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Math for Moms and Dads

There are so many changes going on these days with math in the public schools that it's getting more and more difficult to know what is what.  New math programs seem to be introduced every few years; the language of math changes constantly, and the math our students are required to learn seems to bear no relationship to the math we learned in school.

There are also many resources available on the Internet that provide parents with  information regarding these issues. There are reports commissioned by a variety of Foundations that provide statistical evidence to support their contention that math education is in a steep decline. There are also resources that support the idea that math education has never been better positioned to teach  students the math they are going to need for a more rapidly changing world; the type of math that will help them adjust to and thrive through a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and ideas  than we've ever experienced before.

The primary purpose of this site is to answer parents' questions about the math their children are expected to learn in school.

Resources for Parents

NCTM - Help Your Child Succeed in Math

NCTM - Math and Literature

NCTM - Parents Share Math Help Tips

NCTM - Ideas for Helping Your Child Enjoy Math

NCTM - Working With Your Child's School

 

Frequently Asked Questions
 

1. To carry or regroup?
     I've been told I should no longer use the term "carry" when doing subtraction at
     home with my daughter. Now my daughter uses the term "regroup" which I just don't understand.
     The word "borrow" worked fine for me so why do we need to change to "regroup"?.
    
Answer

2. Counting or naming?
      My son David is in kindergarten. He really seems to like math but  keeps telling me, with much
      excitement,  that 6 take away 6 is 5. How can I help him see that it is really 0? He is so
      confident when he does it too.
   
  Answer

3. Reducing fractions? 
     At my son's 4th grade Open house last week his teacher told us the students were going to be
     doing a unit on fractions. She asked us if we could try to avoid using the word "reduce" when
     helping our children with homework. He said we should try to use the terms 'rename' or 'regroup'
     or the phrase 'another name for'. Does it really matter that much if we slip up and use the term
     'reduce"?
     
Answer

4. Memorizing facts?
     My daughter's third grade teacher wants her to memorize her addition and subtraction
     facts. She also says Wendy will have to memorize her multiplication facts when she
     gets to fourth grade. Is this all really necessary?
     Answer

5. Measuring degrees?

    My son asked me how an angle can be the same number of degrees next to the points as it is
    several inches, feet or even yards away from the point. He pointed out how the distance between
    the two lines gets bigger and bigger the further from the point you go. All I had for a response was
    "because it is" which satisfie4d neither he nor I.
    Answer

 

To ask a question related to elementary school mathematics send your question to Dr. Tim Whiteford at:  twhiteford @smcvt.edu (no space in e-mail address)