Helping Students Succeed in Math: Junior High & High School Edition
Part Two of a Two-Part Series
By Lisa Parrish, Mathematics Department Chair
Holy Trinity is fortunate to have a skilled team of math teachers that bring a combined 233 years of experience to their students. Teachers here are dedicated to their craft, committed to the success of their students, and provide countless hours of individualized teaching and tutoring. Therefore, when I was asked to share some ideas with parents about how they can best support their children in math, I was excited to do so. The suggestions below are applicable to middle school or high school students. The study of mathematics is a discipline that is learned over time. Throughout the list below you will find references to Tony Wagner’s 7 Survival Skills necessary for students’ success in college.
Make sure they are completing homework every day (including on weekends). Assignments are given at every class meeting and should take about 20-25 minutes. Many teachers provide class time to begin assignments as a way of scaffolding students while they build confidence (Critical thinking and problem solving)
Encourage your child to read the textbook and study its examples as well as examples the teacher provides. There are also very good instructional videos online if a student is absent or just wants to have the material presented again. Any Google search of the topic should produce good sites to select from. Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha are two examples. (Curiosity, accessing and analyzing information, initiative)
Help your student to formulate specific questions. “I don’t understand this!” is NOT a question. “Can you help me see how you found the equation in the third line?” is much more likely to garner assistance. One-on-one help is always more productive if questions are prepared ahead of time. (Curiosity, effective communication)
When your student encounters difficulty, have them see the teacher right away! Encourage them to persevere despite difficulty. Math can be difficult, but it is very doable. Help your student to keep a positive attitude and believe in themselves. Learning to self-advocate is an important life skill. Students must face challenges with resilience and a growth mindset. If they say things like “I just don’t get it,” “I’m bad at math,” or “my teacher goes too fast” it is a good indicator that they have shut down and are not really interested in fixing the problem. Helping young minds navigate challenges requires that you have confidence in the teacher’s desire and ability to teach. Brainstorm ideas with your student that will realistically bring about a positive outcome.(Agility and initiative)
Help your child form a study group with other serious students. Pizza can be a powerful lure to entice other students to your house. The Math LAB provides tutors and a math coach – a wonderful resource! Students who TALK about math together understand the concepts more thoroughly and learn from one another. At the very least, if a face-to-face meeting is impossible, then video chatting is an alternative. (Collaboration across networks and leading by influence)
Help your student organize. It is difficult to prepare for a test if a student cannot find notes, quizzes, handouts, etc. all compiled in one place. Students who lack organization often lose assignments. Remind them that there is dignity in the details! Taking notes, organizing a notebook and reviewing past assessments all go a long way to prepare for exams and true long-term learning. (Accessing and analyzing information, initiative)
Encourage your child to correct all quizzes and tests (even those on which they got an A!) It’s important that they learn from their mistakes. It is essential for the student to engage in an honest evaluation of their method of preparation, study and then make plans for how to improve their process in the future. (Agility and initiative)
Help your child with their calendar (whether electronic or paper) and how to prioritize tasks. Many students run into time management problems.
As educators at Holy Trinity, we are blessed to be able to educate the whole child – mind, body and spirit – and we feel fortunate to provide your children with outstanding opportunities for a well-rounded education. Alas, I close with this…
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another...Proverbs 27:17
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