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### Engaging Parents in Developing Children’s Math Knowledge

While teachers may teach the fundamental concepts of math in school, parents have a critical role in helping their children become successful math students. From very early childhood, the interactions of parents with their children impact the child’s later math achievement. A study by Susan Levine, et al. found that the more interactions that parents had with their toddler in which they used and discussed numbers, the greater the child’s understanding of the cardinal meaning of numbers at 46 months. Other studies show that math knowledge at the time of school entry predicts later math achievement through at least 5th grade.

Here is a list of some of the most interesting findings from two studies on the development of number sense among young children:

• Children exhibit marked differences in mathematical knowledge by the time they enter preschool.
• Math knowledge at the time of school entry predicts later math achievement through at least 5th grade.
• A child’s knowledge level is highly related to the complexity of early childhood parental instruction.
• Findings show that children learn to recite the number sequence before they understand the cardinal meanings of the number words.
• Parents who talked more about number with their toddlers had children with a better grasp of the cardinal meaning of numbers at 46 months.
• Researchers found a correlation between cardinal number knowledge at 46 months and performance on vocabulary comprehension task at 54 months.
• The use of number words with small children includes some unique challenges:
• Cardinal number does not refer to an object or a characteristic of an object but rather a property of sets.
• Number words describe sets that vary widely.
• Number words are used in counting as well as to describe sets.
• Number talk that references present objects was more predictive of children’s later number knowledge, especially when talking about large sets.

Providing the best parental support from early childhood through grade-school is not always intuitive. Parents themselves often need some instruction. Several resources are available to help parents develop the skills to engage their children in mathematical thinking at home and become involved in the learning process:

Math Is Everywhere is an initiative from Sesame Workshop™, the producers of Sesame Street, which provides fun and easy math activities and applications in everyday life. See the video available online.

CollegeBound is a free, online parent education program that offers simple ways for parents to help their children perform better in school.

The National Parental Information and Resource Center offers studies about the role of parent involvement in education and strategies for developing partnerships between parents and educators.

As a math specialist, I've always urged parents to make their children aware of the math that's all around them. Things as simple as counting up and down with the numbers in the elevator (for those of us high-rise dwelllers), and counting items at the supermarket can make ordinary tasks into teachable moments. That said, I've tried to include parent-friendly resources on my website mathstory.com as well.

Eric
<a>http://mathstory.com/
Posted @ Wednesday, August 31, 2011 9:52 AM by eric

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The Math Hub is a place for  sharing  expertise on math education and the use of adaptive technology to increase student achievement. We invite you to enhance our conversation by submitting your own comments.

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