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    By Elaine

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    I teach 4th and 5th graders (in a looping class). I use a standards-based math curriculum, and my students don't even have a textbook to take home for parents to use. And to make matters even more complicated, we do math very differently from the way even my most educated parents may have learned it. We have a 60-min. math period, so I usually don't have students do too much math at home. I send a parent letter at the beginning of most units explaining (briefly) what concepts we were going to cover and what parents can do at home to reinforce those concepts. For example: When doing a fraction/decimal/percent unit, parents were asked to point out and discuss examples of frac./dec./perc/ in real life. Parents know what's going on and have some ways they can help their child even if they are not actually helping with homework.

    One thing I've done for my students is provide (my own generated) "Resource Sheets" that would be similar to information found in a textbook for a student (and parent) reference when doing assignments. On these R.S. I provide definitions (partially filled in) and examples (set up ready to work) that we work through together as a class. I collect these R.S. and "grade" them mainly to insure that students have down correct information. I hand them back for students to place in their math folder to refer to when needed. (I kind of borrowed this idea from when I student taught in middle school. The teachers all had the students take notes and work through examples before assigning the homework. Then if they needed a model to follow later, they had their examples to refer to.)

    I think the parent who came in to get "tutored" on his own should be highly praised. He obviously cares more about his child than about himself. I've heard of (but have not done it myself) teachers who have planned a math night for parents and students to attend. The students and the teacher can do some math and actually teach the parent together.

    I did participate in a Family Fun Math night last year where we had math/game activities set up for parents and students around the school. It was lots of fun. It could be a fun way to get parents involved in a non-threatening way. Parents may discover that they know more about math than they thought they did in the first place.

    Good Luck!

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