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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Math

Tips for Parents: Talking to Your Child's Teacher About Mathematics
Sarah Picard

Over the past few years I’ve received several e-mails from parents who are concerned about their child’s progress in elementary level mathematics.  If you are reading this now, you may be one of those parents or advocates.  This how-to is for you.  It includes a few simple tips for parent-teacher meetings about mathematics. 

If you are concerned about your child’s progress, your first step should be to get educated about your state’s math standards.  National Standards can be found at the website for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Some district report cards are aligned with these standards while other report cards can be vague.  You will be well informed for your meeting with the teacher if you arrive already familiar with the standards at your child’s grade level.

Next you can ask the teacher to point out which areas of the standards are problematic for your child.  Ask if you can see samples of the child’s work so you can better understand the standard(s). 

After that, you can ask how much time is devoted to mathematics, and how much of that time is devoted to standards in which your child needs support.  Will this standard continue to be represented in future lesson plans?  If not, are there additional services or support groups available during the school day to support children in mathematics?  Are there activities and games from the curriculum your family can play at home to help support your child? 

(If you are looking for some fun games to help support your elementary-age child at home, you might turn to the following resources:
Beyond Facts and Flashcards: Exploring Math with Your Kids
A description of this text is at http://terc.edu/work/612.html and the book can be purchased at http://heinemann.com/)

Finally, you will want to stay in touch with your child’s teacher and build alliances to support your child’s mathematical development.  Ask if you can meet again in six weeks to discuss progress on the plan you create together.

See also Helpful Tips for Your Students’ Parents by Sarah Picard

Do you have suggestions or questions about this article? Send me an e-mail.


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