Northwest NEWS

September 7, 1998


Guest Editorial

Make math, science part of daily life

   By Karen Blaha, NW Regional Educational Laboratory
   When it comes to kids and school work, most parents really want to help. Trouble is, so often we just don't know what to do. Especially with complex subjects such as science and math (where, ahem, not all of us applied ourselves as well as we should have) it's not hard to feel uneasy about how we could be helpful.
   Taking a practical approach, the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's Mathematics and Science Education Center offers parents and others some tips about how they can support kids as they take on challenging subjects.
   In pulling together materials for teachers to help families bolster math and science learning, center director Kit Peixotto and research writer Jennifer Stepanek came up with some pointers for parents.
   For example, they say it's important that students recognize and appreciate how math and science skills are used in the real world. Noting that parents don't always think about how they are using mathematics and science in everyday activities - such as cooking, paying bills, preparing budgets, shopping, reading maps, fixing appliances, keeping score during sports events - they urge parents to include their children in these activities. It's especially important that parents make sure the kids realize they're doing math and science when they participate in these types of tasks.
   One way parents can show their interest and help their children to think is by asking questions that stimulate learning. Here are some questioning techniques gathered from the research literature:
   To find other things you might do to help your kids with math and science, here are a few resources: "Helping Your Child Learn Science," by N. Paulu and M. Martin, suggests activities for children ages three through 10; and "Helping Your Child Learn Math," by N. Paulu, M. Martin and M. Scott, suggests activities for children ages five through 13.
   Both are free and published by the U.S. Department of Education (toll free: 1-877-433-7827.)