Welcome to the Families’ Page. From here, you can link to background information about student-centered learning, what it looks like in practice, and what you can do to support effective student-centered practices in your local schools.

What does student-centered learning mean?

Parent2Student-centered learning is a term that has been around for a long time and means many things to many people. However, we use the term to refer to four specific practices that show strong evidence of success in preparing students for college, careers, and civic life:

Why now?

So what’s different about this approach? And why is this the right time for student-centered learning to spread? We see four reasons:

  • Improved research on learning & motivation: We now know more than ever before about how people learn, and today’s student-centered approaches are grounded in much stronger scientific evidence than was previously available.
  • New technologies: Today’s digital technologies give students unprecedented opportunities to take control over their own learning, allowing them to study anytime and anywhere, rather than sticking to a rigid school schedule.
  • New economic realities: The labor-market no longer rewards those who have learned to sit quietly, follow directions, and listen to the teacher. To succeed in just about any career, today’s young people must be active and independent learners.
  • Political will & momentum: In past decades, schools were bound more strictly to traditional assumptions about what the classroom was “supposed” to look like (e.g., students sitting quietly at desks, while teachers deliver lectures from the front of the room). Now, however, Americans—and their political leaders—are becoming more willing to embrace new ways of organizing schools and meeting students’ various needs.


Why is it important that families get involved in promoting student-centered approaches to learning?

Current approaches to student-centered learning are meant to empower all young people to reach their full academic, professional, and personal potential. But teachers cannot do it alone—research shows that parents and guardians tend to be the most powerful advocates that children have, doing whatever they can to ensure that young people receive a quality education.

How can the Students at the Center Hub help you learn more?

Connect with Other families

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to learn about opportunities to connect with families through organizations across New England. Check out the social media portal for a complete list of family-relevant conversation topics (to be linked) Is this page missing something? What can we include here to help you learn more about student-centered learning? Please contact us and let us know. This section is for you!

Resources of Note

Smart Parents Blog Series: A section of the Getting Smart website, this blog series tackles topics specific to families interested in learning more about education issues. Notable blog topics include: ways parents can support 21st-century learning; why mentors matter; and how to build relationships with your child’s teacher. Check out the Smart Parents book: Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning and follow #SmartParents on twitter and join the conversation.

The Glossary of Education Reform: What does my child’s teacher mean when they say “scaffolding”? Speak education – this glossary is a great resource for unpacking education terms. Originally created for journalists, this is also handy for parents and students.

5 Key Take-aways from The Past and the Promise: Today’s Competency Education Movement (blog post)

Why Engaging Parents Matters: Learn about the concept of a “Parent Walk,”and, from a parent’s perspective, how it can strengthen understanding of student-centered learning.

Inside the Teenage Brain: Understanding brain development can enable you to better understand how your child learns. This PBS series is great for adults and teens.

Test your brain: See if you know which headlines coming from neuroscience are myth!

Brainy Approaches to Learning (infographic): We know that each student is unique, but what about each student’s brain? This draws on the research from Mind, Brain, and Education to depict the brain science behind student-centered approaches to learning.

Creating Culturally Relevant Education (video): Educators, parents/families, and students talk about what it takes to enable culturally relevant education in schools and how all families should feel welcomed and encouraged to participate in their child’s education.

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