By Deborah Williams
An interesting series of articles by the author of The Trouble With Boys and The Good School, Peg Tyre, director of strategy for the Edwin Gould Foundation, have been posted on the Take Part website. Tyre’s series focuses on advice for parents about what to consider when choosing a school for their children. One article, “When You Pick a School, Remember That Math Matters,” asserts that parents should look for certain qualities in their children’s math teachers to help their students become successful in math.
Here are some things for parents to consider when looking for good math instruction for their children:
- Preschool math programs should include plenty of counting of fingers, toes, Cheerios, and ducks in the pond.
- Kindergarten and first grade teachers should be discussing and developing hand-on games that rely on understanding numbers and their sequence, volume, mass, proportion and measurement.
- By the middle of first grade, children should be able to work out simple algorithms (You know, 2 +2 = 4).
- When touring the school, Tyre suggests looking for the following behaviors among the school’s teachers:
- An appreciation for all that kids can learn about math early on—and are finding ways of integrating math concepts into the curriculum and
- A healthy respect for the role memorization has in math facts. (There is a big body of research that suggests that kids need automaticity when it comes to things like multiplication.) Ask them to describe the balance between “conceptual math” and “rote learning” in their classroom (hint: there needs to be both).
- Assigning an appropriate amount of math homework
- Look for a positive attitude from the teacher about teaching math by asking the teacher if she or he likes teaching math. Even if it is not the teacher’s favorite subject, the teacher should view it as extremely important and that it requires practice.