Math is one of the most difficult subjects for many people, and for kids, it can be especially frustrating. As a parent, you may feel helpless, standing by as your child struggles. You don’t have to feel that way, however. There are many easy, simple ways you can help your child’s math skills improve at home.
Keep an open dialogue with the teacher
This is something you’re already doing, most likely. But it’s important to keep doing it, and to be very open and honest with the teacher, as well as accepting the same openness and honesty from the teacher.
Ask how your child is doing in class, if the teacher is aware of his struggles. Ask for tips, recommendations for tutors, websites, or worksheets that you can use at home to improve things. If you struggle with math yourself, don’t hesitate to ask her to give you a little guidance and maybe even a little refresher course so that you can feel more confident.
Use the power of the web
Teachers will tell you that you need to learn math because you won’t always have a calculator. This may be true, but there’s no reason not to harness the power of technology to learn. Use sites like Khan Academy, which is full of math videos and offers problems to be solved after each video. This combines the lesson with the practical application, just like the classroom, but with the added benefit of being able to rewind the video and keep solving problems again and again until your child has mastered the skills.
If your child does better with paper and pencil, use the Internet to hit up educational websites that will allow you to print off worksheets. Many of these sites, create dynamic worksheets that are always different. Many can also be customized so that you can focus on just one skill or on a handful that need work.
Ask your child questions
Ask them to show you how they solved a problem, so you can see where they went wrong. Ask them to explain their understanding of a particular math term or how something applies. This not only helps you to understand what they know and don’t know, it helps your child get a better understanding because they have to think about it to put it into words.
Use real world math to make it more applicable
A worksheet full of math problems is just that. It has no real world application because it’s just a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it. But if you can get your child to engage in solving real world math problems with you, they might start to catch on much more quickly.
- Have them try to figure out the grocery total before you get to the checkout
- When you’re buying supplies for a home improvement project, have them help you figure out how many 2x4s you need or how much area you’re covering with carpet
- On a road trip, have them figure out how far you’ve driven, and how far you have left to drive
- Get them into the kitchen with you while you bake. Baking, particularly when you halve, double, or triple a recipe is a great way of learning fractions
Math may never be fun for your child, but if you can show that you’re in her corner and willing to help, you can make it easier. Be confident and patient, and her skills will improve with time. There are also great places to get assistance, like Mathnasium.