The FTK Way
Progress reports, a FasTracKids Parents website and videos help parents experience their child’s education first hand!
Parents play a very important and influential part in a child’s education. Education.com‘s article titled “What Research Says on Parent Involvement in Children’s Education” shows that the earlier a parent gets involved with their child’s education, the more successful they are going to be. At FasTracKids®, we don’t just enroll children, we enroll families. We welcome and expect parental involvement.
FasTracKids progress reports are sent out during the year and are on a "reflective scale" (using words to describe progress instead of number or letter grades). Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled to allow parents and teachers to establish learning goals and track progress for each individual child.
Technology also helps FasTracKids and parents monitor a child's progress in the program. Children are video-recorded, presenting what they have learned in class that day. Not only do children develop the skills to make well-planned, poised presentations and develop self-confidence, but parents are able to see what their child has learned from each lesson. A library of videotapes shows progress from one class to the next, cataloging a child's development.
The FasTracKids Parents website offers a review of each lesson and additional activities to do at home to support what a child has learned. FasTracKids Centers also offer a "parent class", where parents experience for themselves the unique FasTracKids curriculum.
Our goal at FasTracKids is to support parents in preparing your children for school and developing a lifelong love of learning.
Research has shown that the most important learning years are from 0-8, as the brain forms vital connections. When we are born, we have billions of brain cells. The minute we start receiving stimuli, such as the light our eyes see, the sounds we hear, and what we touch, the brain begins to form connections. It's like we are building this massive highway system to the brain and it's by this highway that the information we learn travels quickly. The stronger and wider we can make those connections between the ages of 0-8, the larger the platform for our capacity for learning.
Research shows that high-quality education positively affects overall educational outcomes. Children lacking language, reading and social skills when they reach kindergarten are highly unlikely to be prepared for their academic career, where reading to learn is critical and a good predictor of a child being able to graduate from high school.
Lawmakers and leaders all over the world have also seen the importance of stimulating the brain's connections at an early age. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) director W. Steven Barnett states "Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not." In a featured news story from the Malaysian National News Agency, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak talked about early childhood education, saying "Every child is precious and children are assets to our society. It is the most valuable resource of the nation. I believe that developing a nation and its people begins with early childhood education."
Not only does a quality early childhood education lead to valuable resources, but it is also a smart financial investment. Economist and Nobel Laureate James J. Heckman argues in an editorial from The Republican that "early intervention for disadvantaged children promotes staying in school, raises the quality of the work force, enhances the productivity of schools and has the effect of reducing crime, teen pregnancy and dependency on welfare. Those savings add up to a 60 percent return on the investment in early education.".
Early education doesn't just start in the classroom, it also starts at home. Parental involvement is vital to the confidence and educational development of children. Colin Rose and Malcom J. Nicholl wrote about parent involvement in the book Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century. An excerpt from that book talks about parental involvement and how it can change a child's life.
"The earlier you help your youngster appreciate that learning is a joyful adventure, the more likely he [or she] is to achieve his full potential in life."
Brain-Based Education and Educational Zigzagging
The importance of early education is supported by many research studies and many educators. How to deliver early education to young children and take full advantage of the opportunities to wire the brain is not so well defined. Development of a program to instruct young children must include experts in early childhood education who have focused their research on how the brain learns. Research is the basis for the FasTracKids® signature curriculum and it determined how the early childhood education program was constructed.
The following are some facts that we do know about brain development:
- Heredity provides 30% to 60% of the brain’s wiring, while the child’s environment provides 40% to 70% of the brain’s wiring.
- Brain plasticity is defined as the brain’s ability to process the stimulation that it receives, growing more connections and developing a more efficient and faster processing brain.
- The brain changes through the process of making connections, not arriving at answers or solutions.
- Environmental stimulation can impact the IQ of a child by 20 points...either up or down.
- The school aged brain almost glows with energy consumption, burning 225% more glucose than the brain of an adult.
- The brain learns fastest and easiest during the early education years.
- By age five, 50% of the brain’s learning capacity has been wired. By age eight, 80% of the brain’s learning capacity has been wired.
- Circuits in different regions of the brain mature at different times, creating a window of opportunity.
How Brain-Based Education is used in the FasTracKids Programs
The uniqueness of children’s minds creates a special challenge for FasTracKids instructors. Brain changes are still noticeable 48 hours after stimulation to the brain occurs. Many of these changes are significant to and predictive of the child’s future learning. In studying the brain, we have learned that the areas developed depend on the type of stimulation received.
FasTracKids students are exposed to complex activities to exercise and form brain connections. These activities must be presented in a fun, challenging way to insure that the children are engaged. They are further enhanced when they are accompanied by continuous feedback from instructors and peers.
FasTracKids utilizes Educational Zigzagging methods that promote repetition without repeating the same piece of information in the same way. The content of the FasTracKids program is combined with the unique delivery of the lesson to form the key ingredients for growing young minds. The subject matter is continually reinforced through new activities using different modalities throughout the lesson to strengthen the children’s neural connections, without the typical loss of interest.
Educational Zigzagging refers to the learning of a concept by reinforcement of the subject matter through the use of many different exposures and applications. In a FasTracKids lesson, the concept to be learned is the center focus and is presented on the FasTrack Learning Station®. After each exposure to the concepts, activities are planned to strengthen the learning of the concepts. This includes learning through hand-on projects, experiments, role-plays and videotaping. The return after each activity to concepts presented by the lesson results in a zigzagging effect.
FasTracKids Educational Goals
FasTracKids Educational Goals
1. To Prepare Children for School and for Life:
When today’s children begin to enter the workforce, chances are that they will be working in jobs that have not been created yet. Children will need the ability to think creatively in order to succeed in our rapidly changing world. The FasTracKids® classroom is a child-centered environment, where children are encouraged to be instrumental in their own learning. The incorporation of an interactive whiteboard, part of The FasTrack Learning Station®, allows the children to be directly involved in the early learning concepts that are being studied. Their interaction with this technology gives them confidence at an early age that will be useful later in life, when other technology skills are needed. The CD-Rom based curriculum combines hands-on activities, role plays, experiments and videotaping to develop a fun, interactive lesson. The students will grow in their self confidence and self esteem while they build a solid foundation for future learning. When children begin their learning experience in a fun, high energy environment, their love of learning will carry through the remainder of their educational experiences.
2. To Develop Creative Thinking and Problem Solving:
These early childhood lessons promote active and reactive thought processes by engaging children in the exciting subjects of the FasTracKids curriculum. The experiments and hands-on activities make the most of children’s creative problem solving (lateral thinking), critical thinking and expressive processes. Children explore the world of decision-making and build on their entrepreneurial skills. Creativity and originality are stressed through discussions, projects and activities. Children join together to strengthen their ability to work toward a common goal. The FasTracKids curriculum is a balanced early education program that utilizes both hemispheres of the brain. Through experiments, projects and hands-on activities, the children identify and solve problems as they encounter new challenges along the learning continuum.
3. To Build Communication and Speaking Skills:
The FasTracKids curriculum teaches how to use extensive discussions and reporting to help children make the most of their communication skills. Through the use of videotaping, the children organize their thoughts and ideas into presentable narratives for their classmates. Children are encouraged to use full sentences and new vocabulary to expand their presentation skills. Using role-play and working in groups, the children practice negotiation skills and join together as a team for the successful execution of early childhood projects.
4. To Teach the Application and Transfer of Knowledge:
Children are given the opportunity through hands-on activities and projects to understand the meaning of the acquired information from the FasTracKids lessons. The children learn to classify and categorize the new concepts and experiences into a logical order. They are able to apply this newly found knowledge to challenging everyday situations. A student’s ability to receive information and create a relevant connection to a new situation shows a higher order thought process and assures that the student fully understands concepts that are presented.
5. To Promote Leadership and Personal Growth:
Children assume positive leadership roles as they role-play and interact in group situations. They, in turn, develop the ability to follow someone else’s lead and become a functional team member. The teams are responsible for decision-making and follow-through as they complete their goal. The experience of leading a team in early childhood strengthens the self-esteem and confidence of students. The practice of interpersonal skills helps students be internally motivated in setting and attaining personal goals in school and in life.
6. To Encourage a Lifelong Love of Learning:
Children love FasTracKids because the programs capture their attention and stimulate their curiosity. They experience the joy of success and strive to reach new education heights. Through actively engaging in the early learning process, they develop an insatiable desire to know more. This desire turns into a passion for learning that ultimately leads to continued success as children become life-long learners.
FasTrack Learning Approach
FasTrack Learning Approach
FasTracKids® is committed to encouraging every child to maximize his or her potential. FasTracKids classes are focused on helping children excel in creativity, communication, confidence, critical thinking and collaboration. Our proprietary Educational Zig-zagging℠ method allows children to gather information through exposure to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning, meeting the needs of various learning styles. This method allows FasTracKids to accommodate many different learning styles, while identifying the development of different early learning skills. FasTracKids incorporates these elements in each structured lesson, providing opportunities for children to experience growth in each subject area while having a great time.
The following diagram shows what percentage of each lesson the FasTracKids® signature program devotes to each early learning skill.
The FasTrack Learning Station
The FasTrack Learning Station
The same technology used in leading academic and science centers like Oxford University, MIT, Harvard University and NASA along with leading research centers and companies such as Microsoft, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Merrill Lynch and Boeing is also found in the FasTracKids classroom. At the heart of the FasTracKids® Curriculum are CD-ROM based lessons delivered via The FasTrack Learning Station®, a unique combination of computer technology, LCD projection and an interactive white board. This exciting technology engages children in the early learning process and allows trained FasTracKids instructors to concentrate on the developmental needs of each child.
The FasTrack Learning Station allows trained instructors to display multimedia video, sound, and illustrations into classroom sessions while enabling students to interact with objects and images they see on screen. With over 10 years of interactive whiteboard research, international education experts say that this technology will improve motivation and attendance, accommodate different learning styles, improve material retention and increase teacher productivity. The interactive whiteboard answers the needs of both visual and kinesthetic learners by showing large, vibrant images while letting children physically interact with material by moving letters, numbers, words and pictures with their fingers. Children that have special needs can see, read and manipulate information easier on the whiteboard than in traditional education. This innovative technology helps bring early learning to life and opens up new worlds with challenges and opportunities for children.
“My six-year-old daughter is very curious, and she is always eager to go to FasTracKids class,” wrote the mother of Monira, a FasTracKids student in Bangladesh. “She has truly enjoyed the FasTracKids Biology class, where she had the chance to visit the Amazon Rainforest, Antarctica, and the Sahara Desert. Moreover, she told us about this experience and what she saw, including camels and jackals in the desert, whales and penguins in Antarctica, and snakes, birds, monkeys, frogs and trees in the Amazon.”
With the expectations brought about by our rapidly changing world, focusing directly on early childhood education and how children can succeed is of paramount importance. FasTracKids uses its FasTrack Learning Station to help discover new worlds of potential in young children. With lessons being taught on CD-ROM, the curriculum is consistently presented throughout the world. This helps our teachers be quality facilitators of the lessons. We firmly believe that when we all take steps to make better students, it’s a giant leap into a better future.
Lights, Camera, Remember!
FasTracKids® videotaping helps with public speaking and recalling previous lessons.
Young children giving an oral presentation on concepts they have learned is not a common technique in early childhood education. Allowing children the experience of being videotaped and reviewing their own presentations develops children's creativity, communication, confidence, critical thinking and collaboration skills and is extraordinarily unique. Also, by having students organize their thoughts and displaying them in front of a camera and audience, FasTracKids shows parents proof of what their child is learning while students gain self confidence in sharing their ideas.
Opportunities to videotape students are usually scheduled in advance by the teacher, giving the students time to prepare their presentations. After the child has prepared his or her presentation, a FasTracKids teacher videotapes the child presenting what he or she has learned. Each lesson is taught using the FasTrack Learning Station® that includes a combination of activities, role-play scenarios or projects that children participate in. Usually, teachers will use activities, role-play scenarios or projects as opportunities to have children present what they know in front of the camera.
Students are videotaped regularly throughout all of the FasTracKids programs, giving parents documented proof of their child's progress in communication, public speaking, confidence and recollection skills. When students aren't being videotaped, they are part of the audience that includes the FasTracKids teacher, providing positive, constructive feedback for the student who just presented.