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How to Develop Excellent Mathematic Students
There was a time when the United States of America had some of the highest math scores in the world for 12th graders. A lot has changed since those days, and to help kids get back on track to be good. math students, parents have an important role to play. Parents can help develop many of the foundational skills needed for children to be successful in math when they go to school. Parents can do things that support the schools and hopefully the schools will do the rest.
In order to develop a student who has good math skills, parents must play a key role in the learning process. In addition to parents, teachers and other family members are very important to a child’s mathematical development. Elementary teachers and parents play the most important role in a child’s math development, especially from kindergarten through fourth grade. Time spent in school learning math or not learning math can never be replaced. Parents should make sure that the elementary math teacher is knowledgeable and a good teacher. Anything less could cause the children to suffer a huge loss. The teacher that parents should trust to teach their children math is someone who will challenge their child regardless of their age. In addition to challenges, the teacher must encourage children to strive. Children need to know that their teacher cares about them and is not just trying to work them hard. This teacher should believe in giving homework every night. Homework reinforces what has been taught and learned in class and gives parents and the teacher a chance to see if the child understands this information.
I have observed teachers who really challenge their students to achieve higher order thinking. These teachers take their students from second grade and teach them to add, subtract, multiply and divide using only their bran. We call this Mental Math. When I observed a second grade class that had its students mentally answer math calculation questions, I put my own son in that class. Shortly after enrolling, he too learned how to do mental math. From that moment on, math was my son’s best subject. Teachers can really make a difference and parents can help affect change.
The role of parents in the development of their child’s mathematics is very important and should start as young as possible. Teaching young children to count, add and subtract numbers in their head without pencil and paper can stimulate the brain to think mathematically. Parents can start the process by teaching children to count from one hundred to one hundred. Teaching children to mentally solve math problems should also be part of this process. They can start by asking simple math questions and move on to more difficult questions as the child gets older. Parents should continually ask children math calculation questions and give positive feedback when they answer. Children love receiving positive feedback and this encourages continued growth.
In addition to mental math activities, children should be given graded math workbooks to strengthen their math skills. Parents should keep these books and other subject content books at home for extra practice and homework. They can be purchased at bookstores, teacher supply stores, and department stores that sell school or office supplies. As children become more confident in their math skills, give them worksheets a grade above their current grade. Help them if needed, but when students are successful in higher level notebooks; your confidence will really improve. The seed will soon be planted and parents will be able to watch it grow.
A parent needs to know what level of mathematics and any other subject, therefore, that their child is performing each school year. When children enter kindergarten and the school recommends that children know their ABC’s and know how to count to twenty or any number, it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the child is ready before enrolling in the school. Also, when a child is in second or third grade and their child cannot add simple two-digit numbers, it is up to the parent to make sure their child gets the extra help they need to succeed. Parents cannot wait at school every time their child has an academic deficiency. Part of being a good parent is making sure your child performs at the correct grade level throughout their academic career.
Another strategy is to allow your child to spend time on the computer playing math games. The computer can be a wonderful resource that supports math and other subject area skills. There is software available that will measure a child’s level of math skills. Some of the software is developed in game format. Children will think they are playing a game, but they are actually learning math. Technology can be great, but I have to warn parents not to allow children to spend too much time unsupervised on the computer.
Another recommendation for parents is not to allow children to use calculators at an early age. Children need to develop their brains first to be able to do math calculations on their own. Constant use of calculators at a young age can stunt children’s mathematical growth. If children develop math skills by mentally thinking about the answer to simple problems, they will be better prepared for everyday life, such as shopping for groceries, balancing a checkbook, to name a few. For example, all children should learn their times tables by third grade. They must be able to repeat them, verbally, without using a calculator. Elementary school children who rely on the calculator for answers are creating math deficiencies, which could have a negative impact on their math development.
In addition to good teachers and involved parents, children should participate in extracurricular activities that support math. In the state of Michigan, students can join a club at their school that plays a game called Academic Games. This form of play is challenging for children. It helps them develop their academic skills as well as their math skills. Children can start playing these games as early as second grade. This form of play will teach children how to play the equation game, a form of algebra, at age seven. These skills are called Higher Order Thinking Skills. Children also compete at the local, state and national levels. The experience is invaluable. There are also other math games and clubs kids can join that will help develop skills and are fun. Parents should contact their local school district or state office of gifted and talented programs for this information.
Children can take classes from various organizations that will support their mathematical development. These organizations may offer classes in the summer or on weekends. Some of the classes can teach kids how to build robots, toy cars, toy airplanes, etc. These classes can be in the area of engineering, computer science or some other technical field. Classes can be taught at different colleges or universities in the area. This is a community outreach for colleges and universities, but children will develop social and academic skills that will carry over into their classroom and into adulthood.
When trying to develop good math students, all avenues should be tried. Parents can make further progress by allowing children to visit workplaces that use a lot of math. Children should be exposed to as many careers as possible. Careers in math and even science should be on your list of considerations. Parents should inform their children which careers require them to have good math skills.
Parents who are positively involved with their children and want the best for them will ensure that their children keep up with their math skills and succeed in school. The strategies used in this article are just a sampling of the many ways parents can ensure their child develops strong math skills. The first way to help a child develop good math skills is for their parents to be a positive and active participant in their educational journey.
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