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What Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Know (and Do) about Math

“Parents have the unique opportunity to show students math in the real world … This is so vital in not only forging connections for students, but also showing them the importance of math in their lives.”

– Harley S., Special Education Teacher
DreamBox Contributor

Harley is right—you are your child’s best secret weapon for effective learning. If that sounds a little intimidating, I’m right there with you. But now that school has started, you have a great opportunity to understand exactly what your child needs from you this year.

I’m talking about Back-to-School Night, where teachers meet with parents and guardians to outline the year’s curriculum, learn more about each student on a personal level, and try to establish a strong partnership to help each child succeed.

If your experience has been like mine, these meetings are a whirlwind, with lots of information being shared very quickly in both directions. By the time I get home, I sometimes worry I’ve overlooked answers to the most important question of the evening: 

How can I, as a parent, help my kid succeed?

It’s a universal question and one that has real-world implications. When parents are involved and reinforce what their kids learn at school, they do better—not just on the next test, but in life. But the question is what exactly should a parent be doing?

We decided to ask some experts: the educators themselves. DreamBox has built an online community of 20,000 teachers nationwide to provide a forum to ask questions, share ideas, and harness the power of collective brainpower.

We call the community DreamBox Nation, and when we asked teachers, “What can parents do to support math learning inside or outside the classroom?” their answers fell into five key themes:

Show them how and where math is part of everyday life. The more kids see math at work in the things they experience every day, the easier it is for them to learn and apply the concepts.

Math is literally everywhere! Have your child help with measuring while cooking dinner, count change when shopping, have them count the number of signs they see while driving! It’s the repetitive practice of foundational skills that helps keep them sharp!

Terese W., Media Specialist
DreamBox Nation Contributor

Get involved with your child’s homework every day. When parents review homework, ask questions, and help guide problem solving, they aren’t just helping their child finish an assignment. By their very time commitment, they’re showing how much they believe in the importance of math.

Use the materials we send home to practice skills and play games with your child… Create a nice workspace so that they have a designated area at home with their supplies to complete homework and be in “study” mode while in that area. Help your child stay organized with their papers and notebooks at an early age so they develop good organizational skills young.

Cynthia P.
DreamBox Nation Contributor

Be positive and encouraging when your child struggles. Your child will probably experience productive struggle while learning math, and more than likely you did, too. Be careful you don’t handicap your child with your own math anxiety. Your attitude toward math is just as important as your child’s attitude. As we build math competency, we must build math confidence.

Don’t tell your kid that you “weren’t good with math” like it’s genetic or something. If you don’t know how to do the math, support your child in getting the answers…tutoring, Khan Academy, DreamBox, etc.

Holly W., Teacher
DreamBox Nation Contributor

Trust the process used to teach math concepts. It’s not just about getting the answer right, it’s about the process used to solve the actual problem. For all the knocks against common standards integration, these standards do a great job focusing on critical thinking skills and conceptual problem solving.

Parents need to get on board with the new ways/strategies for learning math and then talk positively about math.  If parents think the new math is “stupid” and “no good” their child/children will begin thinking the same.  Learning and practicing new strategies together would make a world of difference for many students.

April R., Teacher
DreamBox Nation Contributor

Supplement math learning at home… ideally with DreamBox. We’ve seen numerous studies showing that students who use DreamBox at home for just 60 minutes a week (or 5 lessons a week) accelerate their learning, show real gains in math proficiency and are better prepared for more advanced math concepts. Another plus? DreamBox is fun, which means your child’s online “gaming” time pays big dividends.

We encourage parents to allow their children to work on DreamBox and other math programs at home or the local library. We also teach them math games that can be played and shared at home.

Amanda B.
DreamBox Nation Contributor

So, there you have it – five great ideas from DreamBox Nation to help you help your child. We always hear parents, and all learning guardians, want to take a more active role in their child’s education. But sometimes it’s hard to translate that need into concrete action.

With the above five suggestions, you’re well on your way. If you haven’t yet attended Back-to-School night, I heartily encourage you to discuss them with your child’s teachers. I guarantee they’ll be glad you asked!