Illinois Council of Teachers of MathematicsA Parent Handbook to
Mathematics, Grades K-6
Compiled by Jackie L. Cox and Tom Lewis
A Letter to Parents
The education of our children is one of the most important tasks facing our nation. This is a task that requires the efforts of all responsible citizens of the United States.
Parents are often frustrated by not knowing enough about their children's math programs to help them or by not understanding the mathematics their children are studying. One of the major concerns of a parent is how can you help your child improve mathematics learning. The primary purpose of this handbook is to provide parents with some suggestions of things can do at home to help their child.
It is important to realize that the mathematics instruction your children receive may be very different from the mathematics instruction you received in your own school experiences. Mathematics in our schools is no longer just arithmetic and basic skills. Today, mathematics instruction is richer in problem-solving, reasoning, communication, and making mathematical connections with the real world.
As our children progress, it is essential that they develop an ability to visualize spatial relationships (geometry, measurement, patterns), to approximate (estimation and number sense), to interpret data (probability and statistics), to reason mathematically (logical thinking and reasoning), and to know why it is important to study and know mathematics.
Problem-solving skills include the ways in which people learn how to think about a problem using such strategies as looking for patterns, drawing a picture, working backward, working with a partner, or eliminating possibilities. When your child has a variety of strategies, this allows him/her different ways to start looking at a problem and relieving the frustration of not knowing how or where to begin. The more strategies your child has, the more confident he/she becomes and the more willing he/she is to tackle new problems. Your child will become a better problem solver and will be able to apply this talent for all of life's problems.
Hands-on materials include using concrete objects (blocks, beans, pennies, etc.) or manipulative materials and models to help you child understand what numbers and space means. These concrete manipulatives also help them understand and solve problems.
To help your child understand the importance of mathematics, it is necessary for parents to talk about mathematics and identify how it relates to all aspects of life at home, at work, and at play. Educators, parents and our children must understand that learning mathematics, as with all learning, takes hard work, discipline, and a commitment on the part of everyone to ensure success.