I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with parents this week to talk about math. This was a separate night set aside solely to meet with the parents of the students in my classroom. We have had all-school math nights in the past, but I like to get together with parents to talk in more detail about the goals I have for their children as well as the many ways they can help develop their children’s mathematical minds at home. I wanted to take the time to share some highlights from a fabulous night. I have also linked to various resources that may be of interest.
What are my goals for your child this year in mathematics? — Mathematical Literacy
I began answering this question–what it means to be mathematically literate. Overall, I feel parents have a good grasp of literacy as it relates to reading, writing, spelling, and communicating, yet they don’t know as much about what it means to be mathematically literate. This is not their fault, as so much time and focus is placed on communicating about reading and writing in the early grades, and I think math sometimes takes a back seat. The text, Balancing the Equation, is a great place to find the aspects of mathematical literacy clearly and concisely stated. I shared the following aspects of mathematical literacy as they relate to the second grade students in my classroom and gave examples of what each looks like in second grade.
- Procedural fluency
- Conceptual understanding
- Adaptive reasoning
- Strategic competence
- Productive disposition
I felt it especially important for my students’ parents to be familiar with these goals as so many are wanting to support what we do in the classroom at home. You can view a PDF of the slideshow I used here.
What does math instruction look like in your child’s classroom?
Equally as important in assisting parents in helping at home is having an understanding of what math looks like in our classroom. I overviewed how students are engaged in a guided math framework and what that entails, and we talked about some important math language we use in the classroom that students will undoubtedly use when they are working with math at home. Language such as…
- Power of ten
- Benchmark or landmark tens
- Visualizing or picturing
- Mistakes are powerful
Various tools that students use in class were also shared. A student may go home and tell his/her parents that he/she is picturing a ten frame or rekenrek in his/her mind when playing a basic fact game, so the parent/s will then know the tool his/her child is picturing. In addition, some of the tools are sent home in their child’s at-home math bag, so students need to be familiar with each tool.
How can I help my child develop his/her mathematical mind?
Finally, it was time to talk about the many ways parents can help support their children’s mathematical development at home. Again, Balancing the Equation is a phenomenal resource for teachers and parents, so I decided to use the K-2 suggestions given in the text, as they directly coincide what I believe to be important.
- Always talk about mathematics in positive ways.
- Find mathematics everywhere.
- Talk to your child about mathematics.
- Play games.
- Support lots of practice at home.
- Constantly ask your child “Why?” and “How do you know?”.
- Provide support when problem solving at home.
- Help your child develop automatic recall of basic facts.
Each was talked about in detail–with great emphasis placed on the importance of a child’s mindset and how it directly effects his/her success in mathematics. The following is a list of resources I post on my classroom website for parents.
What’s Your Math Mindset Quiz
At-Home Math Resources:
Advice for Parents from Jo Boaler
Parents Magazine – Math Games
Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics
Talking Math with Your Kids
*Would You Rather? Math
*Table Talk Math
*Prompts for a wide range of levels are given. Choose those best for your child.
At-Home Math Bags
Math game play and motivating activities involving math are what I recommend as home practice (homework, as most call it). Math games and activities are sent home periodically throughout the school year, and students are given at-home math tools bags to accompany the games and activities. In past years, I have had many parents comment about how much they appreciate this type of home practice that is motivating for their child and gives them something fun to do together that relates to learning. At-home math bags were passed out, and we talked about the contents of the bags and procedures for using them at home. Bags were prepped by an awesome parent volunteer. This year’s at-home math bags include the following:
- paper base ten tools (printed in three colors and bound with mini-binder clips)
- ten-sided place value dice and quiet mat (piece of fun foam)
- deck of number cards
- number words card
- 3, six-sided dice
- clear colored counters (2 colors)
- dry erase marker and eraser (polar fleece cut into squares)
- dry erase board (cardstock slid into a heavy duty page protector)
- clear page protectors (for protecting games and reusing activity sheets with dry erase marker)
- problem solving journal (white paper stapled together with construction paper cover)
- jumbo paper clips for spinners
- gallon baggie for housing games/activities sent home
Additional items will be sent home throughout the year based on need
Periodically, I send home games/activities. Any games/activities are used in guided math groups/rotations prior to sending them home.
- one page math games
- spinner games
- place value cube activities
- dice games
- card games
- word problems
Even though I do not require items to be brought back to school as evidence of home practice, I do ask students to set a goal for the number of times they will do some kind of at-home math each month. This is done on a calendar that is kept in a clear page protector in the front of home binders. Each student sets a goal at the beginning of a month and works to meet his/her goal. Parents initial practice days on the calendar as time goes on. Students then check in with me at the end of the month when I provide encouragement. Parents choose how they want to encourage and/or reward their child (if they wish to do so).
Goal setting is up to the family. They know best what days are busiest and know what is realistic. Practice can come in so many forms. The items that I send home for use with the math bag are not the only options.
The night was a success! All of the parents who attended spoke or sent words of appreciation afterward. I have a special group of parents that I cannot say enough how thankful I am for their time and support!
I would love to hear about what you do to partner with your parents on the “math front”.
All the best–