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   Helping Your Child Learn Math - June 1999


Meeting concerned families who are actively involved in their children's learning is a continuing source of inspiration in my position as Secretary. As I travel across the country, I see firsthand what 30 years of research proveschildren whose families read to them, help them with homework, talk to their teachers, and participate in their learning in other ways have a tremendous advantage in school.

We know that one of the most powerful forces we have to strengthen student achievement is a family's fundamental desire to prepare their children to succeed in the world. Many families know that the first step toward success for their children when they enter school is to master basic skills, such as reading and math. Helping Your Child Learn Math provides proven ideas and activities for families to help their children succeed in math.

Today, math includes much more than arithmetic. Even in elementary school, children should be learning beginning concepts in algebra, geometry, measurement, and statistics. In addition, they should be learning how to solve problems by applying a knowledge of math to new situations, to understand math concepts, to reason mathematically, and to communicate mathematical ideas by talking and writing about math.

Demand for skills in mathematics, science, and technology are continually increasing. To be successful in college and the workplace, students should take at least three years of rigorous high school math, aiming for calculus and even Advanced Placement mathematics. We now believe that by the end of the eighth grade, students should have mastered the fundamentals of algebra and geometry to be ready for high school and on track for college and the workforce.

Perhaps one of the most important ways that families can reinforce mathematics achievement is simply by having a positive attitude that children can master challenging math. Too often, we undermine our children's interest in math by using statements such as "math is hard" or "I didn't like math either." Research shows that when we believe all children can learn challenging materials and we set high expectations, children rise to the occasion.

This booklet includes activities for families with elementary school-aged children. These activities use materials found inside your home and also make learning experiences out of everyday routines, such as grocery shopping and cooking. The activities are designed for you to have fun with your child while reinforcing mathematical skills.

This booklet is part of a series aimed at helping families participate in their children's learning. We hope you and your children will enjoy the activities suggested in this book and develop many more of your own. I commend you for being an involved family. Your commitment will encourage your children to reach their full potential.


Math Counts
Richard W. Riley
Richard W.Riley
U.S. Department of Education
Parent Pointer
In 1995, a mathematics test was given to fourth graders in 41 nations. This testing was part of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In looking at how U.S. students did on the test compared to those from other countries, U.S. students did better than the international average in the areas of whole numbers; fractions and proportionality; data representation, analysis, and probability; geometry; and patterns, relations, and functions. Our students were below the international average in measurement, estimation, and number sense.


[Title] [Table of Contents] [Introduction]


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