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Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics

A Parent Handbook to
Mathematics, Grades K-6

Parent Handbook
   What to Look For
   Most Important Teacher
   Mathematics in Daily Life
   Helping with Homework
   Why Modify the Curriculum
   Shifts in Math Education
   Math Web Sites & Resources
   The Magic of Math


Originally compiled in 1999 by
Jackie Cox and Tom Lewis

Revised 1/5/2015
Poly Hill and the
ICTM Board of Directors

A Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

The education of our children is one of the most important tasks facing our nation. In June of 2010 Illinois adopted the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to provide a single set of clear standards for Math K-12. With students, parents, and teachers all on the same page and working together for shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from school prepared to succeed and build strong future for themselves and the country. The New Illinois Learning Standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in both college and work. (Realizing Illinois 2013 Illinois State Board of Education)

Parents are often frustrated by not knowing enough about their children’s math programs to help them or by not understanding the New Illinois Learning Standards content that is the focus for their children’s grade level. The strengths of the New Illinois Learning Standards allow parents to know what is expected of their children at each grade level. Standards give parents specific information when talking with teachers during the school year. Standards assure parents their children have access to the same high-quality education as other students in Illinois and in other parts of the country. And finally, parents will know that their child is learning skills and knowledge to be successful in the 21st century. The Illinois PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and the Illinois State Board of Education have co-branded the Parents’ Guide to Success which is a series of brochures for each grade level designed especially for parents. They are available to download in English and Spanish in the “Parent Resources” section at

Problem-solving skills are an important part of your child’s mathematics education and 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 develops the habit of persevering even when a solution is not immediately apparent. 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 be come a better problem solver and will be able to apply this talent for all of life’s 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.

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics



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   of Teachers of Mathematics