Easy and Practical Tips to Help Your Children With Their Math Homework

It doesn’t matter what level of school your child is currently enrolled in, it’s always a good idea to get them thinking about math. The reality is that if they want to go on to further education and a great career, a solid background in math is going to be absolutely crucial. You can help them get there by really taking the time to help them with their math homework. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to pull this off, as they are likely to already have some sort of grasp of what they are doing in class. Here are a few tips that you can use to help tutor your child with their math homework:

  1. Teach the basics first – you have to be able to walk before you can run, so make sure that your child understands the basics of math, as this will help them when they progress to more complex subjects. Flash cards are a great way to achieve this goal.
  2. Neat numbers – mathematical equations can be confusing enough without making them impossible to read. Try to make sure that your child writes down numbers and equations neatly, as this often makes them a little easier to see and understand.
  3. Master before moving on – make sure that your child fully grasps the problem they are working on before moving on to the next math problem.
  4. Get interactive – having your face stuck in a text book can be more than a little dull, so try to make learning fun by using object around the house that can be used to help solve math problems.
  5. Ask for a little more – ask your child to answer a few extra questions when they are doing their homework assignments. Going that extra mile will help ensure that they really do understand the mathematical concepts they are being taught.
  6. Test them regularly – when you are out and about with your child, pose them some questions to see how quickly they answer. For example, if you are grocery shopping and see a price has been marked down, ask them to quickly tell you how much the difference is between the old price and the new.
  7. Make time to study – try to get in the habit of studying at the same time every day, making sure it is at a time when you have no other commitments and can commit all the time to your child.
  8. Maintain a steady pace – don’t try to rush your child ahead, even if you are sure they are ready to move to the next level. Maintain a steady pace and always take time to recap what they have already learned.
  9. Keep at it – if your child is having a particularly difficult time with a particular concept, stick with it until they finally get it.
  10. Encourage – always be sure to praise your child for a job well done. Math can be tough for a young mind, so encourage them every step of the way.

If you have tried to really get involved with your child’s math homework, but still find that they are struggling, it might be time to consider a math tutor. You might just be surprised at how affordable math tutoring is, and you may be even more surprised at the great results your child will be able to achieve.

Four Tips for Multi-Team Early Childhood Assessments

School Psychology professionals and clinicians are often asked to complete multi-team assessments for early childhood and pre-kindergarten children. Here are four tips that may help professionals involved in multi-team early childhood assessments.

Tip One: A multi-team assessment can take many forms. Some school districts have the child go around to different clinician’s offices and they are tested or interviewed individually by the school psychologist, speech therapist, school nurse, special education teacher, general education teacher and other professionals if needed (such as the occupational therapist, physical therapist or vision and hearing specialist.). The clinicians then consult with each other after the family leaves the assessment offices. Other school districts may use a more play-based assessment system where the child is playing with other children and all the clinicians are watching the child at the same time. The clinicians can quickly share information and make determinations as to whether the child continues in the assessment and needs no further assessment, a screener or a full assessment.

Tip Two: Seek outside assistance if needed. Some clinicians just need more information than they get from a one time assessment. It may be necessary to obtain consent from the parent to contact outside agencies or organizations. This may include obtaining additional medical information, contacting preschools or day care programs the child is attending and social service or foster care agencies to get a better picture of the child. It may be necessary for the school psychologists and clinicians to make additional observations of the child as he or she interacts with same age peers in preschool. This outside assistance can help get a broader picture of how the child appears in different settings and situations.

Tip Three: Seek Parent or Guardian Input in the Multi-Team Assessment. Parents or guardians often know their young children best so it makes practical sense to collect as much information as possible from parents and caregivers. It is important to note that guardians can also have different perspectives about the child. The clinician or school psychologist can find similar factors that a parent or guardian reports, but the clinician can also note differences in reporting the results. Parents or guardians may not view the child in the same way so clinicians may have to share some unique or overlooked characteristics the child is presenting with in the assessment process.

Tip Four: Write Recommendations to Reflect Possible Changes in the Child. The clinicians and school psychologist may want to consider broad recommendations to understand the child may be making changes. Sometimes recommendations may include areas of the assessment where the child was inconsistent with task completion. It could be the child needs more practice to fully master a task or needs directions repeated to fully understand how to do an activity. There may also be inconsistencies in characteristics the child presents like limited eye contact that may need to be monitored or observed more as the child attends pre-school or participates in play activities.

Tips on Helping Your Child Become a Better Writer

The best way to help your child become a better writer is to separate the mechanics of writing (grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling) from the creative part. Your child’s strength is in his vivid imagination – an important asset in all writers. Help your child learn that writing is a two-stage process: the first stage is getting the ideas on paper; the second step is correcting or editing the work.

When writing the first draft of an essay or story, encourage your child to write things down in whatever form or order he is comfortable with. Once those ideas are in a written form, you can guide your child to developing a more polished version. If your child is very young, you will have to give a lot of help, but as he grows older, he will learn to do more for himself. Keep in mind that even professional writers hire editors to proofread and correct their work!

MIND MAPPING

A good technique for getting ideas to flow on the paper is to use mind-mapping. Your child will start with a main idea and then write down a few words or will draw a picture representing the idea in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. He will then draw lines that go out from the center for each main idea he has about the subject. At each line he should write a few words or draw a picture. He can also add details to each idea by writing even more words and connecting them with a line to the idea they relate to.

Once the ideas are written down in this mind mapping format, you can help your child develop them into written sentences, using the child’s map as a guide for developing the structure of his paragraph or essay.

POETRY

Introduce your child to poetry or verse. Try using free verse-poetry that does not have to have a particular rhythm or cadence, and does not have to rhyme. One of the advantages of writing poetry is that it frees the child from writing conventions, such as the need to use complete sentences. It also allows your child to experiment with the sounds of words and to use new words that are evocative of a particular mood or feeling.

Your child might enjoy writing haiku, mostly because it is short. Haiku traditionally has three lines consisting of seventeen syllables in total, usually arranged in lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Although the form is very brief, writing haiku will help your child develop sensitivity to the phonetic structure of word segments.

Another fun form of poetry is to make a slideshow poem. You can have your child take 5 or 6 photographs based on a theme (a recent trip, a family member’s life). Import the pictures into a software program such as PowerPoint or iPhoto and have the child write a poem based on the pictures by posting a word or two with each photo image. Make it really fun by adding special effects, transitions, or music to spice up the slideshow poem.

Teach your child how to write an acrostic poem. This is where the first letter of each line spells out his name when read from top to bottom. Once the child writes a poem based on his name, then he can write about family members, pets and friends.

PLAYS

You might also encourage your child to write a play, it is sometimes easier for the reluctant writer to focus only on the dialogue among the characters. Your child might enjoy presenting his play as a puppet show or using a video camera to make his own movie using his own written screenplay.

Writing, like reading is one of those tasks that will only improve through a lot of practice. Set up a designated writing area somewhere in your home and have writing material available to your child at all times. This includes markers, pencils, pens, and crayons, as well as coloring books, paper, and journals. Provide lots of writing opportunities for your child and above all – keep it fun!

10 Practical Tips For IEP Preparation

As a special education advocate and a special education attorney, I am frequently asked for advice on how to prepare for an IEP. Preparation is key even if attendance by the Parent includes having an advocate present.

Here is a top 10 list to consider in preparing for your IEP:

1. Notice: Make sure you’ve received ample notice from the school district about who is attending the IEP and make sure you have provided notice about who you are inviting. Also, notify the District of your intention to audio record the IEP meeting at least 24 hours in advance.

2. Preparation of Documents: Prepare a document list in chronological order from earliest year to latest year of all relevant documents in a binder that you will bring. Behind the list, include the documents. These documents should go back at least 3 years in time and include past IEP’s, classwork, notes from teachers and other educators, previous assessments and other relevant information for the IEP team to know. This will help you track progress and make sure the team has all the information necessary. Ask the school district for a copy of any and all relevant documents prior to the IEP team meeting and add this to your list.

3. Prepare Agenda Items: It’s never a good idea to surprise the IEP team with ideas at the meeting itself. Put together a brief list of items you would like the team to review and submit it to the appropriate school district representative in advance of the meeting. This should be done in writing.

4. Advocates: Consider bringing an advocate even if it’s someone like a family member. Often times this person can be seen as less adversarial and can help take the emotion out of the process so that focus is on your child. However, if there has been a stalemate on an issue, consider whether you require a special education attorney or special education advocate.

5. Ask for a draft of the IEP if possible: Often the District’s IEP team members have met prior to the IEP to discuss a draft IEP. It’s often a good idea to ask for a copy of this draft IEP in advance so that you can review it prior to the IEP team meeting and prepare your input.

6. Change your thinking about the IEP: Parents of special education students often feel that the IEP is a venting session. A good IEP is really a listening session. Be prepared to listen to the District’s team members even if you don’t agree. You can always provide your comments to the IEP even after the meeting concludes and have these written comments attached to the IEP document itself.

7. Review: If placement or other services, such as behavior therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy, are going to be considered at your child’s IEP, you should have an opportunity to talk to the providers and/or review the proposed placement in advance of the IEP meeting. This will give you a much better idea of whether the offers of placement or services are appropriate. This also contributes to your ability as a parent to give informed consent.

8. The Law: It’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with key phrases of the law but don’t come across as a legal bully. The IDEA, the federal law which govern special education and especially the IEP process, is supposed to be accessible to parents but the reality is it is a complex set of laws which is impacted by too many laws, cases, rules and guidance opinions for the lay person to understand.

9. Make sure you prepare questions: Do come with questions which have been prepared.

10. Know Your Child and Respect the Fact that Others Know Your Child Too: It’s critical to know that you may have a viewpoint about your child which is critical to the IEP team. However, teachers and other educators also have something helpful to provide to the IEP team as well as they spend time with your child. Considering their viewpoints doesn’t mean you have to agree.

The above list is not comprehensive and should not be construed as legal advice but it is an important list to consider when preparing for an IEP.

12 Tips For Involving Parents in the IEP Process

As special education teachers one of our main responsibilities is to develop Individual Education Programs (IEP’s) along with a team of individuals including the child’s parents or caregivers. The process is very time consuming for Special Education teachers. It is not usual spend upwards to several hours just gathering information and getting ready to conduct the IEP meeting as well as write it. Some IEP’s are only a few pages long but others, especially for a child who needs many services, can be twenty or more pages.

The purpose of the IEP is for a team to develop goals and objectives as well as outlining services the child needs for the at least the next year. IEP’s are written annually and some require revising or writing more often.

Each individual on the team is supposed to have input into helping develop the IEP goals. The key term here is “supposed”. While some team members are more involved than others, the burden of producing and writing a correct IEP is on the Special Education teacher.

As often happens, the Spec. Ed. teacher arranges the meeting, sends out the needed notices to the participants and then will write the IEP. While the goals and objectives are usually written during the meeting itself, the Spec. Ed. teacher has a good idea as to what goals to include. She has also spent time writing the narratives for other parts of the IEP.

Team members who are invited to the meeting have little or no input into the process and will just show up to sign the document produced. Ideally, the team members who should have most of the input into the IEP are the Spec. Ed teacher, classroom teacher, key support personnel and the parents.

The struggle that most Spec. Ed. teachers face is how to get the parents to become more of a participant in the IEP. Parents along with their child are the key stake holders in developing an appropriate IEP. What can Spec. Ed teachers do to get parents more involved in the process?

Here are 12 tips for Special Ed teachers to get the parent involved in the process:

1. Prior to the IEP meeting, the Special Ed. teacher should interview the parent to see what their concerns are for their child and what goals and objectives they would like to see implemented in the IEP.

2. At least a week before the meeting, send home a list of possible goals and objectives for the parent to review and make additions to or corrections to them.

3. Probably the most important is to set a time for the meeting that is mutually agreeable to all but most especially the parent.

4. Be sure during the meeting to welcome comments and concern that the parent may have. Ask questions specifically addressed to them. Don’t let anyone interrupt them.

5. If a parent begins to speak, let them and be sure that others allow time for them to talk as well. If team members feel the need to talk among themselves while the parent is talking, ask them to go out of the room so that a parent does not have to compete with others attention.

6. Keep a steady flow of communication with the parents all the time – not just at the IEP meeting.

7. Keep the parent appraised of what is happening with their child. This means not just report card or parent conference time. This means at other times as well. This way the parent can know what is working and what isn’t working.

8. Let the parent know of successes their child has experienced as well as what things need to be done differently.

9. During the meeting be sure to acknowledge the parent as a part of the team and let the other members of the team know that what they are saying and discussing is important.

10. As teachers we get very attached to the children we work with, especially those that we work with for multiple years. It is important that we keep in mind that this child, for whom we are meeting, is not our child but belongs to the parent. We may not always agree with the parent but their wishes should be considered and acknowledged.

11. The most important skill we can develop as facilitators of meetings is to listen, listen and listen when the parent talks. This means active listening – with eyes and ears.

12. Lastly, let the parent know that you care about their child and about them as a family. Parents of children with Special Needs often need reassuring that their child is a part of the classroom, has friends and others who care for them.

Try these tips and see if they help to get parents more involved in the IEP process.