Facility
in math is recognized by educators as being key to later success in life. The
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has set ten content standards
for the teaching and learning of mathematics from prekindergarten through
twelfth grade.
The standards in this series refer to
the entire range of grades. Examples, however, are for prekindergarten to second
grade, which includes the grade I teach.
The NCTM publication Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics has complete explanations of these. For
more information, you may visit NCTM at www.nctm.org.
Bullet points are quotations from the
publication. Underneath them are my suggestions for parents.
Math
principles and standards, part 8
Communication
Standard
The instructional programs should
enable all students to:
 Organize
and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication;
 Communicate
their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and
others;
 Analyze
and evaluate the mathematical thinking and strategies of others;
 Use
the language of mathematics to express mathematics ideas precisely.
This standard highly supports the use
of language to express math concepts. It is through the language that children
explain their thoughts. They can do this verbally, written (with drawings or
words), and by listening.
Children will be able to express
themselves verbally to the degree that adults around them have shown them how to
communicate in similar circumstances. We understand that language facility is a
precursor to being able to read. It is just as important and necessary in
learning mathematics.
Parents are in an excellent position
to talk onetoone or with just a few children about the way that they came up
with mathematical answers. By doing this, children can clarify their own
thinking.
In the event that the family speaks
another language than English at home, it would be beneficial to children to
have these concepts explained in both the home language and, if parents
understand it, in English as well.
Parents raised in other cultures
should also be aware of an approach taken in school that may not reflect the
home culture: asking a question in which the answer is known by the questioner.
Since this is a common technique for teachers to find out how children are
thinking mathematically, it would be useful for parents to use a similar
technique in family situations.
