Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Yes it’s that time of year again. You know, when the easy listening stations play Christmas music non-stop. One of the songs I have been thinking about lately is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. With unemployment in Southern Nevada in double digits, the H1N1 flu virus stalking, and armed conflicts half way around the globe, it can sometimes be hard to be “merry”.
So with that gloomy backdrop you may ask, “How and why should I be cheerful, thankful or even merry”?
One of the biggest reasons to be happy is for our children. Children take cues from their parents. Those cues are both positive and negative. Choosing to be positive, in spite of life’s challenges, will help our children.
Knowing it’s important to be happy is not the same thing as actually being happy. Of course there are real cases of depression that don’t respond to a simple pep talk, but there are also many sour people in the world that could jump out of their pool of self-pity with some thoughtful reflection of how they have been blessed. Gratitude so very often is the antidote to depression. As the holiday season is upon us, I would implore each of us to choose to have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Great Kwanzaa.
Mark Sherwood, Publisher
Congratulations to Bob Lau who was November’s contest winner. Bob won a family four pass to Legoland in Carlsbad, California.
In December ParentsGuide of Las Vegas is giving away four movie passes to Brenden Theaters and one free 2010 Entertainment Book. To enter send an e-mail to Contest@ParentsGuideLV.com.
By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington
If the sight of an algebraic equation or a chalkboard full of fractions makes your children want to run for their lives, they’re not alone. Regardless of how smart or hardworking they are, many students struggle mightily with mathematics. Yet they’re going to have to master a good bit of it once they reach middle school and even more if they want to graduate and go to college. You should also keep in mind that mathematics skills are vital for success in many of today’s most interesting – and lucrative – careers.
One of the first steps on the path to improvement is to understand what’s expected of your child. Most states and school districts have a set standard for the level of mathematics that every public school student should know and be able to do by each grade. You can usually find this information by going to the Web site for your child’s school district or your state department of education.
Because education policies are developed at the local level, there will be differences from state to state. Many states take their cue from The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which has developed national standards that can be adopted at the state and district level. Here are some highlights of what your child should be learning at each level of K-12 schooling, based on NCTM recommendations.
In pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade, students are developing the foundation for future learning, so it’s important to focus on the basics right away. According to the NCTM, children should understand whole numbers and commonly used fractions such as 1/4, 1/3 and 1/2. They should also be able to recognize, name, build, draw, compare and sort two-and-three dimensional shapes. By the second grade they should also be able to sort and classify objects by size, recognize two and three dimensional shapes and understand the attributes of length, weight, volume, area and time.
From the 3rd to the 5th grade, students should develop a solid understanding of fractions, decimals and percents. They should also be able to represent and compare whole numbers and decimals. They should be assembling the building blocks of algebra by analyzing patterns and functions, and be preparing for advanced geometry studies by being able to classify two-and three-dimensional shapes according to their properties. They should also be exploring numbers less than 0 and be able to carry out conversions, such as from centimeters to meters.
Grades 6-through-8 are important for both psychological and mathematical reasons. During these middle school years, students are developing firm conclusions about their abilities and limitations. Children who adopt the attitude that “I’m just not good at math” will find this to be a self-defeating prophecy while those who make steady progress develop the confidence that’s vital for higher-level work. This means being able to use fundamental algebraic and geometric concepts to solve problems, understanding ratios, proportions, prime numbers, and exponents and – according to the NCTM – being able to “create and critique inductive and deductive arguments concerning congruence, similarity and the Pythagorean relationship.”
During the 9th-through-12th grades, students will face their greatest mathematics challenges. By the 12th grade, a student must be able to solve problems using algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and discrete mathematics. This means being able to understand and use formulas to determine the area and volume of geometric figures, understanding the characteristics of well-designed studies such as those used in surveys and experiments, and understanding how to use Cartesian coordinates and other coordinate systems.
In order to do all of this — and much more as recommended by the NCTM — a typical student will need to have done well in both basic and advanced courses in algebra and geometry. In many states, public school students will also be tested in these courses on exams that they must take to graduate.
If your child is struggling to reach these basic levels, you need to get help right away. Begin by talking with your child’s teachers and ask for an honest assessment of any obstacles that may be getting in the way of success. Does your child pay close attention in class? Are homework assignments being completed satisfactorily? Or is the problem rooted in inadequate preparation in earlier grades?
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington and Eileen Huntington are co-founders of Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years. For more information about Huntington, call 1 800 CAN LEARN.
On Nov. 6, Kumon Math & Reading Centers from around Las Vegas and Henderson joined forces to donate 1,800 books to Spread the Word Nevada. The books were collected by students of the after-school math and reading program, and donated in honor of National Book Month.
Also Nancy Patel, a parent of a Kumon Math & Reading Center student, facilitated a $1,000 donation from her employer, Walmart. Tish Ackley, a Walmart representative, was on-hand at the book donation to present Sherry Walker, Director of Development for Spread the Word Nevada, with the generous check.
Thanks to all the students, parents and faculty at Kumon for their support of Spread the Word Nevada.
From left, are Roberta Darrow (Kumon), Sherry Walker (Spread the Word Nevada), Nancy Patel and Tish Ackley (Walmart).