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Parents - Tip Sheets - Help you elementary child succeed in math

Math is more than coming up with the right answer

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
• Express confidence in your child’s ability to succeed in 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.

Stay informed
• 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
• dominoes
• car games, e.g. when traveling in the car, have your child use license plate numbers to do mental math
• work 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.

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