by Jennifer Santo
Math can be a sensitive subject for adults as well as children. Too many children struggle in their math classes with very little success. These children grow into adults who shy away from anything math related. When such adults have children who share their same struggles, they are unsure how to help. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are parents for whom math came naturally; when their children struggle with math, such parents find it hard to relate to their children’s battles. No matter what your math background may be, these tips will help you support your children’s learning so that they can succeed in math this school year.
1. Request a Teacher Conference
This is your opportunity to dialogue with your child’s teacher about the upcoming school year. During this time, review the course outline so that you are aware of the concepts your child is expected to learn during year. Having an idea of the concepts in advance will help you to be better prepared to assist him or her throughout the year. This is also a time to inquire about any weaknesses your child’s teacher has identified.
2. Help with Remedial Work
If your child struggled the previous year in math class, chances are he is going to need to do some remedial work. Hopefully, your child’s teacher has identified his weak areas so that you are able to focus on the concepts he needs the most help in. You can ask your child’s teacher for any remedial workbooks or worksheets that will be useful. A free website that has several math exercises from elementary math up to high school algebra and geometry is http://www.purplemath.com/. Purple Math is a great resource that has practice problems with answers, divided by subjects and concepts.
3. Check Homework Daily
I cannot stress how important it is to review your child’s homework every night. Be sure that you are checking for accuracy and not completion. Many teachers simply do not have the time to check each student’s answers for accuracy. Unfortunately, if this is the case, you will not find out until test day that your child did not completely understand the concepts. It is important for you to be familiar with the material that your child is focusing on. If you are notcomfortable with the material, make sure you seek outside help.
4. Seek Outside Help When Necessary
Many times parents may need to seek help outside the home for their children. Schools often offer extra help for struggling students before, during, and after school. Sometimes the help offered through the school may not be enough, especially if the sessions are overcrowded. If your child is struggling in spite of the school’s best efforts, individual tutoring may be the best fit for your family. If you are able to work it into your budget, one-on-one tutoring has many benefits and can help your child see instant success. If your child is struggling early on in his education, it is imperative that you address the issue immediately because math is a subject where the earliest-learned concepts are the building block for the later concepts. If your child falls too far behind, catching up may feel like an overwhelming task.
5. No Vacations
Like the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” If you want to excel in something, you have to give it your all every day. Math should be practiced daily for all students, but especially students who find math difficult. The only way to improve math skills is to practice working out math problems. Sometimes, simply doing the assigned homework is not enough. For example, if a teacher assigns the even-numbered problems, have your child do the odd ones as well for extra practice. The days your child says “I don’t have any homework,” are great opportunities to work on some of the remedial work discussed in Step 2 above. Such days can also be an opportunity for your child to review the upcoming unit’s vocabulary or formulas so that they are better prepared for the upcoming unit.
The bottom line is, every child can find success in math. It may take more effort for some than others because we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. However, you can help your child become stronger in math with these proactive steps. Math is a subject that your student will have to take until at least their junior year of high school and its lessons build from year-to-year. I encourage you to help your child find new confidence in their math abilities and watch this new confidence flow into other areas!
Jennifer Santo is originally from Orlando, Fl., where she was a high school biology teacher. She is a stay-at-home mom with two (soon to be three) children and tutors high school students.