The following tip sheets will help extend this learning to parents of all New Albany Floyd County Schools. Choose from many tip sheets with practical, hand-on ideas for you to use to help boost your child’s learning. Feel free to share these tip sheets with other parents. Reading Skills | Reading Motivation | Handwriting | Writing with Confidence | Dyscalculia Help | Preschool Math Help | Elementary Math Help | Teen Math Help | Literacy & Math Skills | Literacy Skills
For parents of primary students, Learning to read is a process When a child learns to walk, he goes through certain stages from crawling to standing and, finally, to his first step. Learning to read is a similar process – learning is done through stages. Every child is unique. Some move steadily from stage to stage while others take more time to move to the next stage. This is true whether a child is learning to walk or to read. You can make a difference Just as you helped your child to talk and walk, there are ways you can help your child read. To help your child move smoothly through the stages, the key is to give her the right kind of support at the right time. “The task of learning to read is the greatest single effort that the human mind can undertake. Your child cannot do it alone. To become a real reader your child needs you.” Paul Kropp Ideas to Get You Started Just like a house requires a solid foundation, there are certain things your child needs to be able to do in order to learn how to read. These include:
- learning the letters of the alphabet
- learning sounds letters make
- learning how books “work” – for example, books are read from left to right, front to back
Try sounding out words Sounding out words is difficult for beginning readers. Try these tips:
- Skip the word and finish the sentence. The meaning may become clearer.
- Ask “What word would make sense here?” Use your head and eyes to read.
- Look for a small word you know inside of a longer word, e.g. inside
- Use another word that makes sense
Focus on the positive “Beginners must see themselves as successful before they are capable. Confidence building is the key to reading success.” Vera Goodman, Reading is More Than Phonics! Try saying…
- “I like the way you stopped reading when the sentence didn’t make sense”
- “I like the book you brought home for us to share”
- “Good reading! That’s exactly what you should do”
Reading is more than just sounding out words “Efficient readers use strategies that go beyond phonics.” Vera Goodman Comprehension involves making connections between print and the reader’s experiences. Good readers use a variety of strategies to make meaning from print. Give the right help at the right time If you notice that your child…
- shows an interest in books and the print around them
- imitates you as you read
- retells stories she has heard
- memorizes favourite stories
- begins pointing to words
- reads common words (e.g. in a book, on a sign)
- sounds out words she doesn’t know
- points to the words being read
- read to your child as often as you can
- accept and praise your child’s attempts to read
- talk about the books you read
- talk about the pictures
- have your child join in with familiar stories
- set up a home message board for your child to read and write notes
- try strategies other than sounding out
- give your child time to correct errors. If it makes sense, ignore it, for example if your child says “house” instead of “home,” that’s okay.
Questions to ask your child during reading time:
- Did the story remind you of anything you know about?
- What did you wonder about while you were reading?
- What do you think might happen next?
- What do you see in your head as you read this?
- What do you understand now that you didn’t understand before?
Discover the magic of reading aloud, For parents of students in primary and junior grades Reading is love You are your child’s first and most influential teacher. The parent-child relationship that begins with reading aloud can develop into a lifetime of learning together. Here are some practical tips for making it happen. Find a consistent time, or two Sometimes it takes a little juggling to find the ideal time to take that reading break with your child. Quality reading requires concentration so think about moving the reading routine to earlier in the evening. The main point is to have a routine that adult and child look forward to. Two shorter reading times could also work. Choose the right books together Parents need to consider their child’s interests, but they also have a role to play in choosing books. Choose books for a reason:
- Non-fiction texts build vocabulary and world knowledge
- Rhymes and poems encourage play with language
- Books with predictable patterns give young children the support they need in order to read independently
- Reading to the child just above his reading ability level helps develop reading vocabulary
- Re-reading of familiar books builds confidence
- New versions of old favourites keep the plot lines and characters fresh and interesting
What’s too hard to read aloud? Any reading material that is beyond your child’s emotional or social maturity level is too hard. Learn tricks that add drama
- Believe it or not, reading slowly can be better. Children’s authors read their own work slowly and with lots of expression. Check out individual author’s websites to hear this for yourself!
- Long descriptions are hard to read aloud. If you own the book, pencil out or bracket these parts and skip them.
- Use toys, food or pictures as props to help read, tell or retell the story.
- Prepare for a second reading with sticky notes beside your favourite parts.
- Sometimes give the fidgety child some paper to draw pictures about the story as you read it.
- You can ‘write’ yourself and your child into new versions of favourite tales and enjoy performing these together.
- Think big! Take your children beyond the words on the page into the author’s world.
Plan for a lifetime of learning Young children learning to read on their own need lots of encouragement and benefit from repeated practice with easy books. As children mature, so can the book talks between parent and child. Reading together gives the parent and the older child a shared experience, and talking about the ideas in the book develops the mind. What began as simple language play with babies evolves into a learning connection with adolescents. Great minds don’t just happen; they are carefully nurtured within close relationships. Read on to learn some coaching language that encourages thinking at any age. More on reverse… Talk about the book Use these questions and sentence starters to encourage your child to clarify and extend his or her thinking. Be a model student and show your child how to learn along with you. Words that help the parent and child share the learning:
- That’s exactly what I was thinking.
- Oh, now I see what you mean.
- I never knew that …
- I’m not sure. What do you think?
- You’re right! How did you figure that out?
Words that help make predictions:
- Let’s look at the pictures. I wonder …
- I wonder what would happen if …
- What questions do we have right now?
Words that support comprehension:
- Let’s make a list of …
- I think that part might be important so I’m going to read it again.
- Let’s retell the story from the pictures.
- Maybe we can find some clues.
- Well, we now know …
- Let’s look at the picture again (read that part again) while we think about your idea.
- Could you tell me more about that?
- What do you mean?
- Does that make sense?
- Is there a part you don’t understand?
- Are there some words you don’t understand?
Words that lead to critical thinking and summarizing:
- Do you think that could really have happened?
- Who do you think would like this book? Why?
- Let’s think about the moral of the story.
- I think the author wants us to learn … from this story. Let’s look for proof.
Words for making connections:
- Does that remind you of anything? Anyone?
- That character reminds me of you. Remember when you …
- I wonder if we could find some other books about …
- That reminds me of the time we …
Words for having fun:
- I love the sound of those words. I’m going to read them again.
- Let’s clap out the words.
- Let’s walk out the poem.
- Let’s make up a finger play.
For parents of elementary and middle students
What is a reluctant reader?
There is no universally accepted definition of the term reluctant reader. Children who are or become reluctant readers can do so for a variety of reasons. Their reluctance may occur because of limited prior learning experiences, low self-esteem, stumbling blocks to their growth as readers and a host of other reasons.
Broadly speaking, reluctant readers often fall into three categories:
- Dormant: they like to read but often don’t have time or don’t make time for reading.
- Uncommitted: they do not like to read but may read in the future.
- Unmotivated: they do not like to read and do not ever expect to like to read.
How do parents turn reluctance into motivation?
- Celebrate and be proud of your children’s successes in reading.
- Continue to read to your children every day, regardless of their age, and let them choose what to read.
- Encourage your children to read and write letters, postcards, e-mails, lists, and messages.
- Leave notes and riddles around the house for them to find.
- Read some of the books and other materials that your children enjoy so that you can share reactions and pleasures together.
- Browse together in bookstores, and through library collections or magazine racks.
What types of reading material can we show we value to encourage them to read more?
We need to widen our definition of both literacy and what it means to read. We can expose our children to a variety of reading materials and opportunities outside of books. Other types of reading materials could include:
- instructions, labels, recipes, ingredient lists on packages
- billboards, advertisements and commercials
- newspapers, magazines
- posters, greeting cards and signs
- street maps, timetables and schedules
- brochures and pamphlets
- instructional manuals and rules for games
- DVD liners (movies) and CD liners (music)
- song lyrics
- websites and online content
- charts, tables, diagrams, figures
What kinds of books can arouse curiosity to read?
Every child has his or her own personal tastes and interests. Parents can help reluctant readers by tapping into these interests and providing them with opportunities and materials to pursue their interests and make their own choices. Books fall into two common categories:
Fiction – mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure, war, historical, poetry, graphic novels, comic books, joke books, etc.
Non-fiction – atlases, information books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, craft books, cookbooks, instruction manuals, games books, and (auto)biographies, etc.
What are some practical and effective strategies parents can use in their homes to encourage reluctant readers?
Reading aloud helps children, especially those who are discouraged by their poor reading skills, become more confident. The pleasure of listening to you read may help them rediscover the joy of reading. Remember these points:
- Read aloud often to, and with, your child regardless of her age.
- Make reading a fun, enjoyable experience.
- Read in your first language if English is your second language.
- Encourage older children or other relatives to read to younger children.
- When you read to your child, read with enthusiasm.
- Let your child select the reading material and support his choices.
- Use visual clues found in the reading material to help them make meaning.
- Show interest in, and talk to your child about, what you are reading together.
- Connect what you are reading to your child’s experiences and interests.
- Present reading as an activity that has a real-world purpose and application, like putting together a model or a toy.
- Shared/guided reading and shared discussion
Both support children in their journey towards becoming stronger and more independent readers. In shared/guided reading and discussion, parents talk about the reading material, model how to read, and encourage children to join in whenever they can.
Keep in mind the following points:
- Praise your child whenever possible.
- Enjoy the experience of reading together; show interest in what you are reading and talking about together.
- Point to each word, as you say it, to help your child to learn the words.
- Listen carefully to how they read and to what they say.
- If your child makes mistakes, try not to emphasize the errors. Instead, use complete sentences so that your child hears a model of the correct word and good grammar.
- Talk about pictures, artwork and/or other interesting details that accompany the text.
- Ask interesting questions about the text. Encourage and model curiosity.
- Review new and/or difficult words.
- Encourage your child to talk about the material and to make connections both to other things she has read and to her own life.
Helpful Handwriting Hints
- Trace each letter with index finger then a pencil before printing using correct formation (top to bottom/left to right for upper case).
- Review one letter for no more than ten minutes each day.
- Use a multi-sensory approach: Practice printing the letter using a variety of methods. Sidewalk chalk, dry/erase board, play-doh, shaving cream, draw the letter on someone’s back, air writing.
- Proper positioning is important. Both feet should be on the floor. Sit straight up (no propping head on elbows or placing head on the table when writing).
- Use the helping hand (non-dominant hand) to hold the paper while printing with the dominant hand. NO hands in the lap when writing.
- Repetition. Keep saying the verbal prompts when forming the letters. For example (F): Begin at the starting corner. Big line down. Frog jump up. Little line. Little line.
*** Practice the letters that are illegible or the child is not familiar with. Do not confuse the child by teaching them a new way to form “M” if they have already mastered it and the letter is legible. If it looks like an “M” that’s OK.
Help your child write with confidence
For parents of students in middle school… Writing is a part of students’ daily lives. It involves recalling ideas, vocabulary, rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Writing also means making use of strategies—like problem solving, brainstorming and creating ideas—while putting their thoughts on paper. Planning before writing is a good way to begin. Students need to learn that writing should not be a rush job, and that the processes of planning, thinking and organizing are just as important as the final product. Generating or brainstorming ideas Writing begins by answering a basic question: What do I want to say to the reader? To answer this question, the writer generates or brainstorms ideas. Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to generate ideas during writing:
- Provide prompts or story starters for your child if he has difficulty in selecting a topic. These can be paragraphs, scenarios, a sentence or a picture.
- Ask your child to brainstorm by drawing pictures, sharing ideas with family members, or dictating her ideas into a tape recorder.
- Use your child’s favourite books to inspire him to come up with ideas. For example, have him choose a favorite book and discuss where he thinks the author got ideas for the story.
- Encourage your child to keep an Idea Journal. She can list things that have happened to her, a timeline of big events in her life, funny or interesting news stories, and pictures from a paper or magazine, or a photograph she took.
- Have What if… discussions. For example, “What if you came to school and no one else was there?” or “What if you woke up one morning and your dog could talk?”
Organizing ideas Once ideas have been generated, they need to be organized. Here are some strategies to help your child develop the skills to organize ideas during writing:
- Give your child a list of ideas in the wrong order and have him identify or reorder the list in a paragraph. He can also do this with the ideas in a comic strip.
- Your child might benefit from using a tape recorder to “store” her thoughts by verbally discussing them on tape before she begins to write. She can then transcribe her dictation.
- Have your child use computer software programs that help him generate outlines and graph maps of his ideas, such as the Inspiration program.
- Provide specific age-appropriate strategies for your child to organize her work. For example:
- Think of a topic sentence
- Reasons to support topic sentence
- Examine reasons
- Suspend judgment (consider each side)
- Take a side (pick strongest argument)
- Organize ideas (strongest points, weakest, order)
- Plan more as you write
- Develop topic sentence
- Add supporting ideas
- Reject at least one argument for other side
- End with conclusion
Beginning to write For students who are having trouble beginning to write you can:
- Provide jump-starts for your child to help him begin homework or classroom assignments. For example, provide the first sentence of a paragraph he has to write.
- For larger scale writing assignments, have your child begin on the day it is assigned. Then, develop a plan for finishing the project by dividing it into “chunks” of work with deadlines and rewards.
- Encourage your child to start a homework session by planning what will be accomplished during the session. If necessary, help her develop objectives that are clear, specific and measurable (e.g., how long she will work, how long the report will be).
- Be aware that fears of doing a less-than-perfect job might be interfering with your child’s willingness to start assignments on his own.
- Some students need to practice writing every day, preferably in a format that is interesting to them. Encourage your child to keep a journal and write e-mails or letters to friends.
Monitoring your child’s progress Have your child self-monitor her own progress as she moves toward completion of tasks by using checklists, keeping logs, or marking progress on a graph. During larger scale projects allow him to delay judgments about the quality of his work. Allow a day or two to elapse between the writing of a report and re-reading the report for quality. Your child may require a list of questions to start the self-monitoring process. These can include:
- Am I clear on the point of the question/assignment?
- Do I understand how that connects to what I’ve already written?
- Who is the main character?
- When does story take place?
- Where does story take place?
- What does the main character want to do?
- What happens?
- How does story end?
- How does the main character feel?
Create a chart to help your child monitor the specific quality of her work. For example: Monitoring Dimensions of the Writing Process
|Number of ideas generated||Need more||Just enough||Too many|
|Quality of ideas generated||Poor||Okay||Great|
|Sources or resources used||Need more||Just enough||Too many|
Helping your child stay on track Sometimes your child may seem bored or lazy during writing tasks, and may have trouble concentrating on writing assignments. Students also become more restless when they have no time goals. You can help your child establish good writing habits by avoiding marathon sessions, which can overwhelm your child and encourage procrastination. Instead, schedule short writing sessions. For example:
- Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- Write until the timer goes off.
- Get up and move around for a couple minutes.
- Write for another 15 minutes.
Speak to your child about personal study habits, exploring how some students study well in the morning, some in the evening, etc. Emphasize that the key is setting a study schedule that fits your child’s personal style. Schedule frequent, but brief periods of activity, especially after difficult tasks. Encourage your child to take physical breaks, and to use stretching and walking around as ways to revitalize. Explain that such activities cause blood to flow more evenly throughout the body, and more oxygen to be carried to the brain, thus making us feel more alert. If appropriate, offer reinforcements when your child completes tasks. Let your child help you decide what works best. Encouraging your child to reflect on writing Encourage your child to ask questions that guide self-reflection:
- What went well today?
- Where or when did I get distracted or take the wrong path? What happened when I did that?
- What I will do the next time I get distracted or start to go in the wrong direction?
Dyscalculia (difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics) was originally identified in case studies of patients who suffered specific arithmetic disabilities as a result of damage to specific regions of the brain. Recent research suggests that dyscalculia can also occur developmentally, as a genetically-linked learning disability which affects a person’s ability to understand, remember, and/or manipulate numbers and/or number facts (e.g. the multiplication tables). The term is often used to refer specifically to the inability to perform arithmetic operations, but is defined by some educational professionals and cognitive psychologists as a more fundamental inability to conceptualize numbers as abstract concepts of comparative quantities (a deficit in “number sense”). Those who argue for this more constrained definition of dyscalculia sometimes prefer to use the technical term Arithmetic Difficulties (AD) to refer to calculation and number memory deficits. Dyscalculia is a lesser known disability, similar and potentially related to dyslexia and Developmental Dyspraxia. Dyscalculia occurs in people across the whole IQ range, and sufferers often, but not always, also have difficulties with time, measurement, and spatial reasoning. Current estimates suggest it may affect about 5% of the population. Although some researchers believe that dyscalculia necessarily implies mathematical reasoning difficulties as well as difficulties with arithmetic operations, there is evidence (especially from brain damaged patients) that arithmetic (e.g. calculation and number fact memory) and mathematical (abstract reasoning with numbers) abilities can be dissociated. That is (some researchers argue), an individual might suffer arithmetic difficulties (or dyscalculia), with no impairment of, or even giftedness in, abstract mathematical reasoning abilities. The word dyscalculia comes from Greek and Latin which means: “counting badly”. The prefix “dys” comes from Greek and means “badly”. “Calculia” comes from the Latin “calculare”, which means “to count”. That word “calculare” again comes from “calculus”, which means “pebble” or one of the counters on an abacus. Dyscalculia can be detected at a young age and measures can be taken to ease the problems faced by younger students. The main problem is understanding the way mathematics is taught to children. In the way that dyslexia can be dealt with by using a slightly different approach to teaching, so can dyscalculia. However, dyscalculia is the lesser known of these learning disorders and so is often not recognized. Another common manifestation of the condition emerges when the individual is faced with equation type of problems which contain both integers and letters (3A + 4C). It can be difficult for the person to differentiate between the integers and the letters. Confusion such as reading a ‘5’ for an ‘S’ or not being able to distinguish between a zero ‘0’ for the letter ‘O’ can keep algebra from being mastered. This particular form of dyscalculia is often not diagnosed until middle or high school is entered. Potential symptoms
- Frequent difficulties with arithmetic, confusing the signs: +, −, ÷ and ×.
- Inability to tell which of two numbers is the larger.
- Reliance on ‘counting-on’ strategies, e.g., using fingers, rather than any more efficient mental arithmetic strategies.
- Difficulty with everyday tasks like checking change and reading analog clocks.
- Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook.
- In some severe cases, the sufferer may have very bad co-ordination, causing them to fall or trip often.
- Difficulty with times-tables, mental arithmetic, etc.
- May do fairly well in subjects such as science and geometry, which require logic rather than formulas, until a higher level requiring calculations is obtained.
- Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time.
- Problems differentiating between left and right.
- Having a poor sense of direction (i.e., north, south, east, and west), potentially even with a compass.
- Difficulty navigating or mentally “turning” the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage.
- Having difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet away).
- Inability to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences.
- An inability to read a sequence of numbers, or rotating them when repeated such turning 56 into 65.
- Difficulty keeping score during games.
- Difficulty with games such as poker with more flexible rules for scoring.
- Difficulty in activities requiring sequential processing, from the physical (such as dance steps) to the abstract (reading, writing and signaling things in the right order). May have trouble even with a calculator due to difficulties in the process of feeding in variables.
- The condition may lead in extreme cases to a phobia of mathematics and mathematical devices.
Potential causes Scientists have yet to understand the causes of dyscalculia. They have been investigating in several domains.
- Neurological: Dyscalculia has been associated with lesions to the supramarginal and angular gyri at the junction between the temporal and parietal lobes of the cerebral cortex.
- Deficits in working memory: Adams and Hitch argue that working memory is a major factor in mental addition. From this base, Geary conducted a study that suggested there was a working memory deficit for those who suffered from dyscalculia. However, working memory problems are confounded with general learning difficulties, thus Geary’s findings may not be specific to dyscalculia but rather may reflect a greater learning deficit.
Studies of mathematically gifted students have shown increased EEG activity in the right hemisphere during algorithmic computational processing. There is some evidence of right hemisphere deficits in dyscalculia. Other causes may be:
- Short term memory being disturbed or reduced, making it difficult to remember calculations.
- Congenital or hereditary disorders. Studies show indications of this, but the evidence is not yet concrete.
- A combination of these factors.
Mitigative Strategies Although dyscalculia may be difficult to diagnose, there are strategies that teachers and parents should know about to aid students in learning mathematics.
- Encourage students to work extra hard to “visualize” mathematics problems. Draw them or have them draw a picture to help understand the problem, and make sure that they take the time to look at any visual information that is provided (picture, chart, graph, etc.)
- Have the student read problems out loud and listen very carefully. This allows them to use their auditory skills (which may be strength).
- Provide examples and try to relate problems to real-life situations.
- Provide younger students with graph paper and encourage them to use it in order to keep the numbers in line.
- Provide uncluttered worksheets so that the student is not overwhelmed by too much visual information (visual pollution). Especially on tests, allow scrap paper with lines and ample room for uncluttered computation.
- Discalculia students must spend extra time memorizing mathematics facts. Repetition is very important. Use rhythm or music to help memorize.
- Many students need one-on-one attention to fully grasp certain concepts. Have students work with a tutor, a parent, or a teacher after school hours in a one-on-one environment.
- If possible, allow the student to take the exam on a one-to-one basis in the teacher’s presence.
- The student might like instant answers and a chance to do the problem over once s/he is wrong. Often their mistakes are the result of “seeing” the problem wrong.
- In early stages, design the test problems “pure,” testing only the required skills. In their early learning, they must be free of large numbers and unnecessary destructive calculations.
- Allow more than the “common” time to complete problems and check to see that student is not panicking (tears in eyes, mind frozen).
- Most importantly, be PATIENT! Never forget that the student WANTS to learn and retain. Realize that mathematics can be a traumatic experience and is highly emotional because of past failures. The slightest misunderstanding or break in logic can overwhelm the student and cause emotional distress. Pity will not help, but patience and individual attention will. It is typical for students to work with until they know the material well and then get every problem wrong on the test. Then 5 minutes later, they can perform the test with just the teacher, on the chalkboard, and many times get all problems correct. Remember that this is very frustrating for the teacher/parent as well as the student. Patience is essential.
- Assign extra problems for practice and maybe a special TA (teaching assistant) or special education is assigned to assist the affected student.
- When presenting new material, make sure the student with discalculia is able to write each step down and talk it through until they understand it well enough to teach it back to you.
- Go over the upcoming lesson with so that the lecture is more of a review.
Technology And Resources The technology for remediating and accommodating persons with mathematics disabilities has not developed as readily as the technology for reading and writing. However, the technology, which is available now, can provide beneficial assistance for some problems. The limited technology can be of help, especially to those who have problems writing numbers down in the correct order. The most common currently available tools include the following:
- hand-held calculators that can help a learner who has problems writing numbers in the correct order
- talking calculators that vocalize data and resulting calculations through speech synthesis
- special-feature calculators that enable the user to select options to speak and simultaneously display numbers, functions, entire equations, and results
- on screen computer calculator programs with speech synthesis
- large display screens for calculators and adding machines
- color coding for maintaining columns
- big number buttons and large keypads
- textbooks on CD-ROM and video-taped mathematics lessons
Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) mathematics courses (instruction targeted to special students) are being developed. These are particularly helpful to the user with learning disabilities if the learning is reinforced with voice output. Here are some computer programs that may be helpful for mathematical learning.
Help your Pre-school child succeed in math For parents of students in primary school Mathematical literacy is important to the success of children. It is a language and children need to begin speaking it early in their development. Here are some tips on how you can help your child learn the language of math. A mathematical student:
- makes sense of mathematics
- looks for math patterns with numbers, shapes and operations (+, -, x, ÷)
- tries to understand and solve a problem in a variety of ways
- explains HIS thinking
Top 3 ways to show your excitement about math
- Share your enthusiasm for math – have fun!
- Discuss mathematical ideas with your child every day – ask a question a day.
- Be a risk-taker with your child.
Identify numbers in everyday life
- Count cards, houses, road signs, etc. on long drives
- Measure the distance from the front door to your child’s bedroom
- Add the kilometers on road signs
- Sort objects (e.g., socks, cutlery, money) beginning with one attribute (e.g., colour, size), then move to more than one attribute
- Identify the geometrical shapes in the objects in your house and neighborhood
- Time how long it takes to get ready for bed and estimate the passage of time to complete tasks
- Look for patterns in nature
- Use estimation in the grocery store to count produce or the cost of the family’s dinner
- Bake some muffins and ask your child to help measure the ingredients
Materials to use at home
- computer, software and Internet access
- things to count and sort (e.g., beans, marbles, buttons, pictures, blocks, egg cartons, stickers)
- math stories, picture books and puzzle books
- board games (e.g., chess, checkers, Monopoly), puzzles and logic games
- cards, number cubes, dominoes
Technology supports math Technology is global. It is a tool to be used in your child’s education. Surf the Internet with your child and explore the many websites that offer math learning opportunities:
You already know how important it is to spend time reading and working on math with your child. Finding math in children’s literature allows you to help your child develop important skills in both math and language at the same time. Here are some of the benefits:
- Math becomes a part of your bedtime routine.
- Your child will learn important math language.
- Children who love math may become more interested in reading.
- Children who love reading may become more interested in math.
- Math becomes part of your everyday life.
- You can make math and reading fun!
Find the math in a favorite book Sometimes the math is obvious, such as in counting and shape books. Interesting illustrations capture children’s imagination and open the door to a variety of activities. Books such as Ten in the Bed or Over in the Meadow encourage your child to start counting. Find a pile of objects that can be easily counted – books on a shelf, toys in a box, pennies in a jar, cans on a shelf. Let your child count in whatever way is chosen, which may be by ones, twos, fives or tens. Read The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds or The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and then go on a shape hunt. Have your child look for two-dimensional shapes (squares, circles) and three-dimensional objects (cubes, spheres). Songs, poems, chants and rhymes that relate to math are another enjoyable way to find the math in language. You may remember One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, The Ants Go Marching One by One, or Hickory, Dickory Dock. Teach these to your child and have fun “singing math” together! Look for patterns in songs and books. Many repeat lines or passages in predictable ways, allowing children to recognize and predict the patterns. Mortimer by Robert Munsch, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, and The Mitten by Jan Brett are examples of this type of patterning. Other books provide less obvious, but wonderful math connections. Look for books where the characters measure, count, use money, estimate and solve a variety of real life problems. You could discuss measurement after reading Big or Little by Kathy Stinson or Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan. Cooking with your child is another great way to develop your child’s math skills. In books such as Grandma and the Pirates by Phoebe Gilman and Road-maker’s Munch by Josephine Croser, recipes are provided at the end of the book. Think critically about math When a character in a book comes upon a math problem, such as how to share cookies in The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins, encourage your child to solve the problem before the character does. This promotes important math skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. Math lies within the pages of many books just waiting to be discovered! Read and enjoy!
For parents of Elementary Students When parents are involved in their children’s education, they will do better in school. Here are some tips on how you can help your child succeed in math. Be positive about math
- Help your child see errors as opportunities for learning.
- Share positive math memories from your past. It does not help to share negative experiences.
- Demonstrate an interest in math.
- Become familiar with the big math concepts that your child will be learning this year. Learn about the Ontario math curriculum at www.edu.gov.on.ca.
- Talk to your child’s teachers about what skills your child is expected to be proficient in by the end of the year.
Connect mathematics to daily life
- Ask your child to estimate grocery bills, change, tax, tips, measurements, traveling distances and times, or the quantity of paint of carpet needed for a room.
- Talk about the ways in which you use mathematics in your job and daily life, and about mathematics in the newspaper (e.g. sports statistics, stock prices, math puzzles, graphs).
- Seize every opportunity to calculate mentally and talk about the process involved.
Be supportive during homework
- Encourage your child to have a regular homework time.
- Ask your child what math homework has been assigned. Your child’s agenda can be a great tool.
- Encourage your child to write down a solution to each question—even if he’s not sure it is correct.
When working on problem-solving at home…
- It is more than finding answers to word problems.
- When your child is solving problems, discuss with her how to break problems up into smaller parts, make plans and judge the effectiveness of those plans, select tools to accomplish the plan, and prove and share her ideas.
- Use strategies with your child:
- make a list
- draw a diagram
- make a model
- guess and check
- find all the combinations
- use an operation (+, – x, /)
- simplify the problem
- use your own strategy _____
- Encourage your child to answer problems using pictures, numbers and words whenever possible.
- Model perseverance in problem-solving.
It is important that problem-solving strategies are talked about as well as practiced. Encouraging your child to explain his plan for solving problems helps to develop mathematical language and reasoning. Ask questions to guide your child when working on a problem. Here are some questions to help you guide your child when she is problem-solving:
- What are the key words in the problem and do we know what they mean?
- What strategy should we try first?
- Will __________ (suggest a strategy) help us to find a solution?
- What materials or tools should we use?
- How can we record our thinking?
- Is our strategy working?
- Have we found all the possible solutions?
- Is there a pattern in the answers we found?
- Have we clearly shown how we solved the problem and explained our thinking?
- Have we used mathematical language?
Practice the basic facts and mental math in interesting ways You can play family games to add excitement to repetitive practice. Be sure to talk about strategy. Some possibilities are:
- card games, e.g. cribbage
- board games, e.g. chess, backgammon
- computer games, e.g. Tetris
- car games, e.g. when traveling in the car, have your child use license plate numbers to do mental math
- ork with your child to create your own math game to practice the concepts that he is learning in class
Look for other sources for help Cool Math http://www.coolmath.com A student-friendly site that features games, math lessons, practice problems, and a math dictionary. It also includes useful ideas for parents. Get Smarter http://www.getsmarter.org An animated and interactive site that allows students to learn about math and test themselves while having fun.
One of the strongest factors that have been scientifically proven to predict student success in school is parental involvement. So today you have already taken the biggest step to helping your teen succeed in math just by showing an interest and finding out more information! Communication is always the key There are four main things to remember about communication: Communication at home Talk to your son about what is going on in his math class. Don’t just focus on the topics that are being covered, but also on how your son is feeling about the topics and his math skills in general. Often dislike is used to cover up discomfort. So if your son says he doesn’t like a particular topic it may be because he is having trouble with it, and could really use some extra help. Math is like a pyramid: securely learning the topics studied at higher levels requires a strong and broad foundation. If there are gaps in the foundation, it can lead to a shaky grasp of new material. It is never too late to go back and deepen your understanding of a foundational topic, like fractions. Everyone wants to do well, however we all need a little encouragement from time to time. Let your teen know that with a little help she can learn that stubborn math topic. Make sure that your son writes all the dates for quizzes, tests and assignments in his agenda. Every day when you look at his agenda you can record these dates on another calendar so that you can check in with him to see how he is progressing. Good communication There are all kinds of communication, but sometimes how something is said is more important than what is being said. Many people have strong feelings about math, and they are not always good. In general, be as positive about math as possible. A “can-do” attitude improves chances for success. Support doesn’t always have to be answering math questions. Showing interest and offering advice on work and study habits are also good ways to encourage your teen. Communication in the classroom One of the largest differences, besides all the technology and manipulatives, between a math class twenty years ago and one today is an increase in the amount of words used to solve a problem. Communication is a key focus in all of today’s math classrooms. This is, in part, because of the curriculum’s focus on real life skills: what good is it if you can come up with the answer to an everyday problem if you can’t explain it to anyone? Students are often not as successful as they could be because they communicate their answers poorly. When your teen does her homework, go over her answers together and look especially at the amount and quality of what she wrote. Ask her to verbally explain her answers to you in more detail. Then help her write out the more detailed explanations. Encourage her to use lots of words as well as diagrams, formulas, graphs, charts, and well set out calculations. Communication with the school Talk to your son’s teacher at the beginning of the semester. Let the teacher know that you want to keep informed about how your son is doing in math class. Give the teacher your contact information on a piece of paper. Include a daytime phone number and an e-mail address if possible, as a teacher often can easily send off a quick note to keep you updated on new developments. Encourage your daughter to talk to her teacher about her progress as well. Let your daughter know that you expect her to show an interest in her own progress, as her education is a group effort with her at the lead. Homework is… …the most important part of any mathematics program. Math is just like any skill, practice makes perfect. Nobody expects to be good at playing an instrument or a sport without practice. Homework should be done every day, even if all the assigned questions are already completed. Your son should be practicing his math skills at home on a regular basis by reviewing his notes, reading his textbook, and going over old questions and assessments, not just by doing the questions that were written on the board. Preparing for an assessment is not something that should only be done the night before. When your son habitually works backwards and looks forwards he will be able to take the “surprise” out of a surprise quiz since he will be in a perpetual state of preparedness. What a wonderful feeling that is! All kinds of levels Discuss your daughter’s short- and long-term goals. Her post-secondary plans will affect which math courses she will take in high school. There are three levels which lead down different paths. Being in the correct level will not only make her math class more relevant to her, but will also ensure that she can follow the path that she wants. And most importantly… No one can do well on an assessment that isn’t completed. Being there is the most important thing. Work done with technology or manipulatives, as well as investigations and cooperative learning, is difficult, sometimes almost impossible, to reproduce outside of the classroom. Also, a good night’s sleep, a good attitude and a good math set, along with a pencil, eraser and calculator are excellent things to have for math class. Being there and being on time ensures that your teen won’t miss out on the vital instructions and teaching points that are the key to reaching your teen’s full mathematical potential. For help: For free help with Math and Science, students can call the following number: 1-877-ASK-ROSE Free Math and Science Help for Indiana Students Grades 6 -12 www.ASKROSE.org
For parents of all age groups
What is mathematical literacy?
The OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 1999) defines mathematical literacy as:
an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded mathematical judgments and to engage in mathematics, in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s current and future life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen. (p. 41)
Mathematical literacy encompasses the ability to:
- estimate in numerical or geometric situations
- know and understand mathematical concepts and procedures
- question, reason and solve problems
- make connections within mathematics, and between mathematics and life
- generate, interpret and compare data
- communicate mathematical reasoning
Mathematical literacy also includes understanding the value of mathematics and having the inclination and the confidence to use it.
How do you help your child to be mathematically literate?
Everyone can learn math. First and foremost, believe in your child’s ability to learn mathematics.
Everyone can improve when provided with good teaching, coaching, encouragement and practice.
Do have high expectations for your child. Research shows that when you believe your child can learn, he will rise to the expectation.
Do talk with your child’s teacher about how you can help and support her mathematical development.
Do talk about mathematics in a positive way. Your positive attitude and valuing of mathematics are infectious.
Do share your day-to-day math experiences with your child, and discuss:
- video and computer games
- television shows, e.g. The Learning
- Books – “Counting on Frank” & ”Stormy Weather”
Do encourage personal responsibility for learning. Emphasize that effort is as important as ability.
Do talk with your child about the importance of homework. Encourage a regular time and place for completing homework. Even when homework has not been assigned, encourage daily review and practice of mathematics. Encourage your child to check the answers and ask for help when he is having difficulty.
Do support your child through homework by listening and asking questions:
- Allow your child to struggle through the process of problem-solving.
- Discuss mistakes as learning opportunities.
- Help your child by asking questions:
- What do you need to find out?
- Tell me what you know…
- Show me what you started…
- What can you try first?
- Can you make a drawing or picture?
- Will a list or table help?
Do encourage persistence. Some problems take time to solve. Taking
a break often provides fresh enthusiasm and alternative strategies.
Do build on your child’s strengths and what she already knows. Make links between math and daily life.
Do explore your child’s thinking process:
- Why did you…?
- What can you do next?
- Do you see any patterns?
- Does the answer make sense?
- Tell me in a different way.
- What would happen if…?
Do appreciate the value of not knowing and use these occasions as opportunities for growth rather than anxiety. Develop strategies and resources for getting help with problems.
Do provide help to your child with strategies, not answers. Provide as much support as is necessary, e.g. peer support or tutoring. Encourage a variety of problem-solving strategies:
- guess and check
- look for a pattern
- make a diagram or model
- act it out
- work backwards
- simplify the problem
- eliminate possibilities
- make a systematic list
- get advice or research
- sleep on it
Do invite your child to share his thinking and understanding – or lack of it – in a safe and relaxed atmosphere.
Do correct wrong answers in a positive fashion. The goal is to help build your child’s confidence and develop positive attitudes toward math.
The Myth of Ability Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child
Mathematics Assessment Myths, Models, Good Questions and Practical Suggestions
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Literacy Skills for Middle School Students
Help your teen develop literacy skills
For parents of middle and secondary school students
What is literacy anyway?
The dictionary says that literacy is…
- the quality or state of being literate,
esp. the ability to read and write
- a person’s knowledge
of a particular subject or field
UNESCO states that…
“Literacy is about more than reading and writing – it is about how we communicate in society…[It] takes on many forms: on paper, on the computer screen, on TV, on posters and signs.” (statement for the United Nations, Literacy Decade 2003 – 2012)
Examples of literacy are everywhere! Help your teen recognize and make personal connections to literacy in his daily life:
- computer literacy (using software)
- web literacy (surfing the Internet)
- digital literacy (cells, e-mail, MSN)
- visual literacy (graphics, text, TV)
- auditory literacy (radio, conversing)
- home literacy (routines, chores)
- community literacy (bus schedules)
- social literacy (manners, etiquette)
- work literacy (procedures, routines)
- curriculum literacy (school subjects)
Different text forms
Help your teen gain valuable reading skills by taking an interest in what she’s reading and discussing it with her.
Encourage him to practice reading as often as possible and be open to various text forms:
- text books
- novels (graphic/text)
- comic books
- instructions for building models
- product/food packages
- CD covers
- song lyrics/raps
Like reading, or anything else worthwhile the best way to help your teen improve her writing skills is through practice. Find fun ways to build vocabulary together such as: solving crossword puzzles, guessing the meaning of personalized licence plates, playing word games, analyzing song lyrics, etc. Encourage your teen to write as much as possible by creating a variety of different compositions:
- shopping lists
- wish lists
- trip itineraries
- letters to friends
How is your teen smart?
Every teen processes information differently and every teen is engaged and stimulated by different methods of presenting that information. Howard Gardner (“Multiple Intelligences”) places learners under 9 different categories:
Recognizing what type of learner your teen is will greatly help in choosing what material or strategies he will respond to, both at school and at home.
“Know your Child.”
Literacy Skills Through the Arts
For parents of students in junior and middle grade
Why the arts are important?
Education in the arts is essential to students’ intellectual, social, physical, and emotional growth. Through the study of music, visual arts, and drama and dance, students not only develop the ability to think creatively and critically, but also develop physical coordination and the ability to work both independently and with others. In addition, the creative and practical work encourages students to express themselves in both verbal and non-verbal ways, and can enable them to discover and develop abilities that can prove to be rich sources of pleasure later in life.
Communicating about and through the arts
The arts provide ways for students to communicate their thoughts, feelings and ideas about themselves and their world. Literacy skills for reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and representing allow them to learn about the arts and to share their new skills and knowledge with others through music, visual arts, drama and dance.
How you can support learning in the arts
Children learn best in the arts when they:
- create art and also view/listen to works from various historical periods and cultures
- make choices about their own artwork
- are helped to develop their special interests and talents
- experience a wide variety of art forms (dance, drama, music, visual arts)
- have opportunities to share their work with others
- attend a variety of professional arts events
- benefit from professional artists who visit their classroom and school
- have teachers and parents that participate in the arts
How to help your child
As a parent, you play an important role in supporting lifelong learning in the arts by:
- becoming familiar with the curriculum and classroom activities
- showing an interest in your child’s arts activities and projects in other subjects that require the application of arts skills
- demonstrating a positive attitude to the arts and recognizing your child’s artistic achievements
- taking your child to a variety of museums, art galleries, musical and theatrical performances
- providing time for your child to create spontaneously and imaginatively
- equipping a creative activity space at home where a variety of basic art materials are available
- talking to your child about his artworks and the processes he used to create them, rather than the final product.
- displaying her artwork and encouraging her to discuss it with you
- playing a variety of music in your home
- sharing your own positive experiences in the arts
Activities to help develop literacy through the arts
Develop reading skills by:
- introducing stories that stimulate an interest in more reading about artists, musicians, actors, dancers, history and different cultures
- introducing a variety of print forms including posters, scripts, charts and newspaper articles
- reading “out loud” as characters from stories, poems or plays
- examining or “reading” the illustrations from stories to see how they communicate and illustrate the printed words
- visualizing (creating an image) the text that is read
- reading review of various arts events
- using and reading representative symbols, graphics and notations specific to the arts (ex: music notation)
- using artistic vocabulary
Develop writing skills by:
- creating new stories, charts and poems
- using reflective journals to record personal responses related to arts activities
- encouraging a planning process before the creative arts experiences begin
- introducing new symbols, graphics and musical notations specific to the arts
- writing new lyrics to familiar songs
Develop speaking skills by:
- reading “out loud”
- thinking out loud when brainstorming a solution to an artistic problem
- role-playing characters and situations from fictional and non-fictional events
- retelling stories from a variety of sources
- talking about ideas with others when planning and creating artworks
- sharing personal responses about artworks and positive arts experiences
- discussing preferences and defending points of view when reviewing artworks
- encouraging feedback for improvement from listeners
- communicating feelings and emotions about specific musical, dramatic, dance performances and artworks
Develop listening skills by:
- listening to a variety of music in many forms and styles
- attending musical and theatrical performances
- planning and creating artworks as a member of a group
- interpreting “what was said” and “how it was said” in performances
Develop viewing skills by:
- studying the illustrations used to accompany fictional and non-fictional print materials
- applying critical thinking strategies for artworks including describing, comparing, analyzing, interpreting and evaluating
- developing criteria for selecting and evaluating print and multimedia images (e.g., posters, films, computer graphics)
- assessing the effectiveness of the decisions that were made when creating artworks
- paying particular attention to dramatic expression and body language
- interpreting emotion, feeling and meaning of movement in dance.
Develop representing skills by:
- developing characters and ideas from print materials through role-playing, visual arts and musical composition
- applying the elements and principles of art when creating visual arts, music, drama and dance works
- creating artworks that communicate personal thoughts, feeling and ideas
- interpreting the content from one artform into another (e.g., painting a mood suggested by a piece of music)
Storytelling Builds Literacy Skills
For parents of students in elementary and middle school
The art of storytelling impacts the development of communication skills that are critical to a child’s success at school. Storytelling encourages children to listen actively and analytically, improves verbal skills, increases imagination and visualization skills, and boosts comprehension and retention skills.
Begin with a familiar story
Use a story you already know or love—perhaps an old fairy tale or folk tale from your childhood. You can also begin with your child’s favorite picture book. For more ideas, visit the local public library and speak to a librarian in the children’s area.
Take turns to read and relate the story
Choose a quiet time and comfortable place to sit with your child. Read through the story once with your child. Then, take turns telling the story—without help from the book—to each other. Stay as close to the original as you can. Tell the story two, three or four times more. Discuss the details. For example:
- this is a story about…
- the main characters are…
- the events that happen in the story are…
The story will likely change every time it is told so don’t worry if you or your child forget some details. Repeat it as often as you like.
Activities enhance literacy skills
With some creativity, children will learn to listen actively and develop their own imagination. To help your child learn, read:
- and compare different variations of a story
- the same story over and over to learn it better /li>
- other tales with similar themes/li>
- information to research parts of the story/li>
- using different voices for different characters/li>
- aloud with a dramatic voice/li>
You can also try some of the following activities to encourage your child’s creativity. Ask your child to:
- talk about the various settings in the story and have him draw his favourite one
- discuss the events in the story and ask her to list them in the order that they happened
- illustrate a comic strip of the main events
- draw a picture story map and include all the
places that are mentioned in the story
- rewrite a story from the comic strip or story map
- label all drawings and maps
- think up a new ending for the story and ask him
to write it out
- list characters in order of appearance
- identify her favorite character and have her
draw the character
- think of a story he has heard before and write the story from memory
Develop analytical skills by digging deeper
With your child, draw a chart with six sections—who, where, when, what, why and how—and fill it out with information from the story. Talk about what problems came up in the story and how they were resolved.
Ask your child “what if…” questions. For example:
- what if it was you or me in the story?
- what if the story happened 100 years ago? today?
- 100 years in the future? Come up with some of your own.
You can also engage your child in a character analysis. Ask her to:
- identify the personality of one or more characters
- compare the character to herself—how are you the same and how are you different?
- retell the story from one character’s point of view
Tell stories to improve verbal skills
- Practice retelling the story.
- Find patterns or repeated words.
- Listen to someone else tell the story.
- Tell it again and again to everyone who will listen.
- Speak slowly and clearly.