Which Number does not Belong?
9 16 25 43
This question is a great conversation starter because there is more than one answer and depending on the student’s age and grade there will be different expectations about the answer. For example, 9 does not belong as it is the only single digit, 16 is the only even number, and 43 is not a square number. If you study it a bit longer there are other differences, for example 9 is the only number that doesn’t add up to 7 (6+1 = 6, 2+5 =7, 4+3 =7). This exercise demonstrates that math is not just about arithmetic rules but about patterns, reasoning, problem solving, and communicating the solutions. Math is a fundamental skill that we all need.
Students in Ontario are not doing well in math. Results from Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) for the past 5 years have shown very limited improvement in student results in math testing, and in some tests declines in scores. The Ministry of Education has responded by announcing a provincial renewed math strategy. The strategy includes making a significant investment in Mathematics, including teacher training, instructional supports and by requiring 60 minutes of math instruction every day in elementary schools, Policy/Program 160 – Protected Time for Daily Mathematics Instruction, Grades 1 to 8 (PPM 160).
There is significant evidence that parent engagement can improve outcomes for students. Numerous studies have shown that when parents who are engaged, academic achievement and student behaviour improves and graduation and employment prospects are enhanced. This means that parents have a key role in supporting success in math.
One of the challenges is that many parents do not feel competent in math and are unsure how to help. In fact, failure in math is socially acceptable and many of us say, “Oh, I am not good in math” or “I hated math at school.” Some parents struggled with math when they were at school or are concerned that they don’t understand the math curriculum and how it is taught. These fears and attitudes can be a barrier to parents helping their child.
If kids are going to be prepared for the careers of tomorrow, learning mathematics is essential. Math forms a critical foundation for work in construction, music, medicine, technology and research careers. Math is also part of our daily lives. Money management and understanding interest rates are important to all of us and math is part of many of our activities such as cooking, driving, and physical fitness goals.
Students with special needs may have difficulties with mathematics that include:
- Poor Memory
- Language and communication disorders
- Processing difficulties
- Poor self-esteem; passive learners
- Organizational Skills
- Math anxiety
Students with physical disabilities may:
- have learning disabilities, visual impairments, hearing problems, speech problems, and behavior problems
- need help moving around in class or reaching things
- need assistive devices for writing and speaking
- have difficulty sitting still and have uncontrolled movements
- tire easily and need frequent breaks
The mathematics curriculum is highly reliant on students’ ability to use and manipulate items such as paper and pencil, calculators, or three-dimensional geometric models. Children with disabilities that affect their ability to manipulate objects (cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, specific hand/arm conditions, etc.) and who therefore find it difficult or impossible to use such manipulables are clearly at an academic disadvantage.
Research has shown that the following strategies are effective in helping students with special needs in math:
- Teaching of mathematical language: for example, the specific mathematical use of everyday words such as ‘tables’, ‘translate’, ‘right angle’; terms specific to mathematics such as ‘digit’ or ‘subtract’; terms such as ‘height’, ‘distance’ or ‘mass’ that are more abstract
- Presenting information in different ways to help students who learn by listening, seeing or doing
- Presenting new ideas in smaller, more manageable steps
- Providing many opportunities for practice, review, discussion and application
- Developing knowledge, skills and understanding that move from simple to complex
- Avoid a focus on ‘right answers’ and emphasize the importance of processes and problem solving
- Using a computer and math programs that allow student to work at their own pace and that include motivators and rewards
- Relating mathematical concepts to everyday applications and other areas of the curriculum so pupils see how mathematics is relevant and how it can be applied
- Build on students’ preferred learning styles when explaining mathematical concepts, by exploiting different media −stories, drawings, models, computer simulations, animations, etc.
- Puppets, mascots and objects add fun and elements of surprise to lessons, and action songs, games and rhymes help with learning and remembering
- Use the many forms of mathematical representation such a pie charts, number lines, abacus, bar charts, and tiles
Parent Tips in Helping Your Child Succeed in Math
- Connect with the teacher and ask how you can help your child at home
- Attend any school activities or workshops for parents about math
- Be positive when talking about math and show your child how math is used at home (measuring ingredients, calculating quantities, costing gifts, planning trips, etc)
- Monitor homework time and ask questions about their work
- Encourage the child to talk about what they are learning
- When they are having problems, ask the child to explain the task and brainstorm some ideas together
- Look for helpful information on-line (for example Mathies website) or contact Homework Help
- When reviewing their homework or test results focus on the skills and ask how they found the answers
- Praise the effort and work completed, not just the scores or marks
Parent Resources to Support Math Success:
- Doing Mathematics with Your Child: Kindergarten to Grade 6 (Available in 13 languages)
- Homework Help: free online math supports
- Home Support for Math
- Mathies: resources for parents and students
- Inspiring Your Child to Learn and Love Math:
o Module One: Count Yourself In
o Module 2: Kindergarten – Count Together
o Module 3: Primary Grades 1- 3 – Making it Count
o Module 4: Junior Grades 4 -6 – Counting Ahead
o Module 5: Intermediate Grades: 7- 8 – Countless Opportunities
- Partnering with Your Teen in Mathematics
You can also review the Ministry of Education mathematics curriculum for each grade on the Ministry website: