With Statewide Exams Around The Corner, Math On The Mind

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By Yoidette Erima
New York City public school students will take the statewide math exams this month.  Fourth-graders will take a three-part exam on March 6 – 8.  Third- and-fifth graders take a two-part exam on March 6 and 7..  A two-part exam will be administered to the 6-, 7- and 8- graders on March 13 and 14..
These exams may intimidate both you and your child because the relatively new format is longer with more “storyproblems” that measure real-life applications of mathematical concepts.  In actuality, this means you do not have to adjust your routine much to prepare your child for this exam.  If you make a conscious effort to think aloud (a proven educational strategy) – voicing your thought process as you problem-solve throughout the day and gradually probing your child for more assistance in solving the problem, the process will become second nature to your child.  Here’s an example for you to start a day jammed with opportunities to teach and reinforce math concepts:
ú You wake up in the morning and share the time you have to be somewhere, like the doctor. 
ú Think aloud about the amount of time it takes to travel there and how much time that leaves for you to get ready. 
ú Look at the clock with your child while you are thinking this through (a clock with hands work best) and, if possible, write down your thought process. 
ú It’s okay if you must rush through it; just express to your child why you are rushing.  That will reinforce the difference in 1 hour passing versus 10 hours passing.

Samples of the statewide exams are available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/3-8/math-sample/home.htm.  Familiarize yourself with the questions and determine how to integrate the reinforcement of the mathematical concepts into your routine.  You will find that your child will learn more from actual experiences with you than from simply completing the practice exams.
By involving your child in your daily household activities and responsibilities, you give them the best foundation for educational success.  Some concepts that are already familiar may be reinforced for the exam, but this approach should be applied for long-range confidence in math – so continue after the exam period passes.ÿ
Yoidette Erima is the executive director of Parents As Primary Teachers, Inc., a nonprofit resource providing training and support for parents/guardians that are home-schooling or complementing the conventional classroom education of their children. She can be reached at parentsasprimaryteachers@gmail.com.