Parents and teachers are always discussing ways to promote independence when it comes to math homework. I've heard over and over how hard completing math homework can be or how it turns into a fight. Finding ways for our children to become independent and confident thinkers is extremely important, and we should begin helping them do this when they're young. Developing a homework schedule is essential to beginning this process. Having children do their homework in the same place and around the same time can really help to set this into motion. Another way is to supply them with manipulatives that will support their independent thinking and help them to solve problems on their own, instead of always running to mom or dad for help. Consider having these 5 manipulatives on hand for your children to use when completing their math homework.
1. Number Lines: Number lines are very important for students' development and understanding of number sense. Whole number number lines (0-20) are important for grades K-2 while fractional and decimal number lines will help students in grades 3-6.
2. 100 Charts: 100 charts are great tools for students to use when solving many different problems. They support all four of the operations and help students to see patterns among numbers. 120 charts are best for students grades K-2, while 300 charts can benefit students 3rd grade and older. Here are a couple examples:
3. White/Dry Erase Boards: Encouraging students to show their work can be difficult, but give a child a dry erase marker and board and s/he will love it! Have children work out their problems first on the dry erase board then have them copy their work onto their paper. Sheet protectors are another easy way to use dry erase markers – they wipe off perfectly. EduCreations is an iPad app that is an online white board that my students love!
4. Post Its: Instead of helping your children solve every problem they don't understand, encourage them to write their questions down on a Post It, stick them on their homework, and ask their teachers these questions the next morning. It's a great stress reliever to arguments and really allows students to take ownership over their own thinking.
5. Pair of Dice / Deck of Cards: After homework every night, my daughter practices her math facts using either dice or a deck of cards. She plays different games every time and loves that she can choose what to work on. She has to write at least 20 of the facts on paper so I can see what she worked on. If we have time, we play math war against each other but again it's her responsibility!