As parents go about their normal routines and children struggle to make sense of their requirements at school, some things often get lost in the mix. These lost items are often topics like fractions, word problems, algebra concepts (integers, factoring, equations, radicals), logic, proofs in geometry, etc. In Virginia they have a fix: they count homework and tests together in compiling a grade. Then they give a test called the SOL to verify what a student has learned at the end of the school term. The school keeps its accreditation and the student walks away feeling that she has indeed learned the subject. However, because the SOL really is not a comprehensive measuring tool, the student actually has not learned much of the subject. Not enough, for instance, to carry over to the ACT or SAT in the senior year, at least not in math.
How would I know this? Because I have witnessed it. And because I was in the business of teaching long before I became a published author. Because I have prepared students for comprehensive final exams as a high school and community college teacher and have prepped students for the SAT and ACT.
So what’s one to do? First, get angry. Then, get involved. And after you get involved, choose to take responsibility for your child’s math education. (It will be necessary to decide what to do about the other subjects. But, fix math first since that is the most critical.)
There are several fixes available. First, my own books, The Children’s Book for Math Empowerment and The Book for Math Empowerment will give a realistic picture of where a student needs to be mentally and psychologically to succeed in math, no matter how good or poor the current math teacher is. Second, get a supplementary math textbook that you and your children can read and understand. These can be found either on-line or at a good bookstore. (Buy it with the understanding that if the level is wrong, you can exchange it for another.) Third, use the book you just bought to supplement homework and test preparation each week. Fourth, don’t fall prey to the excuse, ‘my teacher doesn’t do it that way!’ So what? Fifth, show your child the advantages of not using a calculator and demonstrate how to show his work. Sixth, insist upon neatness and correct formatting. Last, set aside quiet time each day so that you can read a good book, and they can do their homework without distractions. About 1.5 – 2 hours daily should do it.
When all is done, grades should be higher, competencies will have been gained, and you will have more peace of mind. That alone is a gift you should give yourself. #
[As for the aforementioned books, both are available on this site and can be in your personal home library in five days or less. If you want the names of other resources, write me at email@example.com.]