Homework Tips for Parents

As the new school year is fully underway, most students are returning home with daily homework assignments. To avoid a fight over this work, we’ve compiled the following tips:

How much homework is too much?

The National Education Association recommends that students in first grade receive around 10-20 minutes of homework per night. This amount should grow by 10 minutes per year, which means that students in fifth grade should expect to receive around 50-60 minutes of homework per night. This estimate can vary more widely in middle school and high school as students take on different coursework, but if your child is taking on significantly more than is recommended or is having trouble completing it all, talk to other parents in the school. Are they encountering the same issue? If so, consider talking to your child’s teacher to see if he or she is aware of the issue. If your child is the exception, he or she may benefit from extra tutoring or an extra study period where your child can receive additional assistance through the school.

Organization is key

Leaving large projects for the last minute or forgetting about them entirely can be a huge issue for some students. Encourage your child to use an assignment book to track the due dates of projects and check in on a regular basis to see what progress they’re making. Free online tools, such as Asana can be used to break down larger projects into smaller tasks and assign due dates to each piece. It can even be used to coordinate group projects, where students each have their own account and individual tasks assigned to them. It also includes a conversation feature where students can brainstorm, upload files, and communicate with each other.

Create an environment conducive to getting homework done

One of the problems many students report that prevents them completing homework is a distracting environment. To help students focus on their homework, create a well-lit, quiet space away from distractions such as talking, TV, or cellphones. If students must use a computer for their work, consider limiting their access to the internet or certain websites so they aren’t tempted to spend their time chatting with their friends or checking social media. Programs such as Cold Turkey easily and temporarily limit these distractions by blocking specific websites, the internet in general, or even the entire computer.

Keep in contact with your child’s teacher

By regularly communicating with your child’s teacher, it’s much easier to find out if your child is missing assignments or struggling with particular concepts. Plus, if your child needs assistance, it’s helpful to teach it in the same way it’s taught in the classroom. Parents often report that they don’t understand their child’s homework or that concepts are being taught in unfamiliar ways. Avoid re-teaching concepts in a different way, even if it seems like a shortcut (particularly for math). Your child’s teacher is likely trying to teach the underlying concept before introducing shortcuts or different strategies.

The Science of Learning

A lot of research has been done into the science of how we learn, but how does it relate to online, game-based learning?

Brain-based research emphasizes the fact that engagement must be the goal of all educators. When students are not engaged, their minds wander and learning isn’t effective. When engaged, students are excited to learn. Higher levels of engagement are associated with students who want to learn more and apply what they have learned in the real world.

Every brain is unique, which means strategies need to include a variety of activities that build not only declarative knowledge but also underlying cognitive skills. A great way to accomplish this is by including online activities that motivate this new generation of digital natives. Game-based learning improves knowledge along with a variety of cognitive skills, including memory, thinking, processing, sequencing, and attention.

Because people absorb information differently, generally through some combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning, blended learning programs should include activities that call for movement and a hands-on approach to learning that addresses the physical learning system of the brain.

Most students today have grown up with technology and, in a sense, demand the engaging content that they have grown accustomed to through online gaming. Students expect to receive immediate feedback and move at their own pace, which frees them from the fear of failing and satisfies both the cognitive and the emotional centers of the brain. The core online skills that students develop can then be applied to offline and online activities that focus on problem solving, communication, and creativity. 

Assessing student knowledge is the key to success. Today’s assessments typically include a variety of interactive manipulatives and tools.  Through practice, students can concentrate on answering the content questions without having to figure out how to manipulate the technology, giving us a clearer picture of what they know and don’t know.

These new types of questions can actually stand alone as learning tools for students. Different question types (such as extended response, sorting information, placing numbers on a number line, etc.) give us a much more accurate picture of what a student truly understands versus the old method of filling in a bubble.

Not only is digital, game-based learning fun for students, it’s also supported by research and provides endless opportunities for educators.

Is Math Still an Important Skill to Learn?

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We’ve all heard the complaints from students about how they don’t believe math will be useful in their lives after school, but what about their parents? How do they value math as a subject worth learning, particularly in relation to other skills?

Survey Results

A recent survey of more than 2500 parents found that over a third of them believe that math is only useful for people going into math-related careers, so the average American doesn’t have much need for math. Researchers also noted that the parents tended to value reading skills over math. This creates an issue for teachers who must overcome this mindset from both students and their parents to not only teach math skills, but also teach the value of math in everyday life.

Early Math Skills

While most of the emphasis on early learning has been on reading, researchers have found that early math skills are just as important to long-term success. They believe the reason for this disconnect is two-fold: first, it’s much easier for programs to encourage parents to pick up a book to read with their child. Libraries can easily support this message as well. Second, there is a culture of anxiety around math in America. It’s much more culturally acceptable for people to claim they’re “just not a math person” than admitting that they can’t read well. Parents often have bad memories of not understanding math when they were younger, and the way math is taught changes often, with little visibility to parents. For these reasons, math is often left to schools with little support from home, or in early years.

Changing the Perception

As mentioned earlier, math skills are crucial from a young age. One long-term study found that math skills at the beginning of kindergarten were the best predictor of academic skills in eighth grade. In order to encourage parents to start working on math skills with their young children, it’s important for those who work with young children—such as kindergarten and preschool teachers—to explain to parents how to talk about math with their children. Activities from estimating the number of fish in a tank at the pet store to looking for patterns in the tiles laid out on the floor can strengthen early math skills. For teachers of older students, reinforcing the importance of math skills such as logical reasoning and critical thinking can help parents understand why math is such a crucial skill for everyone, not just those going into math-related careers.

To learn how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can make learning engaging and open a math dialogue between students and their parents or teachers, contact our team or try a free trial

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

Blending Learning Environments Help Engage Different Types of Learners in the Classroom

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Lately, we’ve been giving blended learning classrooms a lot of attention because of the benefits they provide for students. One of these benefits is how digital learning can incorporate different styles of learning, but just what are these different types and how can they be used? Although the number of different styles of learning varies depending on the source, most people can typically agree on the following four:

Visual Learners

This is the most common type of learner, encompassing around 60% of students. Students who are visual learners typically prefer demonstrations or descriptions of how something works. These students tend to be easily distracted when a lesson requires physically moving around the classroom. Digital learning can help these students by enhancing the types of visuals shown. Instead of simple diagrams in textbooks, it can show animations and the flow of how concepts relate. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by seeing three-dimensional animations of different shapes and how they have different numbers of faces and can unfold into a net.

Kinesthetic Learners

These students learn best when moving and acting out new lessons. They need to be highly involved in learning and often have a lot of energy. This type of learning tends to be more common in younger students, but can still be found in some older classrooms as well. Kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still and don’t retain information well in a traditional lecture. Many programs include hands-on activities for these students. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by physically measuring and counting units on different shapes. When sitting at their desk is necessary, digital learning makes it easier on these students by providing virtual manipulatives and engaging them often through clicking, dragging, and interacting with their computer or tablet.

Auditory Learners

Students who identify as auditory learners usually learn best through dialogue, discussion, and lecture. These are the students who can memorize content through repetition and solve problems by talking them out. However, they can be easily distracted when there is a lot of excess noise in a classroom. In a digital program, these students thrive when all instructions and explanations are read aloud to them, and they can focus better when wearing headphones. They typically do best when this approach is combined with the traditional methods of group discussion and teaching others a concept they have already mastered. These students would understand the concept of surface area best if it was explained aloud to them, step-by-step, and they then discussed it as a group.

Tactile Learners

Tactile learners are similar to kinesthetic learners, but don’t need to get up and act out concepts. Instead, they learn best by taking notes, drawing, or tinkering with objects. These are often the students who doodle during lectures, but still seem to retain the information instead of being distracted by the process. When learning through technology, these students need a program that asks them to follow along with new concepts by answering frequent questions and writing out responses. To understand the concept of surface area, tactile learners would follow along as it’s explained to them, drawing their own diagrams with accompanying notes. It’s important that if these students are using a digital program that they are still provided with a place to write and take notes.

What type of learner are you? It takes a lot of practice for teachers to teach in a way that reaches all these types of learners, which is why blended learning classrooms are so valuable. It’s an easy way to reach students who may be distracted or unengaged in a purely traditional classroom.

To learn more about how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can help you reach all types of learners, contact our team or try a free trial

 

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106