We are in an unprecedented time. Parents are now being asked to take on parenting, teaching, and possibly working from home. As a classroom teacher and parent, I know one of the most challenging subjects to tackle at home is math. I hear from many parents who want to help their children at home, but seem to end up clashing with their kids. Often, it is not about the math skills, but about how you approach your child. Below are a few steps you can take to a smoother experience with math homework.
Top Tips for Helping Your Child with Math Homework
Tip #1 Empower Your Child to Set Realistic Goals
Start at the beginning. Have your child set a realistic goal for themselves. Are they going to do one page of math today? How about 45 minutes? Make sure they decide. For students in 1st-5th grade, 45 minutes is a lot.
Tip #2 Help Your Child Break Down the Problem
If your student is solving a word problem, have them underline the main question, then circle the numbers in the question, they think they will use. Then ask them what they think they are going to do with the numbers (add, subtract, multiply, or divide).
Tip #3 Encourage Your Child Each Step of the Way
Be relentlessly positive. Give them praise each step of the way. Even if they are struggling, let them know, “If you are struggling, you are on the right track” Or, you can say, “I see what you are thinking, have you tried (specific strategy) instead?” Let them know they are doing good work.
Tip #4 Lead Your Child Through the Process
Coach them through solving the problem, rather than doing it for them, showing an example, or giving them the answer. You can ask, “What do you think the first step is? What happens next?” If they get stuck, you can give them a hint or ask them to be the expert—”Do you think we should do x or y next?”
Tip #5 Praise Your Child’s Effort, Problem Solved or Not
If both you and your kiddo don’t know what to do next, circle the question, and encourage your child to ask their teacher. Again, let your child know how awesome they are! It’s not about having an innate talent, but about putting in the effort to understand, even when you are struggling.
As a teacher, I have seen the most successful students are not the ones who are naturally talented, but the ones who take responsibility for their own education. It is something that you as a parent can encourage by not only praising your child when they finish something difficult, but also by helping them to understand when they need extra help.