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Seven Things Every Parent Can Do To Improve Their Child’s Success In Math
by Dr. Linda Rodgers
If you were to single out the one subject that discourages children AND also sets the stage for their success for years to come, what curricular subject comes to your mind? So many of our children today are discouraged by that four-letter “m word” – MATH! According to PF Kanter (1994), The United States is the only advanced industrial nation where people are quick to admit that “I am not good at math.”
Life is all about attitude. Instilling a positive attitude in our children in all areas of their lives is critical to their developmental success. Having a good attitude means having more fun - so let’s make math more fun and accessible to our children. Albert Schweitzer tells us that we should teach by example. Educational research also shows us that children learn best by imitation, games and by example. With these ideas in mind, here are seven things you can do to improve your child’s success in math.
1.Music Lessons/Exposure to Music
Brain research is now telling us that early exposure and stimulation are the most critical factors in a child’s future learning potential. Studies have shown a positive effect between early musical training and a child’s brain development. It has been suggested that it can have a positive effect on a child’s academic achievement, especially in the area of mathematics.
Good mental stimulation in the first few years of life can increase a child’s IQ by up to 20 points (Beck, 1996). Research has found that the corpus callosum was significantly larger in musicians who trained from an early age than non-musicians (Shreeve, 1996).
The positive effects of early musical training are also showing themselves in the College Entrance Examination Board test. Students who had music appreciation classes and music performance classes scored on an average of 56 points higher on the verbal portion and 43 points higher on the math portion than students with no musical experience (Mahlmann, 1996).
Music also fosters creativity, imagination, cooperation, flexible ways of thinking, discipline, better concentration and self-confidence; all of which are invaluable to college entrants, no matter what their intended course of study. Music should be thought of as an investment in a child’s future and a required integral part of every child’s education – not an extra curricular activity for the chosen few.
2.Recognizing Math Vocabulary in Everyday Events
Take time to point out math situations and especially math vocabulary in print in your everyday lives. Start with the breakfast cereal box and read the ounces and servings on the box. Open a bank account for your child and teach them how to make deposits, count money, balance a checkbook, sort and classify. While at the grocery store talk about what you see on package labels and point out the abbreviations for ounce, pint, quart, gallon and pound. There are endless teaching opportunities throughout the course of a day to reinforce math vocabulary and skills.
3. Form a Close Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher(s)
Let teachers know you support them. Volunteer to help out on a weekly basis, if possible. If this is not feasible, then sign up to go on a fieldtrip with your child’s class or ask the teacher if there is anything you can help out with at home – like cutting out art materials. Also, ask the teacher for activity suggestions for you and your child to do at home to help improve and reinforce your child’s understanding of schoolwork. Parents and teachers should work together to benefit students.
4. See What’s In Your Local Teachers Store
Teachers stores are not just for teachers. They are a great resource for parents, as well. They carry many supplemental materials/games for home to help reinforce what is being taught in the classroom. Look in your phonebook under “School Supplies” or check the Internet for local listings. Take your child with you. Both of you will have a wonderful time exploring fun activities that you can do together.
Cooking is all about math - and what a great way to spend some quality time with your child. Make chocolate chip cookies together. Have your child help you with dinner, all while throwing in a pinch of math. Here are some examples:
Have your child help read the recipe – In step 7 of this article you will read about the importance of math vocabulary exposure. This is a perfect opportunity.
Math mastery is all about being able to apply it to everyday life. Cooking is one of the best opportunities to achieve that mastery.
6. Always Have a Positive Math Attitude
Never say things like, “Our family is just not good at math.” Children are like sponges and will also adopt that attitude. In her writing, Math: Facing an American Phobia, Marilyn Burns says, “Math is a phobia right up there with snakes, public speaking and heights.”
Do you personally find it easier, harder or about the same to help your
children with math homework as with other subjects? (38% of parents
What kept you from helping in math? (The number one response was, “I
was never very good in math.” 42% of
7. Vocabulary Flashcards
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