Why is it beneficial to use manipulative in teaching math?
Using manipulative whenever possible, and across all grade levels, allows students to construct their own cognitive models for abstract mathematical ideas and processes. Using manipulative while learning math gives students a common language to communicate these models to the teacher and other students. Manipulatives engage students in the learning process and increases both interest in and enjoyment of math. Students who have been given the opportunity to use manipulatives report that they are more interested in math. If students are more interested in math, that often translates to increased ability in math.
What is the difference between whole language and phonics instruction when it comes to teaching children how to read?
Whole language is an approach to reading and spelling that encourages students to read by sight rather than by sounding out words. Whole language emphasizes literature and text comprehension. Students are taught to use critical thinking strategies and to use context to "guess" words that they do not recognize. Phonics instruction teaches spelling and reading through a systematic approach, teaching students letter sounds first, and then how to blend them to form words. Students also learn how to segment and chunk letter sounds together in order to blend them to form words, such as "tr," "cl," etc.
What can parents do to support literacy in the home?
One of the best ways to support literacy in the home is by reading aloud to one's children. Reading aloud to children should not conclude when a child learns how to read or when a enters formal schooling in Kindergarten. Reading aloud to children should extend well through their middle school years. With young children, it builds word-sound awareness, stimulates language and cognitive skills, and also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. Reading aloud to older children increases their background knowledge, and allows them to engage with language and ideas that are above their actual reading level. Book language is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures so students are learning to develop their language capacity simply by listening. Reading aloud also provides opportunities to engage with real life situations where teachable moments can be utilized.