Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So - How do I help with Maths?

Children build their understanding of Mathematics, like all things over time, through experiences they find engaging or motivating. I have outlined some of the ideas I think are important. It is certainly not an exhaustive list, but just a few ideas of things that can be done at home to support the learning taking place at school.

1. Create a daily routine for homework. The start of the school year - i.e. NOW is a great time t develop a timetable o the students activities and homework commitments. Apart from being a good maths lessons in itself, a pre-determined routine will allow your child to apply themselves to the task immediately. Also, decide where you child is going to do their homework - in front of the TV is probably no ideal.

2. Most Maths homework is designed to review concepts already covered in class. It is also designed to build upon the skills that students already have. Therefore, it is a great way to keep track of any concepts that appear to be causing difficulty for your child. This is also a great way of you checking that you understand what they are completing in class so you can help them out when they need it.

3. Know and Understand the Grade Level Expectations and Curriculum Being Used to Meet These Goals. Visit the NSW Board of Studies Website and read over the Foundation statements. They are a snapshot of what students in each stage of learning should be able to complete. You can also have a look t the K-6 Maths Syllabus and get even more detail about the content of Mathematics lessons in your child's classroom. By understanding their learning journey better, you will be more informed to support this journey.

4. Maintain Open Communication With Your Child's Teacher. Remember, your child's teacher has many students he or she must attend to throughout the day. If you or your child do not understand a concept ask a question. It is quite possible that your child has enough understanding of a concept to complete work when supported in class, but not when working alone. This information is valuable and vital to addressing your child;s learning needs. If you feel that your child needs additional assistance beyond what you are capable of providing - be it remedial or enrichment work - begin by asking the classroom teacher for guidance.

5. Ask Your Child Questions. Spend time with your child talking about Maths. Ask questions about the steps they used to solve different problems. This will often give you a first-hand understanding of their level of mathematical knowledge and development. Do they truly understand the process they used for solving the problem, or have the simply memorised and regurgitated a formula? This will also give you the opportunity to correctly identify any breakdown in understanding.

6. Review Language. Use the appropriate mathematical language in your discussions of Maths at home. Find a good Maths dictionary that uses language consistent with your child's school experience. Spend time looking up terms and concepts that come up in your child's homework that you are unfamiliar with. You may even wish to help your child create his or her own mathematical dictionary, to keep track of new terms, rules and concepts.

7. Share Real-life Math Situations. Encourage your child to think about how Maths fits into their everyday lives - while doing jobs, at the shops, in sports activities, during regular pla
ytime, in the kitchen, and so on. Then, take it one step further by requiring them to use their mathematical knowledge to solve real-live problems: How many tablespoons are in 1/4 cup of butter? Can you sort your socks by colors? Since there are nine lollies left - how many will you and your two sisters each get so that it is a fair share? These are very simplistic examples, but give you the basic idea.

8. Play Games That Encourage Mathematical Thinking or Reinforce Skills. Playing math games is a fun way to again improve math skills, and make real-life connections. Most classes play Maths games as part of the teaching and learning program, so ask your child to teach you some. When in doubt, just enjoy a good game of Yahtzee, Chess, Checkers, UNO, Battleship etc. etc.

9. Encourage Mathematical Exploration. There are toys, products and gadgets around your home that provide students with the opportunity to improve their mathematical understanding. Like what? How about

•a home calendar
•a watch
•a map or globe
•a book of mazes of puzzles (like Sudoku)
•a ruler or tape measure
•a compass
•a measuring cup
•containers labeled by size
•a scale

Helping your child with math at home is easy, fun and will make their learning meaningful. Above all, remember that by working to improve math skills, you are preparing your child for future success!

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