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The Parent’s Notebook

By Aminisha Black

Life Beyond the NYS Mathematics Test
  The Math tutoring business has been booming for the last month or so.   Anxiety has probably risen considerably in the home over the same period of time.   Why?  The upcoming Math test!  
While I don’t have any magic formula for students to ace the Math test, I do have a  formula for mastering all subjects and, consequently, all tests.  The goal should be to have our children gain the skills necessary to solve problems in the real world.  Since our homes exist in the real world and as adults, parents know what’s needed to manage their homes successfully; the ball is in our court.    Just notice that you may be working more hours, buying more trinkets but still sweating your child’s future because someone or something else is pulling the strings. Perhaps we can translate the frenzy of last-minute prepping for this test into a resolution to turn the theory of the classroom into practice at home and have real-life experiences make the theory more meaningful for our children.
At the risk of being redundant, children are born with genius.  Involving them as early as possible in home management makes it easier for you, gives them a feeling of being worthwhile (being a contributor), responsible and capable and I daresay excel in school.  We won’t use the word “chores” because somewhere along the line, “chores” have gotten a bad reputation.   Nelson Mandela, who herded sheep at the age of five, is my shining example of the benefits of growing up being responsible and contributing.    Let’s look at some ways of developing a comfort with Mathematics by merging it with the real world – making home a Math Lab.   The kitchen is a great place to start, provided of course, you’re still preparing and eating meals at home.  If not, make that the first on your list of priorities -not only to teach Math but also to ensure optimum health of your family, and as a bonus, your child’s self-esteem receives a major boost.
Gather the family and establish menus for the week.  This allows children to make input into the meal planning and allows discussions for linking food to health.  Stressing balanced meals, you can come up with percentages or fractions of food types for each meal.
Making the shopping list requires counting the people who will eat, estimating how much each will need, adding to get purchase amount.  In the case of beverages, converting ounces to quarts.
Taking inventory; Ask your child to help you determine what’s needed by looking at the fractions of items you still have. How much bread? A quarter of a loaf? What about milk? Half a gallon?  A third or half of a dozen?  You don’t have to actually measure – it’s an exercise in estimating and talking fractions.
Fine-tune your list by reading supermarket sales and gathering manufacturers and store coupons being offered for foods on your shopping list.  Spice up the savings hunt by letting the child know that savings at the supermarket or elsewhere will result in money he or she can use to get a wanted item.  Allow child to compare prices at different stores to determine where the best prices are and have her add the savings.
At the supermarket allow your child to weigh produce on the store’s scale.  Let him add and reduce amounts in order to count the number of marked ounces that add up to one pound.  Child can also weigh packaged food and compare the weight on the package to that on the scale.  Having child figure out cost-per-unit improves his ability to estimate and predict and helps you get the most for your money.
Cooking the meals requires measuring ingredients, dividing or multiplying depending on servings recipe yields. Baking involves time and temperature formula.
These are but a few ways to teach Math on a regular basis that will help children of all ages understand what Math
is about. There’s more in the kitchen as well as throughout the home and community. And it doesn’t stop with Math.  Let’s give real meaning to parent involvement by bringing the learning home.   The HomeWorks! Seminar is committed to establishing the authentic home team and a community that honors the gift that our children are.  For on-line resources, visit
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