Elementary School Parent Math Support
How Can I Help My Student With Mathematics?
• Set a regular time for homework.
• Pick a place that is quiet and without distractions.
• Provide supplies and identify resources.
• Go over the directions to find out if your student understands what to do.
• Ask your student if they know where to begin, assist them is getting started, but resist the temptation to do the homework for your student.
• Look over completed assignments.
• Encourage your student to be precise- use correct mathematics symbols, numbers, and vocabulary.
• Watch for frustration and avoid having students work for long periods of time.
• If your student is unsure of what to do, ask questions such ask, “How did you find this answer? What do you know about this problem?
• When solving word problems, ask students, “How would you describe the problem in your own words? What information is given in the problem? Can your draw a picture of the problem? Should you add, subtract multiply, or divide?
• Encourage your student to when explaining how they solved a problem to identify and explain the steps used to solve the problem.
• When explaining why, have your student tell what they know about mathematics that makes the answer correct.
• Talk to the teacher about any concerns.
• Your most valuable resource is your student’s teacher.
How do I help my student learn basic facts?
Before students begin to memorize the basic facts, they need to understand the meaning of addition and subtraction. First, look at the classwork and homework that is coming home. Use that as a guide to create other problems or activities that are similar to those your teacher has created. If needed, ask your student’s teacher for additional suggestions and materials to help your student.
When your student is learning their basic facts, it is important to remember there are two things your student needs to do in order to recall the basic facts from memory. First, your student needs to purposefully be able to match the answer to the fact. Next, your student needs to practice the known facts multiple times in multiple ways to recall the facts quickly and efficiently. Students begin learning the facts with different types of strategies.
A word of caution, many times students are expected to learn the facts using flash cards and multiple pages of problems. These type of activities simply ask students to recall facts they have not learned and do not help them learn the facts. These are appropriate to use once students have demonstrated they can recall the facts accurately. There are many online resources that are appropriate once students learn the facts.
Why can't we just teach students the way we learned?
If you don't recognize the mathematics in your student's homework, think about how the world has changed since you were in school. The mathematics looks different because the world is different Advances in science, technology, information processing and communication, combined with the changing work place; make it necessary for all students to learn more mathematics. Business and industry demand workers who can:
• solve real world problems
• explain their thinking to others
• identify and analyze trends from data, and
• use modern technology
In their mathematics classes, students will learn and practice the mathematics for their grade using the four strategies listed above. You will see a shift from pages of individual problems to seeing single and multiple step real life problems that students often solve individually, with a partner or in a small group. Students will be encouraged to think through and discuss the problem and solution with others. Students will often be writing to explain how they solved a problem using precise vocabulary and steps that were used to solve the problem. Often students will solve problems using data and technology as part of the problem solving process or as a reference. Students are encouraged to use the mathematics they know and apply it to the next level of skill development or problem solving. Students still need to find the right answers and use mathematically correct and efficient procedures.
If teachers are using strategies you are unfamiliar with, first ask your student’s teachers for help.