Missing Link in Education

Taking a close look at multiple success stories, even before it was scientifically proven, those who were brought up with home education at an infant age, they had leverage to their peers academically, some in later prospects in life.

The missing link in any education system globally, is parents.

A fascinating research by Charlotte Alter from Time magazine, noted of parents who raised children who all went on to extraordinary success - "They realized the importance of early-childhood education and taught their children to read and count before they even set foot in a classroom. Some even taught their children to read before they were 2 years old.

They empowered their kids because they wanted to make sure they could take care of themselves. If they can read early they can read signs. If they can do math early, they could handle money. The more you do for your kids, the less they do for themselves and the less empowered they feel."

That also denotes character building approach by those parents.

Imagine how parents can impact education in those countries scoring low on education if they can give their children a solid foundation before their children even set foot in a school.

For a moment, indulge me in examining a country such as South Africa (SA) where Apartheid and HIV AIDS have a major impact on their education. The majority of South African children are not learning to read in any language by the end of Grade 3 according to a research paper published. (Identifying Binding Constraints in Education, 2016)

Furthermore, South Africa ranks last out of 148 countries in the Global Competitive Index for Primary Education (2014), clearly illustrating the need for an innovative, cognitive intervention plan for early childhood development in order to change the future of their human capital.

Keep in mind that human capital is quickly becoming the most valuable asset for any nation, above their mineral resources. This is evident by the prosperity of small countries in relation to land size and population, despite few or no minerals like Netherlands, Singapore, England and Japan. Those countries and more, leveraged their human capital to excel, which is developed from an early age.

The root problem lies with parents not talking, playing or reading to their offsprings. Children from fortunate families, hear 30 million and more words by age 3. Parents left behind by Apartheid in SA don't have the knowledge, they don't know that it is their responsibility to teach their kids the basics, they believe it is their government's job.

Therefore most children enter school without knowledge of color, shapes, numbers, big and small, position words and that written words have meaning. These basic words and concepts are the vocabulary children need to understand the world around them. These concepts are the foundation blocks for ALL FUTURE LEARNING, especially mathematics.

It has been found out that an important predicting factor of later academic achievement is the early mastery of basic maths concepts according to a study by Norhwestern University, USA in 2007. Support for the study came from the Center for the Analyses of Pathways from Children to Adulthood at the University of Michigan, a National Science Foundations-funded Developmental Science Center.

Many existing Early Childhood Development programs in emerging markets were written for privileged children with adequate vocabulary. These programs were never adjusted to suit the needs of the millions of under privileged children.

We have to try and bring disadvantaged kids on par with advantage kids using an appropriate method so that children can learn these basics in a short period of time.

A phenomena have been trailblazing the globe, in the emergence of cutting edge organizations that took it upon themselves to address these challenges, one such organization is BrainBoosters which adjusted, tested and developed programs for disadvantaged children zooming on early math and early reading.

There should be no concern about the advantage of teaching a child to read before they go to school if the majority of children cannot read in any language by a later grade.

In South Africa children have to switch from mother tongue to English in Grade 4, which is late. This is a major reason for children not coping with mathematics, the language barrier is just too big. BrainBoosters offers a solution to their government to consider replacing a subject called Grade 1 EFAL. (English First Additional Language) with the BrainBoosters Grade 1 EFAL program.

In this subject they address mathematical concepts in English and use an embedded phonics method to give children 'I can" mentality and attitude in Grade 1. Parent involvement is insured by giving parents board games and showing them how to interact and play with their children at parent evenings.

To merely try to copy the Hillary Clinton campaign in the USA to encourage parents to read to their kids will never succeed in South Africa because the majority of parents don't read themselves. We have to be innovative and take baby steps that will lead to young parents reading to their kids. Example of these baby steps are done by the BrainBoosters Clinic program that is currently tested in a clinic.

They provide BabyBooster Packs when mothers visit the clinic. Each of these 6 packs consist of five written words and their meaning (e.g. red, blue, yellow, green, and orange). Using picture driven examples showing parents how to play four games daily with their baby using five written words.

Recognition by industry players, when honoring excellence within the African Education Industry, BrainBoosters in 2016 they won NGO Award, Early Childhood Development Award as well as being a finalist in the Innovation Award.

Worldwide there is a move to open source learning and BrainBoostersAcademy.co.za is one of them, offering parents guidance on how to teach these basics to their kids from 15 months - 7 years focusing on early math instruction with a strong undertone of literacy.

Organizations like BrainBoosters, want to empower parents across the world by showing them how they can take responsibility for their child's future.