by: Eileen McCloskey and Virginia Lenherr
Learning math is like building a pyramid. Math skills such as counting, addition, subtraction etc. are the foundational building blocks that make up the base. Early awareness of a potential problem is key. Math is very much like sports or music. It is a skill that needs practice. Just as an athlete relies on “muscle memory” so does the brain rely on past learned experiences. As any good coach would say to those they instruct, “Praise the specific effort.” Making mistakes is a necessary part of the journey for every learner.
There are many simple ways to add math into your daily life. Listed below are just a few ideas in helping your child build their math skills at home.
- Explore math in every-day life. Counting out forks when setting the table, pouring from a gallon of milk, or telling the time when his favorite TV program begins. One missed skill in our digital age is the reliance on digital-clocks vs the old analog style clock. Give your child the opportunity to be ahead of their class by teaching them to tell time with the old dial clock. When children realize that math is all around them, they begin to relax and see its meaning in their lives.
- It is important to explain that math applies to real-life situations. Your child will be more interested in mastering math if they realize its value.
- Ask thoughtful math questions while waiting in everyday places. For instance at the pizza parlor, do you think ½ or ¼ of a pizza is bigger? Draw a picture on your napkin. How many people do you think are in this room?
- When working on homework assignments, begin each math homework session by asking your child to explain what they need to do for homework. With their response, you will know if they can complete the assignment alone or if they need help.
- While working on homework, it is important to be around. You may need to refresh their memory or explain forgotten concepts.
- Encourage your child to write clearly and neatly. Writing on graph paper will improve their number writing formations.
- If your child is able to answer a basic math question within three seconds, they have mastered the concept.
- Make sure your child understands the concept being presented not simply memorizing rules. Do take time to review vocabulary terms to ensure they are able to define the skill that they are learning.
- Encourage your child to put the calculator down. Computing math problems mentally will reinforce concepts more quickly.
- When completing word problems together, suggest they read the problem aloud and draw a picture of each problem. Encourage your child to explain the problem – solving process. You will be able to understand their reasoning.
Eileen McCloskey M.Ed. is a certified Reading Specialist who has been employed with CORA Services for 26 years. Ms. McCloskey holds a triple certification within the areas of: Reading Specialist, Special Education Teacher as well as Elementary Education Teacher. Prior to working at CORA, Eileen worked as a Resource Room Teacher for various Public and Private schools in and outside the City of Philadelphia. Eileen has also provided remedial educational services to several schools in the Philadelphia area. In 2015, Eileen was assigned as an assistant to the Educational Coordinators, and has mentored several new educators, explaining the required tasks of a CORA educator. Eileen has also implemented a report card for educators to use when evaluating progress within the academic subjects of reading and/or math. Eileen treasures her mission of helping others both children and colleagues alike.