Homework Tips for Parents

Homework time is a major source of stress in some families. Here are some tips for optimizing homework time so students and families can prosper and harmony in the home can continue. Provide a space for homework to take place. Your student needs a desk or table space for writing as well as proper lighting to prevent eyestrain. If space is limited, get a laptop desk. Some lap desks include a handy storage compartment for pencils and other supplies. Keep a stash of office supp!ies in the house. You do not want homework delayed while you run to the store for graph paper or colored pencils. Eliminate or minimize distractions. Take phones and games to recharge during study time. Turn off the television. If music or earplugs help your child, go with what works for them. Perhaps parents could also use this time for reading or other quiet work, setting an example for the child. Remember homework is a student responsibility. Answer an occasional question, but give your student the chance to struggle and reason out problems independently as much as possible. If the student consistently seems to have hours of homework or great difficulty, schedule a conference with teachers to understand the problem. Develop a game plan to address problems with comprehension, organization, or processing speed.

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10 Great Books for Elementary Students

Elementary Students should be encouraged to read for pleasure. Building reading skills is not drudgery when the books are excellent stories or poetry. Young Readers (Grades 2-4) The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel is a collection children will want to read for themselves. Simple language is combined with truly interesting stories about a pair of friends. Amelia Bedelia […]

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8 Tools for Math Class

Math teaching is more effective and enjoyable with the right classroom tools. Try these eight for starters: Whiteboard Compass Circles are one of the most useful geometric shapes in the math classroom. Draw perfect circles for pie charts, polar coordinates, or Venn diagrams. Simply insert a dry-erase marker in the foot-long tool, set to desired radius, and draw. Use a […]

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5 Creative Ideas to Make Math Class Interesting

Math classes can get stuck in a dull routine unless teachers work to keep things fresh. Keep teaching those important fundamentals, but mix it up to keep students on their toes. Let Students Struggle Americans tend to think if students struggle, that means something is wrong. The Asian view is that the struggle is an important part of the learning process. An athlete lifts weights (struggling at times) to become stronger. Give math students some brain teasers or some problems from a more advanced textbook. Challenge them to see what they can come up with—and what questions they need to answer or skills they need to learn. Game Show Time! Make a simple Jeopardy or Concentration board for students. Use this to drill math vocabulary, multiplication facts. Match the items that are equivalent, such as x to the zero power and 1, or 1+3 and 2+2. You may also make BINGO cards to use while the caller reads math problems and students look for answers. Play With Blocks Why not use real blocks to visualize surface areas and volumes? While holding a cubic foam block, it is easy to see that it has 6 square faces. Let students build structures, then compute the volume of the structure. Paper Models Printable nets for polyhedra are available online. Students can cut them out and tape them together to get a better idea of how polygons combine to form 3-D forms. Older students […]

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5 Tricks to Help Kids Learn Math

Math facts need to be automatic before students can move on to master higher math. Use a variety of means to help students commit those fundamentals to memory. Let Students “Teach” Mix things up by letting a student show the class flash cards, ask for the answer, and check it for accuracy. Elementary students may enjoy being “in charge” and those who ask the questions will also learn the facts as others who answer those questions. Mixed Media Offer students different art supplies to use while writing multiplication tables or addition facts. Even the dullest drill is more fun with colored chalk or crayons or markers. Use sidewalk chalk to make a giant multiplication table outside. Students may also enjoy using small whiteboards and markers at their desks. Ask parents to send in an odd sock for each student to use as an eraser. Whiteboards eliminate paper waste and let students practice over and over. Labels Make up labels with math vocabulary or formulae and let students place them on appropriate objects in the room. For example, a clock is labeled “circle” while the door is a “rectangle.” Add the formula for computing the area of each. Wall Art Posters and bulletin boards are passive methods of teaching that keep information before students’ eyes. Look for interesting visuals or let student do the work for you. They can cut out shapes or make neat numbers to place on a bulletin […]

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Teach Kids to Tell Time

Telling time is an important skill for all children to master. Punctuality depends upon knowing what time it is. Here are some suggestions for helping students understand. The Judy Clock The Original Judy Clock (trademarked) is an unbeatable tool for teaching relationships between minutes, seconds, and hours. Real gears ensure the integrity of the relationships as the clock’s hands are […]

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How to Become a Better Math Tutor

The best teachers never stop learning. Here are some resources to help you become an even better tutor or teacher. The “Asian” Method Arvin Vohra gives an overview of his philosophy and methods of math tutoring in his book, The Equation for Excellence. Many of his ideas run counter to conventional wisdom. Agree or disagree with him, but let him make you think about why you teach the way you do. He includes information about preparing students for high scores on SAT math tests as well as information on motivating boys versus girls. Prepare to be challenged. Look Internationally for Ideas Check out this analysis of lessons presented in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Perhaps some of your students could benefit from a fresh approach. There is always something to learn about teaching. One lesson to learn from the Japanese, for instance, is professional development. Teachers work together to perfect a lesson on a specific topic, watch a teacher present the lesson to a class, then work to improve that lesson yet again. Never be complacent. Challenge Yourself Try learning a new academic skill yourself. Remember what it was like to not yet know the math you now teach. Pick up a book on astrophysics, philosophy, or even basket weaving. Let yourself feel “lost” for a bit. Then go back to your students with fresh empathy for their struggles. Get Feedback from Students Be sure students feel free to […]

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Measurement Activities and Games

Measurements are important in so many daily activities. Give students a variety of practice opportunities so they learn accuracy. Volume Gather a variety of containers of different shapes and sizes. Let students rank each container from smallest amount to largest amount. Then fill the largest container, pour it into the next largest (be sure to do this over a basin […]

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