Mathematics Professional Series|
Involving Parents and Communigy Algebra
Parents teach their children all the time. They teach language to their infants, and they teach their young children not to talk to strangers. They read to their sons and daughters and, in the process, help them learn how to read and write. They even teach their children how to count and use basic arithmetic facts.
But as their sons and daughters reach middle school and high school, many parents are not sure how to proceed with mathematics. Many are intimidated by their own perceived weakness in the subject. Yet most parents want to help their sons and daughters succeed in mathematics so that they may acquire the skills necessary to get a good job.
The goal of parental involvement in mathematics is not to teach specific concepts, but to help students develop curiosity and an enthusiasm for solving problems. In the process, parents can extend the learning that takes place in school. You can provide support in three ways:
The parents of your students can become your biggest allies in the classroom.
- by communicating with parents about what is happening in your classroom,
- by providing take-home activities for students and parents to complete, and
- by inviting parents and other members of the community to school to share information with the students.
How Parents Can Help at Home
When parents meet with teachers, they often ask what they can do to motivate their children in mathematics. Here are some things parents can do to build a strong understanding of and confidence in mathematics in their children.
- Share life experiences and problem-solving strategies with their children.
- Demonstrate the value of mathematics by having children solve problems that are real and relevant to their lives, such as large item family purchases and the family budget, equitable home task assignments, cost of a college education and financial benefits, and measurement of all kinds.
- Provide time, space, and the necessary tools for mathematics homework, including a calculator.
- Encourage their children to join mathematics clubs in school and in the community.
- Do home mathematics projects that could be developed into projects for science/mathematics fairs.
- Purchase puzzles, games, books, and models to be used by the entire family.
- Ask questions that have more than one answer.
- Show children that there are many ways to solve problems.
- Have children draw pictures and diagrams to represent problem situations.
- Monitor children's work and stress the importance of checking homework.
- Value education and reward accomplishment.
One of the ways that you can involve parents in the mathematics classroom is to provide challenging, useful mathematics activities that children and parents can do together. Here is a sample activity appropriate for algebra students and their parents.
Algebra Activity: Who Does Well in College?
Martinique was concerned about whether or not she would be successful in college. Her mathematics teacher explained to her that colleges used students' scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to predict their success in college. Her teacher explained that to predict success, there had to be a systematic relationship between two variables. The teacher gave her the following example of students' mathematics SAT scores and college grade point averages.
If the relationship between the variables is linear, then the points look like they lie on or near a straight line. Help Martinique use this data to predict her success in college.
- Use the graph above to make a scatter plot of the values.
- Does the scatter plot show a relationship between the two variables? Is it positive or negative?
- Can you draw a line to represent the relationship? If so, draw the line so that at least two points of the scatter plot are on your line.
- If Martinique scored 600 on her mathematics SAT, can you predict her college GPA?
- Do you think this relationship would hold for all students? Why or why not?
- Can you explain the GPA of student 5?
- yes; positive
- no; Answers will vary.
- Answers will vary. Sample answers: Student 5 does not perform well on standardized tests.
For more information on how you can include parents and community members in your classroom, see "Involving Parents and the Community in the Mathematics Classroom," part of the Glencoe Mathematics Professional Series.