A few weeks back, I was at a barbeque when the conversation turned to kids and math education. And I heard something that made me cringe: a caregiver told me she didn’t like the way math was taught at her grandson’s school.
When I hear this, my first instinct is to defend elementary math curriculum, and the teachers who teach it. (My second instinct is to explain that doing area models is really fun and useful once you get the hang of it—really!)
As the conversation progressed, I learned that this caregiver liked math and loved helping her grandson with his homework. But she didn’t know his math learning goals for the year, and that frustrated her.
Ron Mirr, who runs Scholastic’s family engagement division, will be the first to tell you that any caregiver can help support a child’s learning goals in the classroom. They just need a few tips to get them started.
Invite parents and caregivers to help reach their child’s learning goals
Teachers know the big math standards that students should meet each school year. But do parents and caregivers know these learning goals? Often, the big objectives are lost in translation between school and home.
Mirr suggests sharing with caregivers the major math or reading learning goals. He calls them the “Power Three” standards. That way, caregivers can partner with teachers to help support their child’s learning throughout the school year.
Open houses, parent-teacher conferences, or family math nights are great opportunities to share learning goals. Caregivers will walk away from these meetings with a clear understanding of the objectives ahead.
Looking for an example of how to talk about standards goals with parents? Mirr suggests watching this video of a real parent-teacher conference for ideas and guidance on how to communicate.
Clarifying math learning standards with caregivers
We know that there are a lot of discrete math topics to cover in grades 3, 4, and 5. Generally speaking, elementary math students should meet the following objectives:
- Develop an understanding of the meanings of multiplication and division of whole numbers through activities and problems involving equal-sized groups, arrays, and area models; multiplication is finding an unknown product, and division is finding an unknown factor in these situations
- Develop an understanding of fractions, beginning with unit fractions
- Recognize area as an attribute of two-dimensional regions
- Describe, analyze, and compare properties of two-dimensional shapes
- Develop understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and developing understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends
- Develop an understanding of fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers
- Understand that geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures, and symmetry
- Develop fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, and developing understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions)
- Extend division to 2-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system and developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations
- Develop understanding of volume
Do you have a suggestion or idea to share? Please shoot me an e-mail about it or if you want to learn more.
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