Parent Tips

Rekenreks: a math tool made up of two coloured beads separated into two rows of ten beads each.  Picture provided below.  A little bit like a small abacus.

This tool is used in our classroom to play games with numbers.  We call one of our games:  SHOW ME THE NUMBER!

A single die with numerals is rolled and the players must 'deconstruct' the number into two parts, using beads from the top and bottom rows to show the amount.

- a player rolls the number 6
- other players try to guess how the player who rolled the die will deconstruct 6
- these players configure the beads, then one-by-one they show their guesses
- the player to roll discloses her/his particular choice (scores can be kept using tallies - a lesson for another day)
- possible ways to deconstruct the number 6:
3 and 3, 4 and 2, 2 and 4, 5 and 1, 1 and 5, 6 and 0, 0 and 6
- it would look like this on the rekenrek:
3 beads on top, 3 beads on bottom (3 and 3)
4 beads on top, 2 beads on bottom (4 and 2)
2 beads on top, 3 beads on bottom (2 and 4)

We can use different dice to play with higher numbers (dice that have 6, 11, 12 or 20 faces on them).  
These exercises are helpful in developing visualization skills that support number concepts relevant to calculations.

Math Concepts/Skills:  Subitizing

What it means:  to subitize is the ability to recognize quantity without having to count the discreet objects in a group.

Example: recognizing the different configurations of dots on dice as representations of specific numbers.  We can all imagine what 5 or 6 look like on a die's face.

Math is visual.  It is important for children to be able to conceptualize and mentally manipulate in order to become proficient in mathematics.

We will be working on developing this particular skill with hand-on, practical experiences.  Building their familiarity with concrete tasks will help them to develop future mental strategies that are required for higher level problem-solving in mathematics and sciences.

At home, children can be exposed to simple card and board games where counting is an essential part of the game (Games like, War, Trouble, Sorry).  

Early Reading Behaviours:

1.  Know that print carries a message

We are seeking the meaning behind what is written.

2.  Track print

We are looking at gaining control of 1:1 correspondence.  This means being able to say one word for every word on the page.  Students are encouraged to look at the words by pointing below the ones that they are reading.  We insist on developing crisp, clear and well-defined pointing.  An essential skill required when reading more complex text in future.

3.  Sight word Vocabulary

Begin to build a bank of words that are immediately recognized.  This is a repertoire of High Frequency Words.  The ones we use (hear, say, read and write) most often in our language.

Letter recognition:

Letters can be identified by name or sound.  When playing with the flashcards at home, accept either and offer the other way once your child has done so.  (i.e., if your child makes the sound when a letter cart is flashed, then you say the name or even ask for it).
When your child is not sure or confuses one letter with another, give your child the correct response and have her/him repeat it while looking at the letter.
We are only using 6 letters at a time, to be reviewed regularly.  This could be a number of times a day.  It is quick and not meant to cause anyone any grief...a playful interaction is intended.  Letters will be exchanged for new ones as learning occurs.

It is not just about numbers.  Spatial reasoning has been a recent focus in math learning.  Spatial reasoning goes beyond geometry and involves visualizing, mentally manipulating objects, negotiating space, learning about direction.  We explore these concepts through play and games to support student learning at a practical level.  Spatial reasoning skills are closely related and support growth in other areas in math, especially when thinking about a number line and being able to visualize it in one's head in order to work with numbers to do mental math.  Many of our number sense experiences use visual supports to help students 'see' the math.

Conversation with your child.
Some of you may know Erin Waters and Momastery.  She makes a suggestion for sparking conversation with your child.  Search the web for The Key Jar to find 48 question to ask you child. 

Victoria Prooday 
is a Registered Occupational Therapist with an extensive experience working with children, parents and teachers. She offers some advice to us...She has a YouTube channel called Parenting Tricks 101

The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience.  If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!


You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally

  • Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights
  • Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening

2. Train delayed gratification

  • Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
  • Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
  • Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games
  • Limit constant snacking

3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!

  • Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
  • Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.
  • Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!
  • Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games

4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”

  • Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed
  • Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.

5. Teach social skills

  • Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others , using “please and thank you”

From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting.  Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!


Independence for Children
- this can be supported by allowing them to do things for themselves, especially when they show interest in doing a particular task.  This could mean that you have to build in some added preparation time before leaving for an outing, so that your child can get the clothing all done up on her/his own.

At school, we do this by starting nutrition breaks ahead of time.  This gives students time to manage their containers before and after they eat, as well as clean up any messes that occur.