5 Tips for New Year's Math Goals
It's that time of year again, setting goals for a fresh start ahead! The New Year is a great time to not only reset yourself but also have your children evaluate themselves and their school year. How are homework routines going? Are math facts being practiced nightly or weekly? Are good study habits being implemented at home? These are some of the questions we want our children to be thinking about and asking themselves to gain more responsibility and independence. And this time of year is the best time to do it!
1. Setting Goals: Create a fun environment for your children to set new goals for the rest of the school year. At no point do we want them to think of this as a punishment. It could be creating a poster, writing them on different colored index cards, typing them on the computer in fun colors/fonts, or even developing a PowerPoint or Google doc. We want these goals to be reflected on throughout the rest of the year so place them where you and your children can easily read them.
2. Homework: Homework routines and schedules should definitely be reflected on. At this point in the school year, many activities can change from the fall and after-school responsibilities increased. So it's important to review the homework schedule and make adjustments as necessary. Are assignments being turned in on-time? Are homework corrections being made either in school or at home? Consider cleaning out and reorganizing the homework folder. Does the order in which homework is being completed need to change?
3. Math Facts: Children of all ages should be reviewing math facts. (A basic math fact is any mathematical number, fact or idea instantly recalled without resorting to strategies.*) This is true for all four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Often, reviewing basic math facts, like the times tables, falls to the wayside as the school year progresses, but it's very valuable and should be incorporated into daily or weekly routines. Consider switching it up a bit and taking a break from the boring flashcards. There are great apps or websites to practice math facts. You can play math war with cards or dice. Even "beat the clock" can be fun, when kids try to complete facts faster than you doing them on a calculator.
4. Tests/Quizzes: Good study habits should begin at a young age. Most teachers give a few days' notice to quizzes and/or tests. It's important that all students see this time as a preparation period and begin to implement strong study techniques. Reviewing old quizzes/tests is a great way to start looking at incorrect answers and evaluating common mistakes. Incorporating children in this process is incredibly powerful.
5. Problem Solving: Focus strongly on problem solving when setting goals. Word problems are an area that most students need to improve on in mathematics. Many students can solve the problem, but have a difficult time explaining and showing reason for how they solved it. Incorporating math vocabulary is a great way to increase problem-solving skills. Considering setting a goal that is age appropriate where children have to use 1-3 math vocabulary words in the problem solving explanations.
Whatever goals you and children set for the New Year, remember to keep them obtainable and within reason. The focus should not be on getting perfect test scores or being the fastest, but more about making small improvements that will have a lasting effect on the whole student!
*Math fact defintion c/o Reference.com