Creating a Math Reference Notebook

Got a student who struggles in math?  Many have difficulty recalling the processes they learned last month or last year.  When the class or curriculum moves on to a new topic, it’s like they completely forget about what they’ve just studied.  For example, every year math programs cover fractions.  In the early grades, the ideas include identifying fractions, reading fraction names, and coloring fractional parts.  By the time kids hit the middle grades, they are studying simplifying fractions and completing operations.  Each year’s work builds on the previous term’s concepts.  If your student forgets these things from year to year, it’s like they have to start over each time, and they fall farther and farther behind.

One cure for this common issue is to create a math notebook.  Once you teach your student how to do this, it can turn into an independent self-help activity.  You’ll need a larger ring-binder type notebook and some paper to get going.  Dividers are nice, too.

Now, each time a new math concept or process is introduced, make a new page for the math notebook.  The page should be titled with the skill name.  Write step-by-step directions (in the child’s own words and preferably own handwriting!) for solving that type of problem.  Include a step-by-step solution to a sample problem, as well.

Keep the notebook handy!  Add to it each time a new idea is taught.  Then, when the subject comes up again, or when the student needs to use a previously-learned skill, you have a handy reference.  When your child can’t recall how to simplify fractions, for example, you can turn right to the page that was written last year when the idea was introduced.  Add to it as new refinements are taught, and you’ll have a reference resource that will last a lifetime and be a real boon to your struggling math student.

Remember, if you have questions about this or any other educational concern, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below!  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!