hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Online Extras: News to Note

August 30, 2012

Advice from teachers on how to make happier students


3. Don't tell your child that you weren't good at math

Parents might feel intimidated by the thought of helping children with their math homework, especially in the upper grades.

"I wish parents didn't tell their kids, 'It's okay, I've always been bad at math, too,' " said Kim Jackson, a math teacher in Virginia. "You would never say that about reading. . . . Math is here to serve you, not to trip you up. It's here to make life easier, and a lot of that can start at home with parents showing that they're not intimidated by numbers."

One way to make math more accessible, Jackson said, is to relate it to daily activities, whether it's tipping at a restaurant or calculating statistics at a sporting event. Rachel Gallagher, a fifth-grade teacher in Virginia, agreed.

"Capitalize on those day-to-day things where math comes up rather than drilling kids on math facts," Gallagher said. "That way you're really engaging kids and letting them see how what they're learning matters in life."

4. Get organized with a color-coded system

Older students are expected to be more independent and manage their assignments themselves, but as they transition from elementary school to middle school, they might find it hard to keep track of everything. Maryam Thomas, a resource teacher who coordinates services for low-income students at a middle school in Maryland, recommends using color-coordinated folders, notebooks and composition books to help kids keep their material for different subjects organized.

"They are coming from elementary school, where they have one homework folder, and in middle school they have five or six teachers," Thomas said. "It throws them into a tailspin."

5. Check their homework, and then have them explain it to you

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