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## Preparing Students For High School Maths

A guide for primary school teachers

A high school math teacher’s wish list

What has happened in recent years, as more and more students finish high school and go on to higher education, is an increase in the number of parents who want their children to do math at a higher level. . They see mathematics as the key to entry into higher education and insist that their children have the opportunity to take the subject at the highest level possible, even going against the school’s advice on the subject. .

Therefore, high school math teachers must teach almost all students for all of their high school years, regardless of their innate ability in the subject.

This trend is not going away and high school teachers need the help of elementary school teachers to prepare their students to enter the rigors of high school math.

This article is written based on my experience both as a high school math teacher and as a math director who often had to advise parents on what was best for their students in the subject. Much of what I write here was presented to elementary school teachers at a workshop on the subject.

Most, if not all, of the points I make in this article will be familiar to experienced primary school teachers, so it is aimed more at newcomers to the profession.

Mathematics is a discipline where the student must develop his understanding of mathematics. The rules and procedures of learning can only take the student so far. It won’t help in the modern world of real math problems in unfamiliar contexts.

To help prepare students for high school mathematics, upper primary teachers should attempt to develop the following in their students.

- A work ethic and personal motivation. Often math students will have to work alone and unaided.
- An ethic of duties. The teaching speed of curriculum requirements in high school is dictated by outside authorities. This means that the teacher must cover a compulsory program within a specific time limit. For the student, this means that homework is an essential part of the learning process if they want to keep up with the teaching.
- A study ethic. It is important for students to learn that homework is not synonymous with studying.
- A belief that all students can do math.
- An understanding that math is an essential part of everyday life and that we all do mathematical things successfully every day, often automatically.
- A belief among students that asking math questions is a “cool” thing to do.
- A belief among students that math is unisex, not just for boys.

Below is a list of what I call essential preparation which is not directly mathematical but which will greatly help students in their study of mathematics as well as other subjects.

Students should learn:

- Study skills
- How to be powerful listeners
- How to ask questions
- Control procedures
- Estimation as a control instrument
- Various problem solving techniques
- An efficient implant procedure
- That the answer alone is not enough. Students must explain in written mathematical form how they arrived at their answer.
- That there is often more than one way to solve a problem
- An understanding of the order convention
- Examination technique

Communicating mathematically is a skill that must be taught. This involves students learning the following:

- The correct use of mathematical terms, including their spelling;
- Correct use of all mathematical symbols;
- Logical layout;
- Justification of each step if necessary;
- Logical reasoning;
- The use of sharp and clear figures, precise and appropriate diagrams;
- Work vertically down the page for easy checking and eliminating copy errors;
- Translation from one form of expression to another, e.g. numerical/verbal data into diagrams/tables/graphs/equations, and
- Correct and appropriate use of units, e.g. area, volume, etc.

Finally, you can give your students a taste of high school classes by doing the following. (You might call these suggestions an action plan).

- Set up your classroom with desks in rows and teach a number of “Chalk and Talk” lessons.
- Insist that students work alone while doing math exercises in a quiet environment.
- Use manual exercises.
- Hold formal, timed exams in a formal classroom setting.
- Do problem-solving exercises regularly. Those in unfamiliar contexts so they get used to the idea that problem solving is an everyday occurrence, not just something that happens during assessment.

As I mentioned in the title of this article, this is a high school math teacher’s wish list. Anything you can do as an elementary teacher to help develop this wish list would be greatly appreciated by math teachers, but more importantly, will help students enter the rigors of high school math with more trust.

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