know what, whatever it takes, if it takes this, that's what I'm going to do because our children are too important and valuable. So we get some really good ideas. Yeah, there's so many good options in the homeschooling movement where they do co-op learning, you know, you get together with other parents that have expertise in math or in science or something like that. I think here in Colorado Springs, we have a lot of Air Force, you know, retired Air Force that they're astronauts and pilots and you can get into groups here in Colorado Springs, for example, that, you know, an astronaut is training your child in science and space science. That's pretty cool. That's right.

So the expertise is high. When you read these chapters, I think you're going to be inspired to find out more. You know, and I think back, Cynthia, with Dr. Dobson, I mean, he really got that rolling, focused on the family, did a lot of programs on homeschooling back in the day. You remember that, John?

You probably were just here. I do, and we homeschool because of those programs. And I think that's one option. You still have good alternatives. We did with, at the time, the charter school that we put our boys in, we thought was a great option. Thanks to Trent, he came up to me not long ago and said, Dad, I'm the only one in my class that knows how to write a college paper because of my high school.

Boy, did he complain then though. I mean, I've had John's kids in that too. So you do have some good choices.

Some really good choices. So public school, but really know your school. Charter school, homeschool, Christian private school, that can be expensive, but people might look at that as well. And you know, the bottom line with this book, it's totally biblical worldview. And there are scriptures to back it up, and we don't make any bones about saying your child was created by God, and it's too important not to keep the biblical worldview first priority in their lives. And one of the statements I make in the book is it will take sacrifices, but just be sure it's not your child who's the one being sacrificed.

Boy, that is well said, Cynthia. You know, again, I think of what is it that you want your children to know? And I think when you look at Christian values, Christian virtues, it's such a odd thing that we are dampening down any kind of teaching of any kind of values and virtues in public school. And you know, I'm probably going to get some criticism for that, but I'm staying in tune with it. But when you have students who are graduating without the introduction of good, strong, and I'm just saying not even Judeo-Christian values, but just God's natural virtues, if I could say it that way, what do you expect students to graduate with? They're not going to understand appropriateness in not lying, not cheating, not doing things that actually are counterproductive to the culture. So, you know, that is critical.

If we're producing people that have no values and virtue out of public education, we're going to have citizens that have no values and virtue, and that's really unhealthy for a democracy. Cynthia, thank you for being with us. This flew by, man.

This was so fast. But I think it's one of those great resources, Reclaiming Education, a book that's so needed right now. And when you look again at where culture is at, what happened in Virginia with parents who got involved, and really Governor Glenn Yonkin who rode that into the governor's seat there, helping parents better decide options for them educationally, that's a tip, that's a tell in the culture that something is afoot. And giving them confidence.

You've got priority here. Step up, take initiative to make sure what your child's learning and to make sure they're learning what you want them to be learning and that it's part of God's plan. Yeah, that's so good. Reclaiming Education, teach your child to be a confident learner. And you can get this book through Focus on the Family. In fact, Focus on the Family published it, and we're proud to be standing with Cynthia in that endeavor. Make a monthly pledge of any amount and we'll send it as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry team and for helping us equip parents to be more aware of options in education. Monthly giving also benefits families all year long as we anticipate working with nearly, get this John, 700,000 moms and dads this year alone, helping them to improve their parenting skills, develop stronger bonds with their children, and provide important character training to the next generation. Man, that's important stuff.

It really is, yes. You can be a part of that family transformation when you sign up to join our Friends of Focus on the Family today. Yeah, we really welcome your support, and if you can't afford a monthly pledge right now, we would welcome a one-time gift of any amount to help benefit families. Either way, call 800, the letter A in the word family, donate and request your book when you call 800-232-6459, or you can donate and get your copy of Reclaiming Education when you click the link in the program notes.

And then we'll also have a link to the learning styles assessment that Cynthia was talking about earlier. It's really helpful. Well, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. when things get tough. Everything they share is practical and well-practiced, and I can use it right away. Listen to Practice Makes Parent wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-11 04:59:26 / 2024-03-11 05:12:05 / 13

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