Q:

My daughter is being drowned in new terms in math in fourth grade and having a difficult time remembering them. Is there any easy way for children to learn math terms? -- Want to Help

A:

Believe it or not, one of the hardest subjects for children to read in fourth grade is math. It is loaded with vocabulary terms and is often at a reading level above the child's. Fortunately, there are ways that your daughter can learn to remember math vocabulary. She needs to use a strategy in which she will actively work with the words.

One helpful strategy involves using a graphic organizer called Verbal Visual Word Association. Have your daughter draw a square and divide it into four equal boxes. When she meets a new word, she will write it in the upper left-hand box, then she will write the definition of the word in the box beneath it. She will be able to get the definition from either the text or the glossary in the back of the book. The next step is for her to draw a picture of the term opposite the word itself. She probably will be able to use an illustration from her textbook. The visual representation of a word makes it much easier for a child to remember the word. The final step is for your child to think of a personal association that will help her remember the word. For example, if the word were "cone," she could draw the cone of a volcano with lava erupting from it. Or she could choose to draw a birthday party hat. Some children prefer to write a sentence instead of drawing a picture. So your daughter might write a sentence that says: A cone is shaped like an ice-cream cone or a party hat.

Another thing that she might do for words like "pentagon," "parallelogram" or "trapezoid" is to actually build these shapes out of construction paper or cardboard. This would ensure that she knows all the properties of these shapes.