Math & Literacy Tips

Literacy Tips

Children can learn letters and letter sounds from environmental print. Parents can help teach the letters to their children starting with the letters in their name, followed by the letters in alphabetical order, followed by the letter name pronunciation such as b, d, j, k, p, t, v, f, l, m, n, r, s and finally ambiguous letters such as h, y, and w. Upper and lower case can be taught at different times.

Taken from Multiple Paths to Literacy by Miriam P. Trehearne

Talk to your child about what you are reading. When reading with your child, you can discuss what might happen next, using, ‘I wonder’ type questions, such as: “I wonder what this story might be about”. Also, asking “Who, what, when, where and why” questions during reading is beneficial to developing student comprehension of the text.

Continue to read to your child and encourage your child to read to you by reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Students can write notes to friends and relatives. Visiting the library regularly supports literacy learning, as well encouraging and extending conversations with your children.

Helping your child figuring out difficult words.

 Allow your child time to figure out what a word might be or to recognize a mistake. If a mistake doesn’t affect the meaning, let it go. Your child can use various tactics to figure out a word he or she doesn’t know.

  • Sound out the word.
  • Look at the pictures.
  • Divide the word into smaller parts.
  • Reread the words before and after the difficult word.
  • Skip over the word for the moment and read on further.
  • Talk about what he or she has read so far to check understanding.
  • Ask a brother or sister for the answer.

Pictures are there for a Reason

Please, please, please don’t cover up the pictures when reading with your child. The pictures ARE the story. Beginning readers have very little text, and the meaning comes from the pictures. When you cover the pictures, the inadvertent message is that comprehension doesn’t matter—only word accuracy has value. For our beginning readers, teaching them that they see a bunny but the word starts with “r” IS the lesson. We want them to match meaning with text, and covering up the picture takes that away.

P.S. Reading the pictures IS real reading. It helps children develop comprehension, storytelling, and a love of books. Not sure about that? Read Chalk by Bill Thomson, a wordless picture book that will make you a believer.


Math Tips

When students attempt to solve story problems they should use the three read strategy which older students should be very familiar with at North River Elementary School as we have poster in our classrooms outlining the strategy and teachers refer to them regularly in their teaching.

 First Read:  The students try to visualize the problem in order to get an impression of its overall context. They do not need specific details at this stage, only a general idea so they can describe the problem in broad terms.

Second Read:  The students begin to gather facts about the problem to make a more complete mental picture of it. As they listen for more detail, they focus on the information to determine and clarify the question.

Third Read:  The students check each fact and detail in the problem in order to verify the accuracy of their mental picture and to complete their understanding of the question.


Make mathematics part of your child’s day.

Point out to your child the many ways in which mathematics is used throughout his or her day. Encourage your child to tell or show you how he or she uses mathematics. Include your child in everyday activities that involve mathematics – making purchases, measuring ingredients, counting out plates and utensils for dinner, measuring and calculating the area of a room. Play games and do puzzles with your child that involve mathematics. Such activities may focus on direction or time, logic, reasoning, sorting, classifying, and/or estimating. In addition to mathematics tools, such as a ruler and a calculator, use household objects, such as toothpicks, a measuring cup, and containers of various shapes and sizes, when doing mathematics with your child.

We know the importance of giving our children chances to connect with us. You should feel good if your child comes to you for help with math homework. If you’re unsure about math, don’t panic. There are still ways to help. Just keep reading. If you’re good at math, don’t take over. You’ll help most as a guide. No matter what your own experiences are with math, there are questions you can ask that will help your child.

Although this isn’t a script, you might try these comments. The responses you get can help you and your child tackle the challenges of math homework.

What is the problem you’re working on?  Let’s look at it.

  • What do the directions say?
  • What words or directions don’t you understand?
  • Where do you think you should begin?
  • What do you already know that can help you work through the problem?
  • Show me what you’ve done so far.
  • Where can we find help in your textbook or notes?
  • Are there similar problems to look at?
  • Let’s try drawing a picture or making a diagram.
  • What did the teacher ask you to do?
  • What problems like this one have you had before?
  • Tell me where you’re stuck.
  • Who can you call to get help?
  • Let’s try it using a calculator.
  • Let’s skip this problem and go on to another.
  • Why don’t we look for some help on the Internet?
  • What type of partial work does your teacher accept?
  • Can you get some help from your teacher tomorrow?
  • Should we tackle this another time?

So Many Things to Count!

When children first begin to count, they learn important mathematical ideas:

• One-to-one correspondence (one number for one object)

• Stable order (we count 1, 2, 3, 4, … not 1, 2, 7, 5, …)

• Cardinality (the last number counted tells how many)

When children are learning to count, they like to touch, point to and move objects as they say the number aloud – so encourage them to!

• Have your child count toys, kitchen utensils, items of clothing as they come out of the dryer, collections (such as stickers, buttons or rocks) and any other items your child shows interest in counting.

• Mix it up! Have your child count a set of objects but start at different places in the set (for example, start counting in the middle of the set rather than at the beginning). This helps to develop the idea that the counting of objects can begin with any object in a set and the total will still be the same.

• Sing counting songs and use counting in meaningful ways in games, such as Hide-and-Seek. Counting games, rhymes and songs exist in every culture. Some counting songs and rhymes help children to count forward and backward as well.

• Have your child skip count (counting by twos, fives or tens) to count larger groups of items quickly. Use such objects as blocks, pasta pieces, toothpicks or buttons.