Do you ever find yourself asking, “How can I help my child with math homework?” When you look at a math problem do you freeze, begin feeling uneasy, and automatically say “I can’t do math?” Don’t let your reactions to math affect your ability to help your child at home!
Stay positive! Remember that your child looks to you and your reaction to gage how s/he should react. Try not to make comments such as “I never could do math.” Instead, try one of the 5 strategies below:
Wrong answers don’t mean you are dumb any more than correct answers mean you are smart. Congratulate your child on effort in addition to correct answers. Many children equate smart with automaticity and dumb with struggle. We need to help them understand that mathematicians struggle and try many strategies before they solve problems.
If your child is stumped by a math problem, the best support you can provide is to ask them questions that guide them toward self teaching. It is easier to show them the answer and how to solve it, but they will learn more if you ask them questions that guide them toward the correct answer. Does your answer makes sense? Do you have a problem like this one in your notes that you can look at as an example? Can we follow the same steps to answer this problem? You would be surprised how many mistakes can be uncovered just by asking questions.
PROVIDE HELPFUL TOOLS
Keep a list of problem solving tools they can try when they are stumped. For example, try a simpler problem can be extremely helpful with word problems. If the problem contains fractions or decimals and is intimidating, try the same problem with whole numbers. Once you know your strategy, apply it to the fractions or decimals. There are many other great problem solving tools children can use. Check out this list!
BE A ROLE MODEL
Model problem solving out-loud during day to day living. Let them see that answers don’t magically pop into your head. You have a process you go through to make decisions – model it.
CHECK YOUR WORK
Encourage your child to have a second method for answering the same problem. When they ask you, “Is this right?” Say, “I don’t know, lets look at it together.” Ask him/her if there is another method they could use to find the answer. If yes, use the method to verify their answer is correct. I have yet to find a problem that can’t be solved more than one way!
I hope you find this list helpful. There are many more strategies you could try as well. Check out these additional resources for parents. Let me know the methods you have used in the comments section below!
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