Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Begin each math homework session by asking your child to explain what he's supposed to do. By his response, you'll know if he can do the assignment alone or if you need to help him get started.

When helping your child, ask questions to guide him through the process, such as, "Where do you begin?" "What do you need to find out?" " Can you show me in a drawing how you got the answer?"

It's okay to say that you don't understand a problem. It gives you an opportunity to review the lesson together to see if you've missed some important piece of information.

Establish a clear understanding with your child's teacher(s) about the frequency and amount of homework he'll receive. Modification of homework may increase his motivation and how much work he does. With his teacher, decide if he needs to do fewer problems, or if he can say the answers out loud and you can write them for him, or if he can check his work with a calculator.

If you're not around when your child completes his homework, let him know that you'll look it over when you get home. Be sure to follow through. Tell him you're doing this to help him, not judge him.

When kids realize that math is all around them, they begin to relax and see its meaning in their lives. So use math in everyday life-count out forks to set the table, pour out a measured amount of milk, or practice telling time.

Show how math is more than learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Math also teaches us to analyze, reason, and plan. These are all useful skills that transfer over to reading and writing as well.

Model analytical and mathematical thinking. Be a problem solver, explore questions, and find solutions. Talk about likenesses and differences, and explain your reasoning.

Encourage your child to express his problem solving out loud so you can understand his reasoning.

When driving in the car, talk about how numbers help us determine how fast we drive, the distance traveled, mileage the car gets per gallon of gas, and how long it will takes to get home.

Expose your child to money in his early school years. Have him keep coins in a piggy bank and count them out regularly. If he receives an allowance, have him keep track of the amount or start a bank account.

Have your child use an analog and digital watch or clock to learn both methods of telling time.

Post a chart of math facts on the wall in his room. Some activities and games can help kids memorize math facts.

Computer learning games can also be used to reinforce skills. Most kids enjoy working on the computer. There are software programs to fit many skill levels. Older students may want to use calendars or spreadsheets in their daily or weekly schedule. Doing this will reinforce the many uses of math.

Incorporate games involving numbers and math into play. There are many types of games — from flash cards for learning basic math facts to games involving money, time, and logic.






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Get Good Grades said...

That's actually some quite good tips.. There's no doubt about asking those questions will help your child.

It's also very nice when you actually realize: Hey I need to understand this stuff, because it's actually being used!

Michele said...

Through the years, I've tutored quite a few students in mathematics. Virtually everyone I've encountered, young children up to middle-aged adults, who has trouble with math called it "different", "difficult" or some other derogatory comment. Sadly, upon reflection, every one of them recalled a parent or teacher reinforcing the thought that math is hard. No one says reading is "different". No one says history is "different". Only math seems to come with a built in excuse for not learning.

Along with the other great suggestions you've provided, I always caution parents and educators to not make math some strange, mysterious and complicated thing but to make it interesting, exciting and useful like you suggested. Keep it positive and for heaven's sakes don't tell your child that it was hard for you too.

I would also recommend for those parents who's children need extra help to find one of the many great homeschooling or free textbook sites which can offer a different way of explaining mathematical concepts which might just lead to one of those beautiful "Oh, now I get it" moments.

Family of Seven said...

I home school my kids, and we've found that learning math is easier once you've found out HOW your child learns best...I have one child that takes a looooong time to grasp new concepts, but once she does, she runs with it. There are a lot of board games (Monopoly, as an example) that we have used to teach math as well. And the kids don't even realize they're learning! LOL

kathy stemke said...

Thanks for all your great comments. I often tell kids that math is my favorite subject because it's like a puzzle that you have to figure out. That works for algebra and the higher grade math subjects.