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Becoming a Good Consumer of Information

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Becoming a Good Consumer of Information

Most questions have no one correct or "perfect" response. Each of us wants to make an intelligent, well-informed decision; however, depending on the resources investigated, each might reach different conclusions. With so much information available, how can we sift through it all? What can we do to help us carefully look at both sides of the issue?

Your child and your family situation are unique. You need to find solutions that will work for your family, not simply adopt the solutions that worked for the family down the street. In other words, how do you wade through the tide of information available to become critical consumers of research?

Beginning the Fact-Finding Process

The good news, and the bad news, is that we live in an age of instant access to resources. It can be paralyzing to try to make a choice when bombarded with information. Adding to the confusion (since different people can come to differing conclusions when looking at the same information) there is the question of which of the ideas and opinions to adopt. To begin your own fact-finding mission:

Conduct an Internet Search

Start with a quick Web search and note how many articles and sites pertain to the topic in which you are interested. Skim through articles to select several that represent differing views. For example, if you search using the terms "in favor of grade-skipping," you will discover more than 8,500 references. Look through the most promising to get a sense of the pro side of the argument. Now try using the terms "against grade-skipping." Again, read through several to see what critics of acceleration have to say.

Be Discriminating with Statistics
As you read through your search findings, you may come across reports packed with statistics; however, the meaning of these data is not always clear. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed! Think beyond the words "research shows…" and find out how, when, and under what circumstances the study was conducted.

Keep an Open Mind
There will be parents who have experience (successful and not; good and bad) and who write about their journeys on the internet. Parents you meet will often happily share their experiences with you. While both can be excellent learning opportunities, don't let your investigation stop because of what you heard at your child's ballgame or dance lesson, or read about in an article. Your situation has its own uniqueness. It is imperative to look further to find solutions that best fit your family's circumstances.