Have you ever been looking through your child’s graded homework or recent report card and wondered if your child is learning all they need to be? I certainly have. I am an advocate of parents staying involved in their children’s education, especially if they are in the public school system. But what’s the curriculum barometer? What does the first, third or fifth grader need to have under their belt in order to effectively and successfully move on to the next grade? You need to look somewhere other than just your district’s curriculum outline. You need a larger perspective.
Enter my recommended resource, the Core Knowledge Series of books. They are edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. and span the elementary grades of preschool through sixth grade with eight books. They are entitled “What Your ______ Need to Know.” Are they the end all, be all? No. Are they the only reference guide out there for age appropriate learning? No. Does everything in them reflect my Biblical worldview? No. Are they easy to read and use? Yes. Are they written to and for parents? Yes. Do they cover categories in each grade level such as literature, language, geography, world history, American history, visual arts, music, mathematics and science? Yes.
Essential knowledge for your elementary aged child. That’s what I’m after. Because at the end of the day or year, I want my child to have a knowledge base that he can draw from for future successes. If he never learns that slaves escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad, he will never understand that reference in another context. How can the leaders of tomorrow appreciate where our country is today (even with all its problems) if they don’t understand all our young country went through?
Is his compilation right wing or left wing? Hard to say really. My point of view is that I’m in charge of giving my child a Biblical worldview and I look to others to help me with the general knowledge of life to overlay that framework. I have found these books to be an excellent resource! Everything in this series builds on the previous year’s learning with the final goal in mind of a comprehensive education. Bingo! I especially love the clear layout and put sticky notes at the top of each category, repositioning them as my student moves through each section.
This series was originally printed about 1996, with revisions to most in 2007. In their own words, “The Core Knowledge Sequence is predicated on the realization that what children are able to learn at any given moment depends on what they already know—and, equally important, that what they know is a function of previous experience and teaching. Although current events and technology are constantly changing, there is a body of lasting knowledge and skills that form the core of a strong preschool–grade 8 curriculum. Explicit identification of what children should learn at each grade level ensures a coherent approach to building knowledge across all grade levels.” He also has an extensive list of other resources for parents and teachers entitled, Quick Links Resource Guide. You can check out much more detailed information about Core Knowledge online. If you want a checkup on your adults educational base, check out Hirsch’s book The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.
For those of you out there who have wondered if your child is learning what they should be at any given grade level, there is help. I have found these books to be a substantial resource for me as I try to stay on top of what my student needs to know.
Do you have a go-to guide for sequential educational learning? Do our kids know what they need to for college and beyond?