Education Experts Answer Your Questions

In honor of NBC's Education Nation, a week-long summit spotlighting education in America, we went to the education experts at Scholastic to get your toughest questions answered. Read on for their advice on ensuring your child gets the best education in every life stage.

Meet the Experts
Francie Alexander is the senior vice president of Scholastic Education and chief academic officer of Scholastic Inc. and has authored more than 40 Scholastic titles. She also serves as a spokesperson on educational best practices, literacy and parenting.

Clayton Wilcox is senior vice president for education and corporate relations at Scholastic Inc. He is a respected educator with almost 30 years experience in schools as a teacher, a principal and as a leader of large public school districts.

Early Childhood

If my kindergartner isn't receiving differentiated instruction that fits his learning style, should I move him to a classroom or school where he does? Or is the bigger lesson that he is going to have to adapt from year to year, teacher to teacher?

When I taught, I wanted my kindergarten kids to love school and to leave my class feeling ready to keep on learning. One of the best ways for this to happen is to see that children have experiences in literacy, math, social studies, science, health and safety, the arts and physical education. Since that's a tall order, it's important to help children make connections across all areas of learning and to be sure that their heads, hands and hearts are engaged. If you feel your child doesn't like school, talk to the teacher. The combination of your insights about your child and the teacher's training may be the formula for a successful start in school. -- Francie Alexander, chief academic officer, Scholastic

My 4-year-old is advanced (possibly gifted) academically, but is not emotionally ready for school. Should I put him into kindergarten next year anyway?

All children come to kindergarten wanting to do two main things: to learn and to make friends. If your son starts sooner, he'll need more support in class and from you on the social activities. If he starts later, he will need more advanced learning opportunities.

To help you decide, here are some things to consider. Does he play with children who will be starting school soon or with younger children? Does he express excitement or anxiety when the topic of kindergarten comes up? If he doesn't go to kindergarten, are there good pre-K and play group alternatives? Whatever you decide, share your insights about your son with his teacher. Positive parent-teacher partnerships make a big difference in kids' school lives during these important first years of school. -- Francie Alexander, chief academic officer, Scholastic

How do I get my first grader to actually read instead of guessing at the words or looking at the pictures? Is this normal?

Your child is showing an appreciation for how reading works by calling out words. This "pretend" reading is an important first step and now it's time to move on to the real thing. Your child needs to learn that the sounds we hear and say are connected to the letters we use in reading and writing. Here are three ways you can help: 1. Find out how well your child is meeting expectations. If your child needs more assistance, ask how it's being provided. 2. Sound out words together when you're out and about. Comment on new words your child can recognize and read. 3. Continue to read to your child and let your child have a turn to chime in by reading some of the words or to "echo read" by repeating something you just read. -- Francie Alexander, chief academic officer, Scholastic

What question would you like an education expert to answer? Chime in below.

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