Starting Education with a Solid Foundation: Certified Learning


There are two alarming “trends” in the classroom that I have observed as a teacher. First, children are frequently focused on getting their school work done quickly at the expense of doing it well. Conscientious children or those who take pride in using discretion and ‘getting it right’ are in the minority. It doesn’t help that video games usually reward speed over accuracy.

The other trend is students taking social direction from TV shows. Unfortunately, the characters that are emulated are often superficial, stereotyped, and unkind. Competition to be ‘cool’ leads otherwise basically soft-hearted children to become aloof or exclusive. Concurrently, children with borderline social abilities may experience little friendship from one day to the next.

The SOI Certified Learning program was established so that all students would get foundational skills in a systematic way from kindergarten up. Students move at their own pace and master all the basics of their learning module before moving on to the next one. Certified Learning is a program that teachers and students love! Children take responsibility for their own progress and teachers are able to provide one-on-one assistance as needed.

As a by-product of the system, children are taught that accuracy is important and that they are not being compared to one another. They quite naturally assist their fellow students and celebrate each other’s success.

One of the biggest problems for teachers in our traditional classrooms is that the number of children who are able to attend to teachers’ group instructions throughout an entire day is decreasing. The hyperactive students are immediately in trouble as they are unable to ‘sit and listen’ with any regularity. The non-hyperactive students who have difficulty learning by auditory instruction also become disruptive as their tolerance wears thin or they develop the habit of ‘tuning out’. SOI Certified Learning tackles this problem.

How does the Certified Learning system work?

Students are assigned to various stations. A small group will begin at the computer. The first week of computer establishes that accuracy, not speed, is the goal. After 20 minutes of simple exercise at a child’s competency level, the child will rotate to the next station.

If the next station is group exercise, students are taught how to respond in a group activity with the teacher leading. Respecting other children’s boundaries and taking turns is one of the first goals at this station. Then the exercises become increasingly complex including some that develop sensori-motor integration. The children love taking turns as they put in place neurological connections that have major ramifications for ease of learning later on.

For example, one exercise establishes the ability of the two halves of the brain to communicate efficiently. Students from grade four up need this ability for reading comprehension as they encounter ever more complex sentence structure. They also need both halves of the brain for summarizing long stories and novels. By grade seven, they encounter higher mathematics such as algebra and geometry in which using both sides of the brain are crucial.

A third station assists students with basic printing and writing skills. Cognitive development skills of different types are also presented in paper and pencil format.

All stations ensure that students are interacting with learning. Those students with attention issues are being engaged again and again. They are building focus and concentration that’s appropriate for their individual capacities.

The students finish their ‘foundational’ learning in a couple hours in the morning. There is ample time for art, drama, gym, library, social and other activities during the rest of the day. What is assured is that students will systematically get necessary basic concepts as well as enrichment. The teacher has records of what has been mastered. Tracking progress is easy. Accountability is easy.

Each teacher has a full-time assistant during the Certified Learning portion of the day so while he/she is not doing ‘small group’ work, he/she is available for one-on-one assistance. Teachers love knowing their students this way.

While all students and teachers seem to love the atmosphere in these Certified Learning classrooms, a side benefit is that mildly autistic children also respond well to this system, which is highly structured though not regimented.

From a solid educational foundation to building healthy self-esteem through on-going success, SOI Certified Learning teaches independent, motivated learning. What a great way to begin a lifetime of education!

To learn more about this program, watch the video below:

written by: Connie Grist, SOI Associate

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