2005-01-06 / Other News


When do students learn fractions?  I thought it used to be in fourth-grade, but now my second grader is learning them.  When do they learn decimals?  
When do students learn fractions? I thought it used to be in fourth-grade, but now my second grader is learning them. When do they learn decimals? Curricula inevitably vary from state to state, and naturally change over time. However, I think it’s safe to assume that by second grade the topic of fractions in math will have been introduced. Once students have learned that fractions name equal parts of a whole, then decimals may be introduced as well. By fourth grade, students may be learning how to add and subtract fractions and decimals, and by sixth grade, they could be multiplying and dividing them.

As I indicated before, some states, New York for one, have revised the math curriculum recently. If you’d like to know more about when certain topics are introduced, and when they are to be mastered, then check your school web site for a local curriculum document. You can also go to your state education web site to investigate further. If you want more information than that, or if your school doesn’t have a web site, talk to your child’s teacher or the director of curriculum at your local school district.

You can help your child understand the concept of fractions by allowing her to assist you when you use measuring cups or make estimations such as half, or quarter of something. Also, show your child that the clock is divided into four quarters or two halves, which is why we say “quarter past” or “half past” the hour.

The school wants to hold a Child Study Team meeting about my daughter who’s been having difficulty keeping up academically with her peers. What can I expect to happen at the meeting? Do I have to attend?

Most schools have some form of a child study team where teachers get together to discuss a student’s progress. The meeting can take many different forms. Some teams include only teachers who are currently working with the student, but other child study teams include other teachers who have no classroom contact with the student, but who may be able to offer fresh ideas and suggestions. The Child Study Team may also include specialists: music or art teachers, remedial teachers, the school counselor, perhaps the principal or even the nurses.

A Child Study Meeting may take place before a student is considered for a special education program, but it does not mean that because a CST meeting has taken place that a student is automatically being considered for a special education program.

At the actual meeting, the professionals assembled will discuss your daughter’s educational situation and offer suggestions about how to help her become a more successful student. You should go prepared to take notes, if you wish, and feel free to discuss what methods you use at home when you help her with her homework. It may be useful for you to call the classroom teacher ahead of time to inquire about the format of the meeting so you know exactly how long the meeting will be, where it will take place, and what the possible outcomes may be. Since the school staff will be talking about your daughter, and you’ve been invited to attend, you should be there.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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