Q&A #18654

How to discuss my son's need for more math instruction

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 02, 2007 at 13:35:48
Subject: Re: How to discuss my son's need for more math instruction

Thanks for writing to T2T. I'm glad that you are willing to be an advocate for you son's education, and that you are sensitive to approaching the issue in a way that's effective. From 18 years of experience as an enrichment (GT) teacher, I know that the parents who are most successful in advocating for appropriate programming for their children 1) do their homework by being informed of legal and educational issues, 2) approach the task in the spirit of teamwork with the school, rather than confrontation, and 3) deal with school personnel respectfully but firmly. You are right in recognizing that simply more of the same kind of work does not qualify as meeting your child's needs. There are a number of recognized strategies that might, including acceleration (faster pace or advanced content), enrichment (greater depth), compacting, cluster grouping, or some combination of them. Susan Winebrenner's book "Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented" offers lots of practical ideas. http://www.susanwinebrenner.com/ If your child's placement for next year isn't set in stone yet, you might talk to the school's principal to lobby for having a teacher who is more in tune with differentiation strategies. It's critical that bright children get challenged and stretched. Otherwise they are denied the experience of learning how to work hard and struggle with difficult tasks. As your son gets older, look for programs outside of school, such as summer institutes, that give kids the opportunity to spend time with others of similar interests and ability. It's important, especially as they reach adolescence, to know that there are many other like them. The Texas Association for Gifted & Talented should be a good resource: http://www.txgifted.org/index.cfm There is a Parent tab with information and suggestions. Each state's laws are different in terms of GT education, but according to Davidson Institute web site, Texas mandates that gifted students be served and provides at least some money. That's not to say that it always happens, but it's helpful to know that there does exist law or policy to provide some leverage, if need be. Here are some other resources for you to check out: The National Association for Gifted Children http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=1261 Davidson Institute for Talent Development: http://www.ditd.org/ Hoagies' Gifted Education Page http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/ Keep supporting him at home. I'd recommend working on problem solving over the summer. Good problems can be approached by various strategies, and don't depend on specific skills. They help students build connections to other strands of mathematics. I'd strongly suggest a student subscription to our Problems of the Week, especially once the new season starts in August. http://mathforum.org/problems_puzzles_landing.html You can get a free 21-day trial account to check it out. It's also something you might suggest to your child's teacher or school. They are especially valuable for brighter children who need extra challenge and can very often work on them independently, or in a small group, with minimal intervention and planning on the teacher's part. No doubt there are other children in the school who could benefit as well. In the meantime, check out the "Other Problems and Puzzles" link from that web page for other sources of problems. Other good sources of rich problems: http://www.pasd.wednet.edu/school/mathwasl/ http://nrich.maths.org/public/index.php http://www.nzmaths.co.nz/PS/index.aspx Another good resource would be the book "Family Math" (http://www.lhs.berkeley.edu/equals/books.html). There are lots of games and activities that build children's understanding. I hope this is helpful. Good luck. Please write again if you have more questions. -Claire, for the T2T service

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