Welcome to Chapter 5 of our Balancing the Equation book study blog hop! If you haven’t already, get yourself a copy of Balancing the Equation: A Guide to School Mathematics for Educators & Parents by Matthew R. Larson & Timothy D. Kanold. It’s a MUST read!
Summary: Chapter 5 – How to Help Your Child Learn Mathematics
Fittingly, the chapter begins with this quote, “While all parents want to find ways to co-educate their children, not all parents know how to do this.” (John Hattie – Professor of Education, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute) Chapter 5 is designed to help students do just that.
One of the most important parent behaviors suggested by Larson and Kanold is to ALWAYS talk about mathematics in positive ways. This can be difficult when adults do not always have positive experiences and memories of math themselves, but it MUST be done. How can parents do this?
- emphasize that mathematics is an important life skill
- communicate a positive “can do” attitude and message about mathematics
- encourage their child to try hard to learn strategies for problem solving that will in turn help him/her to be successful
The authors go on to stress how important it is for parents to learn about their child’s mathematics class. This can be done by asking two important questions:
How will mathematics look in my child’s classroom? Understanding how mathematics is done will help parents become advocates for the instructional strategies that were outlined in Chapter 4. Parents should also keep in mind that how they learned mathematics may not be how they can best help their child. A series of 7 questions are suggested to help parents determine if these instructional strategies are priority. Each question relates to one or more of the methods for effective teaching and learning in mathematics (from Chapter 4).
Is my child/’s…
- expected to know both essential arithmetic skills and the mathematical concepts at the foundation of these skills?
- doing more than arithmetic and basic facts?
- striving to achieve high standards and being assessed regularly to determine his or her progress?
- solving challenging problems to learn new mathematics ideas, concepts, and skills?
- working with other students?
- knowledge and understanding evaluated in different ways?
- learning to use technology appropriately?
How can I help my child with mathematics practice at home? The authors provide at-home suggestions for parents of preK-5 , middle school, and high school children.
PreK-5: Specific suggestions are given for each of the following ways parents can support their child at home.
- help their child develop automatic recall of basic facts.
- play games.
- provide support with problem solving.
- find mathematics everywhere.
- monitor their own attitudes
- support lots of practice at home
- talk to their child about mathematics
- constantly ask their child, “Why?” and “How do you know?”
Middle School: It is important for parents of a child at this level to encourage him/her to persevere with the practice that is sent home, provide a good place for practice, and to check on him/her periodically while practicing. The authors also include a wonderful list of questions parents can ask to help their child think about what was learned in class as it relates to the practice at hand. Such questions include, “Can you show me the strategy you used to complete the problem?, “Does your answer make sense to you?”, “Is there online help available…”, etc. Parents of a child at this level also may/may not understand the mathematics their child is doing, so sources such as the Internet and fellow students can be helpful.
High School: Parents of a child at this level should be aware of expectations and standards just as in earlier grades. Support at home comes in the form of making sure their child is on time and in school each day, partnering with the teacher immediately if their child shows signs of struggle, and volunteering at school when possible. The authors also suggest asking lots of questions and seeking help from their child’s school if need be. Even if parents’ knowledge of mathematics is surpassed at this level, they can still be advocates to ensure their child’s success in mathematics.
Implications & Putting the Wheels in Motion
While Chapter 5 is devoted to parents (with some Reflections for Educators periodically within), there are great implications for teachers working with students every day. Stop to ask yourself, “How would I answer the questions suggested for parents to ask in this chapter?” “Are the instructional methods for effective mathematics teaching and learning (addressed in Chapter 4) present in my classroom?”
I have been teaching for 23 years, and I can count on one hand the number of times a parent has asked similar questions to those suggested above. We may have very few who do ask, BUT I believe sharing the answers to each of these questions should be done anyway—whether it be at parent-teacher conferences, Meet the Teacher Night, Family Math Night, on our classroom websites, and/or in a flyer sent home. Because, after all, how many of our parents will read this book? Maybe we should pretend like every one of them has!
Please feel free to share your thoughts, wonderings, calls to action, and/or reactions by leaving a reply at the end of this post.
AND don’t forget to join us again tomorrow for the final installment of our book study blog hop with Lucy at Kids Math Teacher. I hope you’ve found the book to be thought provoking and inspiring!
- Kids Math Teacher – Table of Contents, About the Authors, and Introduction
- Evil Math Wizard — Chapter 1: Why Mathematics Education Needs to Improve
- The Math Spot — Chapter 2: A Brief History of Mathematics Education
- The Research Based Classroom — Chapter 3: The Common Core Mathematics Debate
- Math Coach’s Corner — First half Chapter 4: The Equilibrium Position and Effective Mathematics Instruction
- LIVE WEBINAR with Matthew Larson (register here)
- The Recovering Traditionalist — Second half Chapter 4: The Equilibrium Position and Effective Mathematics Instruction
- Adventures in Guided Math — Chapter 5: How to Help Your Child Learn Mathematics
- Kids Math Teacher — Epilogue, Appendix, and Recap
Thanks so much for joining us on this book study journey!
All the best–