The Shift to the Common Core
IDCS has been transitioning to the Common Core over the past couple of years. You have no doubt noticed changes in your child's school and home work. Common Core standards encourage depth, rather than breadth, in mastering topics. It also emphasizes a student's ability to analyze and explain their answers rather than simply knowing how to come up with the correct ones.
Teaching things like fractions, division and other math essentials may look really different from how parents (and teachers!) learned it. Teachers often present the concepts differently, sometimes incorporating unfamiliar timelines and drawnout charts and models. Sometimes it may look like math is being made more complicated, when really we're teaching students to deeply understand the concepts that underlie traditional algorithms.
IDCS has been transitioning to the Common Core over the past couple of years. You have no doubt noticed changes in your child's school and home work. Common Core standards encourage depth, rather than breadth, in mastering topics. It also emphasizes a student's ability to analyze and explain their answers rather than simply knowing how to come up with the correct ones.
Teaching things like fractions, division and other math essentials may look really different from how parents (and teachers!) learned it. Teachers often present the concepts differently, sometimes incorporating unfamiliar timelines and drawnout charts and models. Sometimes it may look like math is being made more complicated, when really we're teaching students to deeply understand the concepts that underlie traditional algorithms.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT MY CHILD IN LEARNING THE NEW MATH STANDARDS?The following is adapted from the PBS Parents website:
If you’re a parent of a schoolaged child in the United States, you’ve no doubt heard of the Common Core standards. These standards aim to better prepare students from kindergarten through 12th grade for higher education and career success. While some aspects of the Common Core are new, many are not. So let’s start with what is NOT new about Common Core:
Indeed, there is a greater focus on these core topics than was typical of state standards before the Common Core. This brings us to what IS new. To put it simply: the standards expect students to understand what they are doing so they are able to use and apply mathematics when they leave the classroom. Who doesn’t want their children to think about what they are doing? Teachers and parents have been aiming for this for years. We tell them, “Think about what you’re doing!” in other situations all the time: as they’re crossing the street, as they’re learning to play an instrument, as they’re making an important decision. Now teachers and parents are supported by standards that lay out clear and coherent trajectories toward building a better understanding of mathematics, so children are less likely to lose their skills after graduation. For example, many of today’s parents learned to add whole numbers by using the socalled standard algorithm: lining numbers up vertically and adding each column, carrying when necessary. This traditional method is still required by Common Core. But how many of today’s parents understand why it works? If you learned this way, it’s likely that the “how” of doing the calculation has been drilled into your head, but the “why” has been lost. Knowledge not supported by understanding is fragile. Today, through the standards, kids learn mental strategies for addition and subtraction that help them use the standard algorithm with common sense about how those operations work. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to use the standard algorithm to subtract 998 from 1001, when you can see that 1001 is 3 more than 998, so 1001 – 998 = 3. Mental strategies based on understanding make procedural knowledge flexible, applicable to other disciplines and situations. As a result of the math standards, you can expect to see your child learn a better balance between procedural fluency (the “how”) and conceptual understanding (the “why”), so that she will develop the ability to apply mathematics in solving all kinds of problems. And that’s a skill that will serve your child for the rest of her life. So, what do you as a parent need to know about the Common Core? Here are three things to remember:
The Common Core standards are both old and new. As a parent, you should expect many things from these standards, but above all you should expect your child to reap the benefits of what’s new. For more information about the Common Core standards, visit CoreStandards.org. And check out these links for additional information: 

Some tips on building strong study habits
Designate a spot for doing homework. Select the spot with your child to help him or her to feel that this is a place to focus and work, rather than a place of punishment.
Designate a specific time for homework.
· Keep distractions minimal.
Be available so your child knows that you’re interested. Help to focus your child to get him or her started.
Assist your child where necessary, without taking over the work as your own. Let the teacher know if you notice your child is struggling with an assignment.
While helping your child with homework, remember that process is more important than product. Put another way, it’s more important that you focus on helping your child learn “how” to complete the assignment rather than getting the “right” answer. We need to help our children learn to use resources, solve problems and arrive at answers. Answers are often proof of learning, but they are not the learning itself.
Designate a spot for doing homework. Select the spot with your child to help him or her to feel that this is a place to focus and work, rather than a place of punishment.
Designate a specific time for homework.
· Keep distractions minimal.
Be available so your child knows that you’re interested. Help to focus your child to get him or her started.
Assist your child where necessary, without taking over the work as your own. Let the teacher know if you notice your child is struggling with an assignment.
While helping your child with homework, remember that process is more important than product. Put another way, it’s more important that you focus on helping your child learn “how” to complete the assignment rather than getting the “right” answer. We need to help our children learn to use resources, solve problems and arrive at answers. Answers are often proof of learning, but they are not the learning itself.