For someone who didn’t have a very pleasant experience with math classes growing up, there is one dreaded phrase that strikes fear in their heart:
“Mom / Dad, can you help me with my math homework?”
And even though you had a tough time in school when it came to math, that doesn’t mean it needs to be that way for your kid, too. As teachers and the field of math continue to develop, we’ve learned that the frustration when it comes to math is more about attitude than aptitude. This means that you can best help your kids learn math by the way you approach their math studies.
So in this guide, we’re going to going over the key steps you should follow to help your kids learn math and even how to approach this “new math” you’ve heard so much about. Let’s get started!
Tips to help kids learn math
The most important step is to simply stay positive in the face of math homework. You want to be an example of how to handle things that seem difficult or complicated. This is true outside of the realm of math, as well. You’d be surprised how much our children learn from the indirect or subtle things we do, so it’s absolutely crucial to remain positive when they request math help.
Likewise, try to avoid the typical “I’m no good at math”, “I hate math” “I can’t understand it either”, phrases. Sure, even if it’s true – we want to make our children’s lives easier, so the best thing to do is to stay away from these negative feelings. It’s like they always say: Attitude is everything!
Try New Math Yourself
You have probably already noticed that your child’s homework isn’t exactly the same homework you worked on in school. So how are you supposed to help your child learn math if you don’t even recognize it?
Well the answer is simple – practice it yourself! This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip, if you are open to learning about new ways to think about math, your kid will follow in your footsteps. It’s understandable that you are frustrated when a 4th grader’s homework seems complicated to you at first, but this is an opportunity for you both!
Math, like many things in education, is constantly evolving. So it’s normal that you don’t recognize what your kids are learning, but your willingness to make the effort will show your child that they can accomplish anything.
Communicate With Your Kid’s Teacher
If you are really stumped, it’s helpful to make sure you are effectively communicating with your child’s teacher. Not only will they be able to help you identify trouble areas with your child, but they’ll be able to direct you to resources where you can help your kid learn math.
Remember, your kid’s teacher is an education professional, so it’s likely they have some proven strategies that you can implement one-on-one with your child. So, for example, if they know your child is having difficulties with multiplication techniques, they can point you to some games and educational videos that you can watch together at home.
This way, not only do you help your child learn math, but you’ll also step up your math skills, too! By communicating with your kid’s teacher, you’ll be able to teach your child that learning is a constant road and that you’re not afraid to walk down it with them.
One Step at a Time
Remember that solving math problems involves logic and strategy. This means that you need to help your kid learn logic by taking small, individual steps as you explain everything to them. Even if some steps are easy for you, maybe it isn’t so simple for them, so remember to always take things one step at a time.
For example, long division is often a multi-step process. Make sure you go over each step with them one by one. This way, you can identify any problem areas at the source. So take your time, be patient, and you’ll end up helping your kid learn math and developing their problem-solving skills at the same time.
This goes back to the idea that attitude is everything. If your child is curious about how to solve a specific math problem, then you should absolutely reinforce that curiosity. Encourage your child to become curious about math and actually want to learn the topics. So if your child asks you questions about a different topic, don’t push them away from that curiosity. Encourage them to take the time to learn that concept. By doing this, you’ll be helping your child grow a positive disposition towards math.
You can also encourage curiosity by doing more interesting types of activities when they need to practice a specific topic. For example, instead of telling them to endlessly do worksheets, try searching for some math games online about the topic. This way, they’ll see that math is more than just seemingly pointless worksheets.
Talk About Math Outside of Homework
Speaking of pointless worksheets, another one of the biggest ways you can help your child learn math is by talking about math frequently. Don’t limit yourself to only talking about math in the context of school.
For example, when you are going for a walk in the park, raise questions such as:
- “In what way do you think they calculated how much water to put in the fountain?”
- “How long does it take them to cut the grass?”
- “How many flowers do you think are in the park?”
These are simple questions, but by incorporating math into normal conversation, your child will see that math is applicable to real life and, therefore, will help keep them interested.
You Can Sign Up for a Class Yourself!
If these 6 tips aren’t enough, consider signing up for a math class yourself! You can put yourself back in your child’s shoes and see what it’s like to be studying math again. And of course, you can follow these tips and apply them to yourself!
It’s like they say – every day you learn something new. By following these 6 tips to help your kid learn math, you’ll both turn into Math Whizzes in no time!