Math Test - Did You Study?

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Have you ever asked your child, “Did you study for the math test?” If your answer is “yes”, you may need to redirect your question. While it may be semantics, the key part of preparing for a math test is practice.

The top reasons students have errors on math tests

·         Not reading instructions thoroughly

·         Handwriting is Illegible or unclear- Errors in handwriting can come from rushing through the problems and not writing neatly on homework.

·         Not practicing- not completing homework

·         Making simple errors in basic math- addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

·         Misunderstanding the math terminology

Knowing where the errors are can help with getting a better score on the next math test. Beyond knowing the errors, there are things that can be done to practice for the next math test.

Practice

·         Brush up on basic math facts. Being able to answer quickly and correctly on basic math can make solving more complex problems easier. There are many online and after-school programs designed to help a child become more proficient in basic math facts.

·         Be neat when writing- Write neatly when practicing homework and pace yourself. Many times sloppy handwriting can lead to errors while trying to solve the problem. Also, keep the numbers in the correct place (1’s, 10’s, etc.).

·         Do the homework! This is the best practice to be proficient in math. Understand which problems are wrong and how to correct. Then, practice them to prepare for the test. Try studying math in a  block of time and time yourself (no more than 60 minutes).

·         Review the math language and vocabulary for the topic. Knowing the difference between sum, product, and divisor can make navigating math much easier.

·         On the day of the test -

o    Read the instruction thoroughly- read them twice!

o    Jot down any vocabulary or formulas that had to be memorized

o    Write clearly and neatly!

o    Relax and pace yourself.

o    Navigate difficulty - If you get to a difficult problem, do as much as you can , then move to the next question. If time permits you can come back to it.

·         Once the test is graded, review any errors for understanding.

Math can be difficult because each topic builds on previous topics that should have been learned. That is why it is so crucial to understand errors on previous homework, topics, and test, because misunderstandings can lead to more difficulty as the next topic begins. However, if a student becomes aware of their errors and practices, they will flourish and be successful on their next math test.

Reading

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The first step in becoming a better reader is learning to read. This includes learning the alphabet, decoding words phonetically, and building vocabulary. Over time children put this foundation to work as they read to learn and grasp concepts.  This brings a child to utilize the skill of reading comprehension, which is currently emphasized in schools.

The current school curriculum is emphasizing reading, specifically reading comprehension versus attaining general knowledge. And yet, despite the enormous expenditure of time and resources on reading, American children haven’t become better readers.1 For the past 20 years, only about a third of students have scored at or above the “proficient” level on national tests.

Also, the school-free summer months can bring on learning losses of one to two months in reading compared to the previous year. So what can you do???

  1. Begin early. Read aloud to your infant as part of a daily routine. As your child gets older, you can begin to engage and ask questions and talk about the story. Once your child begins to read, have her read aloud to you.

  2. Role model. Read! Check out books from the library. Show an interest in reading and your child may develop the same interest. Read articles, books, recipes, etc. that role model that you read as well.

  3. Make appropriate materials easily accessible to encourage reading. Have magazines, newspapers, and articles available that engage your child’s interest. Through proper adult supervision and controlling filters, you can even find interesting reading on the internet.

  4. Find help if necessary. Most children can learn to read, even if some do need a little more assistance. Solicit help from teachers or professionals to determine if your child has a learning disability or other problem that needs extra support. 

With your support and encouragement, your child will begin a lifelong journey of reading.

  1. Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years, Natalie Wexler, The Atlantic, April 13, 2018

Ready to Return to School? Reduce Stress by Making a Plan

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I know… everyone is enjoying summer and does not even want to think about school right now. There is no need to cut the summer short when you have a solid plan and know when to begin. Take some time to get a plan together to eliminate the stress of returning to school. Here are a few things to include in your return-to-school plan:

Here are a few things to include in your return-to-school plan:

  1. Establish a time to begin your plan. A first consideration is when does school begin- from there you can determine when to start implementing a back-to-school plan. A good rule of thumb is to start executing a plan about 2 weeks before school begins (and continue enjoying summer until then).

  2. Return to the rhythm of a regular regimen 2 weeks before school starts:

    a. Sleep- Establish a set bedtime and stick with it. The plan can even be graduated and work towards the ideal bedtime. For example, bedtime may be 10pm and then the next week goes to 9pm. 

    b. Wake up!- Consider starting the day at the time you will need when school begins. This gets everyone in the habit of waking at the same time and eliminates the struggles that come with those early back-to-school blues.

    c. Food - Summer is all about going, doing and having fun and with that comes erratic eating habits and schedules. Try setting a solid routine for breakfast with a balanced nutritious meal.

  3. Involve the children- What do they want to do to get ready for school? What is their favorite breakfast? Getting school supplies and backpacks are ways to get the children excited about returning to school.

  4. Consider what kind of support may be needed as the children return to school- after school transportation, daycare, extra-curricular activities, etc. Working through this ahead of time will ensure the family is prepared.

Don’t procrastinate. Waiting and delaying will only create more stress later. Any routines that are started will be helpful in the return to school. Taking time to create a solid plan before return to school begins will eliminate a lot of the stress of transitioning from the fun summer.




Vocabulary Disparity

How to begin? What word to use? Have you ever struggled to find the right word ? A strong vocabulary starts as early as a preschooler according to recent research.  As reported by Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019, vocabulary disparity begins to appear at 18 months. 1

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Helping preschoolers learn new words can help improve the disparity and establish strong reading skills. Here are 6 ways to build a child’s vocabulary 2:

1.   Visit the Library

Ask the librarian for help if you are not sure where to begin. Attend the fun and engaging activities at your local library. Events at a library are a public service and typically are free.

2.  Teach and Reinforce The Alphabet

Singing the alphabet song is a simple way to get preschoolers engaged in learning. You can use the alphabet to play games such as selecting a word that begins with letters in order of the alphabet.

3.  Use Descriptive Words

Expand on the description of items when talking with your child. Using descriptive words may be beyond your child’s understanding but using them in proper context makes them more comprehensible. Also, try using synonyms with your child to broaden their vocabulary and word choice.

4.   Become a Super Sorter

Label items in your child’s room and sort items into bins. Seeing is learning and can teach children to think logically and build their vocabulary. Another way to learn new words is to help them visualize it - use flashcards or pictures from magazines for this.

5.   Practice Rhymes

Not only is rhyming fun but can help toddlers think about how different words can relate to each other. Reading books such as Dr. Suess can be fun.

 6.   Read Aloud Together

Book time can be quality one-on-one time with your preschooler. Select books that will interest your child and stretch their understanding. Along with reading, engage your child by asking questions and allowing them to ask questions. This will expand vocabulary and also begin to build comprehension skills.

 Expanding your child’s vocabulary is not difficult but it is necessary to help them along the path to reading. Starting early is the key to reduce the disparity of vocabulary for your child. While it does take some planning to attend the library or label/organize your child’s room, the benefits will become apparent as your child begins to incorporate new words into every day conversation.

1 Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019, Omidyar Network, 2019

2 8 Fun Ways to Build a Child’s Vocabulary, Very Well Family, January 2019

Summer is Coming - Get Ready for the Slide

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As the school year comes to an end, students get excited about relaxing, having fun and enjoying the warmer weather. As they hit the playground and run for the slide, their memory and learnings from the school year begin to slide. So how do we prevent “slide” over the summer?

“In their overview of the summer slide, Quinn and Polikoff offer a few key facts:

  • Learning and achievement are perishable. The average student loses a month of academic-calendar learning each summer.

  • The impact of the summer slide contributes to a more pronounced achievement gap.

  • Research has found a link between socioeconomic status and the loss of reading skills experienced over the summer.

  • Studies show older students lose more over the summer than younger ones.

  • Students see greater academic dips in math than in reading.”1

Here are some things that can be done to slow the knowledge “slide”:

Head to the library. Read, read, read… select a book that interests the child. Reading improves English capabilities and increases word knowledge. Reading can be interactive by having discussions with the family – providing summaries or reading together for the younger ones. As writing is being more emphasized in school, a short book summary could be written to keep up the practice.

Keep the communication going. In addition to reading with the child or reviewing books together, communicate with your children. Ask about their day, incorporate items that are being studied – colors, letters, numbers, animals, history, civics, etc. Connect with an instructor or educational coach to provide support.

Complete work over summer. There are many options to get assigned work over summer break. Schools or libraries may supply summer projects. Also many after-school supplemental educational programs offer assignments for summer.

Do work at home. While there are many options to do homework over the summer, utilizing online versions of programs can be very supportive. The more interactive, the more likely children will spend some of their summer break doing online studies at home.

Implementing a strategy can prevent the “slide” of your child’s knowledge over summer. Contact your local Eye Level Center to discuss how their summer programs can help.

 


  1. Ariel Goldberg, 2018,  What Summer Slide Actually Means-and 5 Ways to Fight it

Summer Learning Loss: Hold on to Math

It is broadly known that students lose academic progress over summer break. This is frequently referred to as “summer learning loss” or “summer slide”. While there are significant losses that can be measured, math shows the most loss.

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“As you can see in the graphs, summer learning loss is clearly observed in both math and reading in each summer term between third and eight grade. In the summer following third grade, students lose nearly 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math. By the summer after seventh grade, students lose on average 36 percent of their school-year gains in reading and a whopping 50 percent of their school-year gains in math. In other words, summer learning loss increases with age through elementary and middle school.” 1

Here a few ways to hold on to math over the summer:

·         Discover Math: Math is all around us and together with your child you can have fun discovering math. Count the front doors as you walk around the block, use measuring cups to explore volume while at the beach or pool, watch license plates while on a road trip to play math games, let your imagination run wild as you discover math together.

·         Online Math apps: There are several online apps that can help with math:

o   Math Champ - available for iPads and iPhones, Math Champ is a challenging and innovative gaming app that allows students to test their math skills.

o   Eye Level Math Online – available on any browser, Eye Level Math Online is a fun interactive math game that covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

1 Megan Kuhfeld, July 16, 2018  Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning

More Social Interaction Needed

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In the age of mobile devices and social media, it seems like we are more connected than ever. However, studies have shown that the technology evolutions has caused more seclusion and people withdrawing from real social interaction. In combination with a more diverse population with different backgrounds and cultures this provides good reason to develop strong social skills in children.

·         Self-awareness: Understanding one’s own emotions, goals, values, limitations, strengths, and how they are all interconnected.

·         Self-management: The ability to regulate emotions and behaviors to manage stress and impulses.

·         Social awareness: Empathy and compassion for those who are different, while recognizing social norms in various situations.

·         Relationship skills: The ability to maintain healthy and rewarding relationships by communicating clearly, actively listening, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, resolving conflict and asking for help.

·   Responsible decision making: Learning to make choices by considering ethics, safety, risk, consequences and other people.

It takes role models, mentors, classroom efforts and parent involvement to develop these skills to increase social and emotional behaviors. Parents can lead the effort through community leadership and speaking with schools about incorporating SEL. Schools can be a support but it also takes community – after-school programs, mentorships and getting involved in activities with other children that promote positive social interaction.

1 Edutopia, 2019, Why social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Students