I believe parents should assume some responsibility for their kids’ development in math, should be proactive in managing their students’ progress and should continually engage in the learning process with their kids, their teachers and the school. The following steps can serve as a framework for achieving success.
1. Set high expectations with the student, teacher and school. Everyone responds to positive expectation. Students should understand that they are expected to perform well in math and that their parents and schools will give them the support that they need. Teachers should understand the parent’s high expectation and know that the parent is interested in supporting the school’s objectives. Schools often are more responsive to parents who are engaged with their child’s daily progress.
2. Get organized for learning. Students should possess and maintain a textbook, appropriate reference materials, a subject notebook and pencils, erasers, etc. Students should study in an assigned area that is uncluttered, free of distraction, and well lighted. The notebook should be reorganized periodically to track homework, tests and quizzes, teacher handouts and notes.
3. Use the textbook. The textbook is a guide to what the student is expected to learn. The student should get to know the textbook and practice reading it with understanding. Especially useful are the definitions, examples and sample quizzes or exams. In most cases, the teacher is following the book topics, even when it appears not to be the case.
4. Take class notes and rewrite them as clear records of what is taught. Class notes tell a story of what is being taught. The student should take notes in class and rewrite the notes in his/her own words to mentally reinforce the concepts. Any unclear note details should be clarified with peers or the teacher. Particular attention should be paid to definitions, formulas and examples.
5. Do math problems. To become proficient, a student must perform problems. This includes problems assigned by the teacher but also problems in the textbook and from online or hardcopy reference materials. Performing problems is the best way to confirm whether the student understands the material.
6. Review in advance for exams. To avoid the stress of exams, a student should prepare starting one week in advance of the test by reviewing the class notes, quiz results, definitions and example problems from the textbook, and following any specific advice from the teacher.