Timeless Way Foundation

Tips for Parents

Parents need to help each other.  As a parent and former math
teacher there are a few tips I would like to share to help your
children succeed in school.

It is most important parents are involved with their children's
education: examining school work, helping with homework, and
checking on performance.  If your child goes to a school where
too many of the parents do not or cannot help their children
with school work, you will probably find your child is at an
under-performing school.

Here are some tips regarding the core skills in elementary
school, which is the foundation for all education.

ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL

Math

Elementary school and middle school are weak links in the
Plano mathematics program.  You will see your child does not
have enough math homework.  You can get supplemental math
material to give your child more homework.  I use a series
called
Spectrum Math, published by School Specialty
Publishing in Ohio.  I have found it at Borders and Barnes &
Nobel bookstores.  It says it is aligned to state and national
standards, and that is important.  The series is organized by
grade.  Here are links to the
3rd Grade,  4th Grade,  5th
Grade,  and 6th Grade books.

According to the TEKS: "
By the end of Grade 5, students know
basic
addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
facts
and are using them to work flexibly, efficiently, and
accurately with numbers during addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and division computation."  Yes, the TEKS say
our children need to know math facts, which are the math
tables.

The TEKS say, "the primary focal points at
Grade 6 are using
ratios to describe proportional relationships involving number,
geometry, measurement, and probability and adding and
subtracting
decimals and fractions."  Connected Math is weak
on these points, so parents in Plano must provide tutoring.

Multiplication and Division

Third grade creates problems for some children.  If you go to
the official state curriculum and read what it says about 3rd
grade math you will see this:  "... the primary focal points at
Grade 3 are multiplying and dividing whole numbers..."

Parents: check your child's work.  If your child is not getting
enough work in multiplication and division, then you must tutor
your child on the math facts.  Many children enter 4th grade
unprepared because their teacher did not put enough emphasis
on math facts.  The TAKS test checks for concept mastery
rather than skills mastery.  This means your child can pass the
TAKS test, pass for the year, and still not be able to multiply
and divide proficiently

You should use flash cards and assign your own homework to
your children.

TAKS

I also use TAKS MASTER, Power Practice for School and
Home, Math
.  I have also use the one for Reading.  Here are
links to the book for
3rd Grade Reading and 3rd Grade Math.  
Once you understand the TAKS test, you will see it is very well
organized.  The TAKS MASTER book organizes problems into
sections by the  objectives.  You might find your child is strong
in most sections but weak in one or two, then you can coach
your child on the weaknesses.  This helps you find where the
school has been overlooking material.

I recommend working with your child with material to help them
with their first exposure to TAKS tests.  The TAKS test is
intentionally tricky, especially with "false attractors", answers
that are almost correct intended to mislead your child.  You can
find more tips on the TAKS test in this post in the
Plano
Parents
blog:  TAKS Time: Watch Out for the Test Traps,
Sunday, March 7, 2010.

Reading

In the early grades you must oversee your child's progress in
reading.  There was not enough phonics content in the
curriculum when my daughter was young.  We supplemented
her instruction with more material on phonics.

At that time a friend recommended "The Phonics Game" by A
Better Way of Learning.  That company has been criticized for
making exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims.  They might
not be in business now, but the game was helpful with both of
my children.

To help my son when he was learning to read I used
Teach
Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried
Engelmann.  The book is adapted from the SRA DISTAR
reading program.  The program worked well and I recommend
it.  When I was a child my school used the
SRA Reading
Laboratory Kit.  I remember enjoying working my way through
their color coded reading program.

Grammar and Writing

Public schools do a poor job conveying knowledge to children,
and consequently grammar is poorly taught.  Parents need to
teach their children grammar.  Writing instruction is also warped
by faulty educational philosophy.  Good writing and good
grammar go hand in hand.  Parents need to take an active role
in teaching good grammar and good writing to their children.  
Talk to college professors and they will tell you the output from
the public schools is dismal.

Penmanship

Plano teaches children how to write words, but the school
district does not teach penmanship.  Teachers will tell you that
everyone types now, so penmanship is unimportant.

So if you believe good quality printing or cursive writing is a
sign of a well educated person, you will have to teach
penmanship to your child.  There are workbooks on
penmanship at teacher supply stores and at Amazon.com.

Vocabulary

Plano teaches children to guess the meaning of words instead
of looking the words up in a dictionary.  They did it when my
daughter was in 2nd grade and they were still recommending it
when she was in 10th grade.  It was a bad strategy then and it
still is a bad strategy.

Parents need to emphasize repeatedly the importance of using
the dictionary.  You need to buy good age appropriate
dictionaries for your home and make sure your children use
them.  
Online dictionaries are also good.

I learned much of my adult vocabulary in elementary school
because we were always learning new words, looking them up
in the dictionary.  Our children are being short-changed.

Do not wait until your child is facing the SAT test in high school
to care about vocabulary.  In elementary school or
middle-school I suggest this book:
Picture These SAT Words by
Philip and Susan Geer.

Moral Education

The most important contribution parents make to their
children's education is their moral eduction. We have a
separate web page on this topic.

Copyright © 2007-2013 Robert Canright