Archive for the ‘Parenting your Child’ Category

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October 3, 2008


How to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

October 3, 2008

The parent-teacher conference is an important opportunity to develop a strong partnership with your child’s teacher. Most schools schedule regular conferences, but if they don’t, you can request them. To make the most of each meeting with your child’s teacher, follow these tips from the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association:

Getting Ready

• Call or write a note to set up an appointment to discuss your concerns.

• Briefly state your reasons for the meeting so the teacher can prepare.

• Find out in advance how much time you will have. If you feel that you need more time, let the teacher know.

• Talk to your child ahead of time to find out if there is anything she would like you to discuss during the meeting. Assure her that you and her teacher are meeting to help her. Consider including your child in the meeting if you think that is appropriate.

• Make a list of questions and don’t be afraid to ask them. Give some thought to the goals you may have for your child and share them with the teacher.

The Conference

Begin the conference on a positive note. Tell the teacher what kind of progress you’ve noticed and what your child enjoys. Be sure to thank her for meeting with you.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

• How much time should my child be spending on assigned homework each night?

• How much help should I give my child on homework?

• How are you measuring my child’s progress? Through tests? Portfolios of his work? Class participation? Projects? A combination of these?

• Does my child participate in class discussion and activities?

• Does she complete and hand in all homework assignments?

• What future projects are planned?

• Is my child getting along with the other children?

• What are the classroom rules and how do you enforce them?

Develop a Plan and Initiate It

If your child is having difficulties, either socially or academically, this is the time to find out if they are school- or home-related, what the teacher can do to help and what assistance you can provide at home.

• Make notes of the teacher’s specific suggestions for helping your child at home.

• Before you leave the meeting, agree on a specific plan to help your child.

• Set up a way to check your child’s progress. Let the teacher know how to reach you and make sure that you know how to report back to the teacher.

• Review what you have discussed and restate your action plan.

• If you do not agree with the teacher, respectfully tell her this and let her know that you will continue to explore the issue further with her.

• Discuss the plan with your child.

• Follow through at home, as you have agreed to do.

• Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child’s progress and, if necessary, plan a follow-up conference.

From United Parenting Publications, October 2003.

High-quality mathematical education

October 2, 2008

In high-quality mathematical education for 3 to 6 year old children, teachers and other key professionals should:

  • enhance children’s natural interest in mathematics and their disposition to use it to make sense of physical and social worlds.
  • build on children’s experience and knowledge, including their family, linguistic, cultural, and community backgrounds; their individual approaches to learning; and their informal knowledge.
  • base mathematics curriculum and teaching practices on knowledge of young children’s cognitive, linguistic, physical, and social-emotional development.
  • use curriculum and teaching practices that strengthen children’s problem-solving and reasoning processes as well as representing, communicating, and connecting mathematical ideas.
  • ensure that the curriculum is coherent and compatible with known relationships and swquences of important mathematical ideas.
  • provide for children’s deep and sustained interaction with key mathematical ideas.
  • integrate mathematics with other activities and other activities with mathematics.
  • provide ample time, materials, and teacher support for children to engage in play, a context in which they explore and manipulate mathematical ideas with keen interest.
  • actively introduce mathematical concepts, methods, and language through a range of appropriate experiences and teaching strategies.
  • support children’s learning by thoughtfully and continually assessing all children’s mathematical knowledge, skills, and strategies.

To support high-quality mathematics, education, institutions, programme developers, and policymakers should:

  • create more effective early childhood teacher preparation and continuing professional development.
  • use collaborative processes to develop well-aligned systems of appropriate high-quality standards, curriculum, and assessment.
  • design institutional structures, and policies that support teachers’ ongoing learning, teamwork, and planning.
  • provide resources necessary to overcome the barriers to young children’s mathematical proficiency at the classroom, community, institutional, and system-wide levels.

Problem-solving, reasoning, and logical concepts

October 2, 2008

Steps in problem-solving:

  1. Understand the problem.
  2. Plan how to solve it.
  3. Carry out your solution.
  4. Review the solutions.

The key role is for teachers to provide a setting rich in possibilities for solving problems.


Teachers can promote children’s reasoning by posing appropriate questions. Your role in fosterin children’s reasoning processing is critical. Ask questions thatt require investigation and reasoning:

  • Are you sure?
  • How do you know?
  • Why do you think.. ?
  • What else can you find that works like this?
  • What would happen if .. ?
  • I wonder how this could be changed?
  • What would the pattern be?
  • What is.. ?
  • I wonder why .. ?
  • Perhaps it is because …

Teachers can continue reasoning with children using the language in every day occurence to help children think. Teachers can think aloud and express their own thoughts to facilitate children’s thinking.

Logical concepts:

Children’s understanding are based on specific concepts or relationships such as:

  • cause & effect
  • same & different
  • more & less
  • part & whole

Children notice the relationships in the everyday experience when they are manipulating real life objects that allow children to:

  • join and divide
  • sort and match
  • compare

Children learn numbers in everyday context that are transmitted through understanding of:

  • songs,
  • stories, and
  • finger play rhymes.

Children can recite numerical order way before they understand number concepts. Children understand number concepts when they understand the number does not change according to properties.

Games developed from Children’s Literature

October 2, 2008

It is easy to invent games based on children’s books. Some books have built-in math content, such as The Doorbell Rang, by Pat Hutchins. In this book, Pat describes the attempts of a group of children to equally divide Grandmother’s cookies as more and more children arrive.

Or a book might have a story line that sets the stage for a board game, such as Lunch, by Denise Fleming, which tells the story of a mouse that eats its way through many different foods during “lunch”. The circular path gae board developed by the authors, based on Lunch, depicts the foods the mouse eats.

Many times the flexibility of the story setting and plot allows for development of games to support specific math goals. For example, Counting Crocodiles, by Judy Sierra, is based on a Pacific Islands folktale about a monkey and a fox who live on the same island. Both animals want to get to another island where a banana tree grows. They convince the crocodiles that live between the two islands to line up, and be counted. This creates a path for the monkey and fox to get to the other island and back again. The plot includes counting and problem-solving, yet other math goals could be added to the game. (e.g.: players could order the crocodiles by size or make different shapes as they line them up)

Feast for 10 Book & CD (Read Along Book & CD) is about a family grocery shopping trip featuring family members adding items to the shopping cart in groups from one to ten. Preschoolers can play a manipulative game based on this book. Game pieces include include four shopping carts made from six-by-eight inch tag board. Each cart has a slot in the front. A piece of tag board on the back creates a packet, so children can inert laminated paper food items glued on tag board. A spinner indicates the number an dkinds of items to add to the cart. While reading the story, children twirl the spinner then add the appropriate type and number of food items to a cart. Another way to play is to use just the spinner to determine what to put in the cart.

This game improves children’s one-to-one correspondence and counting skills.

Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle. In this book, a child travels the world asking various people from different countries if they have seen his cat. This long path game for preschool & school-aged children uses a board from an old commercial game covered with plain contact paper. At intervals along the path, there are loop-sided pieces of self-stick Velcro.

Hand-drawn and laminated paper cats (matching the cats in the book) have hook side pieces of Velcro on the back and are attached to the corresponding Velcro pieces on the game board. The spinner shows numbers from 3 to 10, and dots of corresponding amounts. Small rubber cats and baskets round out the game pieces.

Children play the game by using the spinner and moving game pieces accordingly. When children land their game pieces on spaces with cats, they collect a small rubber cat to put in their basket. At the end of the game, children count the number of rubber cats in their baskets. THey can also classify the cats using common traits such as colour, markings, or pose.

This game helps children with one-to-one correspondence, counting, classification, and matching. In addition, children can predict which cat they will come to first, second, or third as they re-tell the story while playing the game.

Toby Counts His Marbles (Toby) by Cyndy Szekeres talks about Toby searching his room to find his lost marbles. A long path game design is a perfect way for preschool and school-aged children to help Toby find and count all of his lost marbles. Children roll a die to determine the number of spaces to move their plastic Toby tokens along the path. They visit all the places where Toby looks for the book, children collect the appropriate numbr of laminated paper or real marbles at each site along the path. Children each have a little bag to keep their marbles in as they play.

At the end of the game, childen count how many marbles they have found. They may also sort and organize their marbles collections. As older children move along the path, they can use additional interaction cards that support problem solving or performing simple number operations. This game helps children in counting from 1 to 10 an classification.

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert is a counting book which invites children to swim like fish, “down the river and splash in the sea” to spot various groups of fish and counting their eyes. The book is extremely appropriate for teaching one-to-one correspondence because the eyes for the fish are cut-out holes on each page.