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Parents learn to help pupils master math skills

Parents of Eisenhower Elementary School pupils met with teachers last week to learn what their children should be learning.

In a workshop sponsored by the school's PTA, teachers talked about math requirements for each grade level and shared ways in which parents could help their children.

Games were a big part of the evening.

Teacher Jeff Burke displayed the contents of a county-mandated math manipulative kit for first-graders. With its spinners, dice and dominoes, the kit provides everything necessary for a variety of number games, Burke explained, and can easily be duplicated at home.

"Most of you have spinners left over from one game or another," he said, and dice and dominoes are readily available.

Using dice or dominoes, parents can make a game out of adding, subtracting or multiplying numbers, he said. Children can see and count the dots on the dominoes or do comparison problems with a set of dice.

Fifth-grade teachers Julie Adrian and Colleen McNulty provided parents with booklets, "Family Math _ Activities for Parents and Children."

Besides directions for several games, the booklets include a page with a chart of the various ways to approach the teaching process.

Pupils practice math in real-life applications such as writing checks and keeping a check register, Adrian said. They also practice adding, subtracting and comparing by making out grocery lists and balancing budgets.

Teachers use an interdisciplinary approach to math by asking pupils to explain in a paragraph what multiplication is, or measure the amount of liquid used in a science experiment or the growth of a plant.

"Explaining it helps them to understand it," Adrian said.

In a kindergarten classroom, Debra Unangst watched her son, Cody, build a wall using small blocks of various shapes and sizes.

The process "teaches sorting, patterning and classifying," teacher Scott Ann Hite explained. "It just gets them ready for more abstract concepts."