How can you better understand what and how your child is learning math? Here are some questions to ask the school about the math curriculum. You can also read up on math instruction programs before talking with the school.
How do you structure your math curriculum?
- Are you using a research-based approach to teaching math? Could you describe it?
- What training do teachers have in using this approach?
- Do you use a program created by a publisher, something else or a combination? Could you describe it?
- How long have you been using the program? Is it used throughout the school district?
- Is it entirely computer based, or does the program also use a textbook and workbooks?
- Does it use manipulatives, such as blocks and counting cubes?
- Does it use a approach—building new skills on old skills? Or does it use a spiral approach—teaching older skills along with the new lesson?
- Does your program allow for kids to learn at their own pace?
How do you identify students who are struggling with math?
- Are all students screened for grade-level math skills? If so, how do you screen them and how often?
- What do you expect from kids at my child’s grade level? (Examples might include math facts and skills they’ve mastered.)
- How do you decide which students need extra help?
- What staff members provide this extra help, and what are their qualifications?
- How do you measure the effectiveness of the extra help?
What resources do you have available for struggling students?
- What type of help is available for students who are struggling? Do you use a research-based intervention program?
- Beyond the classroom teacher, who else is available to work with students? What are their qualifications?
- Is there a math specialist on staff?
- Is small group instruction available?
- Are there resources, like websites, that I can use to follow along and help my child at home?
How effective is the math instruction?
- How has the school performed on state and standardized tests for the past few years?
- If scores are (or were) low, what are you doing to improve them?
- Do you measure annual student growth in math? How?
- What is the school’s greatest strength in math instruction?
- Where does the school need to improve its math program?
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Kristen L. Hodnett, MSEd is a clinical professor in the department of special education at Hunter College in New York City.