You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Features

  • Beauty without stress
    So you just moved into your new place. It could be an apartment. It could be a little cozy two-bedroom house just for you and your dog or cat.
  • ID'ing phobias in movies
    Elkhart resident Tony Seger is a full-time working dad who had a problem. His wife, Erin, has a fear of vomiting, scientifically known as emetophobia.
  • Weekend warrior: Home winemaker starts his own vineyard
    As executive vice president and general manager of Memorial Coliseum, Randy Brown is responsible for the overall management of the Coliseum as well as for attracting events to the facility.
Advertisement
Resources
KahnAcademy.com offers instructional videos, interactive challenges and assessments.
Starfall.com offers free resources for math and literacy, as well as games for students.
•Search Pinterest.com for craft and activity ideas to improve fluency.
•“Bringing Math Home: A Parent’s Guide to Elementary School Math: Games, Activities, Projects,” by Suzanne Churchman, features projects, games and activities children and parents can do together to increase their understanding of basic math concepts.
Homework tips
•Turn off TV and other electronics during homework time.
•Set a designated time for homework each night.
•Use the world around children to teach math. Look for opportunities throughout day to ask questions or pose problems.
•Parents can search the Internet to find help sites with specific methods.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
St. Joseph Central Elementary School second-grader Kimberly Vallow uses a number board to help solve an addition problem.

Help adds up

Tools, parents give students boost in learning math skills

Photo illustrations by Cathie Rowand | The Journa
Blocks and discs help children with addition and subtraction.
Photo illustrations by Cathie Rowand | The Journa
Fact families cards help with multiplication and division.

Trevor ate two apples. Dad ate five apples. Mom bought 10 oranges at the store. How much did she spend?

Math might be challenging for an elementary school student, but it can be just as daunting for a parent tasked with helping with homework.

“Content is being pushed on kids earlier and earlier,” says Adam Normand, math curriculum coordinator at Fort Wayne Community Schools. “It is a lot different than (when parents) went to school and different than the way we learned because the expectations have been raised nationally.”

Children can come home with work that includes new ideas, such as the lattice method for multiplication, where there might not be enough explanation and it can be hard to help, says Willa Kline, executive director of Educational Opportunities Center.

Kline encourages parents to talk to the teacher about a specific situation, and Normand says that textbooks are available online via a teacher’s classroom website. But the best thing a parent can do, Normand and Kline say, is to focus on arithmetic.

“One of the things that students struggle with is that they don’t have enough time to practice their math facts,” he says.

Math facts are math questions that a student should just know; 2 + 2 = 4, 9 - 3 = 6. These “basics” help students build a math understanding and are the building blocks of math, helping them move onto more difficult concepts.

Children learn math in a progression – from a concrete, visual way to a more abstract way. For parents, Normand says, “it’s critical … not to just give (children) numbers and symbols but to give them anything.”

“Be creative with what you already have,” he adds. “You don’t need these colorful cubes or plastic bears to learn how to count.”

Rocks, coins and toys are all examples of “manipulatives,” educational jargon for things kids can play with to understand a concept, that can be used to help a child add and subtract. Children move the objects around and see the answer. Games, such as bingo, and songs can help reinforce math facts. Rulers and tape measures are good for the measurement piece.

Kline suggests trying a variety of things to “help them focus on facts and use them. The more they see it in different ways, then hopefully something clicks.”

At the Educational Opportunities Center, which offers after-school tutoring for grades 2 through 12, students work on homework and then translate the concepts into a project. Recently, students watched weather forecasts and compared data to rate area meteorologists.

For something less involved, parents can use a trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to work on mental math. Children can add prices, count change. Kline says that even in an everyday setting, such as driving to school, there is an opportunity to practice math facts.

“How many blocks have we gone? We’ve gone this many more blocks. How many blocks have we driven total?” she models.

Normand says parents should encourage children to use mental math when completing problems like these. Using fingers is OK, but the student needs to move beyond visuals and master facts.

“Reinforcing multiplication, division, addition and subtraction can be a huge chunk of what parents do to support the children’s success in the classroom,” Normand says. “If they don’t get that, they will struggle in the classroom. Some students don’t have that fluency solidified early enough and struggle with their mathematic career.”

kdupps@jg.net

Advertisement