Thursday, August 07, 2014

School Year Warm-Ups: Math Smart

Dear family members, camp counselors, and child care workers,

Many helpful links are available on this website.
Now that the school year has started or is right around the corner, what can you do to prepare your children for the math year ahead?

  • First, do an attitude assessment--have you told your child you can't learn math. If so, change that attitude right now. Studies show we can all learn math, and there's no truth in those old myths about some being able to learn math and others not able to learn math.  Yes, some will have to work harder to reach success, but learning math is within everyone's grasp. So dispel the old myths about math, embrace the beauty that math holds, and give your child a positive attitude towards math learning.
  • Next, access technology. Computers are inexpensive, and are probably one of the most important long-term investments you'll make for your child's education. Go out and buy a computer that has Internet access. If you can't afford a computer, talk to school personnel as perhaps there's a way to finance one. There are also computers available in most libraries, and often schools are willing to let students stay afterschool with parental support to use computers.
  • After that, make sure you have WIFI.  The federal government has waged a deal with WIFI providers for affordable WIFI. Watch this video to learn more:
  • Then, try out these games and programs to boost your math ability. Sit down with your child and explore the games together. Decide which ones you like, then make a menu for math practice game playing.
  • And, build your child's fluency with facts.  Get those facts as solid as you can with games, flash cards, making posters, and more. The better your child's basic facts knowledge is the more able he/she will be able to move ahead with higher level math concepts.
  • Also, notice math in nature and the world you live in. Talk about math by wondering how many, what size, comparing/contrasting, and looking for shapes and angles.
  • Read math books--there's lots of fun picture books in the library that include math concepts. Just ask the librarian for help.
  • Cook with your child. Let your child read the recipes and measure the ingredients. 
  • Play math board games. Yahtzee was the reason I was so facile with math facts. My cousin Judy and I played this game endlessly every summer.
  • Work with money. Open a bank account. Find all the lose change in the house and bring it to a machine. Have a lemonade stand (in a safe place). Cut and use coupons. Make a money plan for the year ahead with respect to allowance, savings, and little jobs.
Most of all make it fun!  Math can be lots of fun, and if teachers and family members work together to dispel the old negative notions about math, we'll better prepare all students to succeed in this area with skill and engagement. 

We now live in a world that's dependent on mathematical thinking in almost every profession and discipline. Deep understanding and ability in math will help all children succeed.

What other ideas do you have for building competent, successful math students?  I'm open to your ideas, and thanks for your help!