How can you assist your child in improving their math skills when it becomes a source of anxiety for them, as it does for many kids (and adults) who face difficulties in this subject?
Assisting with math can be challenging, particularly due to the changes in the way math is taught. However, even if you don’t excel in math, there are several ways in which you and the school can support your child’s improvement. Here are some tips.
How to help with math at home
If you find it difficult or frustrated to assist your child with math, know that many other parents and caregivers are in the same position. It has been a while since most of us have taken math classes, and schools now employ different teaching methods. The more acquainted you become with these new approaches, the more effortless it will be for you to provide assistance.
To assist you in orienting yourself, provided below are some illustrations of “new” math problems. Moreover, you can utilize helpful suggestions to aid in solving challenging math assignments.
Just because children have difficulty with math doesn’t imply that they are inept at it. Even proficient math students can face challenges with specific aspects of mathematics. Given that children require various abilities for different subjects, they may require assistance in one or more of these proficiencies.
Even within a specific subject, different types of math problems may demand distinct skills. For instance, certain children may excel in memorizing math facts but face difficulties when solving word problems.
For some children, their main obstacle is math anxiety. Regardless of their mathematical abilities, they experience anxiety when it comes to completing assignments or taking math exams. They may lack confidence in their mathematical skills, even if they are proficient. Additionally, their fear of failure can hinder their performance.
Here are a few stress-free and fun ways to help with math at home.
- Use sports, like football, to reinforce math concepts.
- Read books that build math skills in young kids.
- Play board games that help young kids build math skills.
- Cook and bake together.
There are tools available that are not expensive which can be used to facilitate math for your child.
- Discover items around the house that can be used as math tools.
- Try graphic organizers for math.
Here are a few teacher tips to try when it comes to helping kids learn math, showcasing their great strategies.
- Use an anchor chart to help with multiplication.
- Use number lines to help your child compare fractions.
- Play a warm-up game to get your child ready for math homework.
Teachers use various senses to help kids learn math, with sight, hearing, touch, and movement being the popular methods employed. This approach is also utilized by teachers when it comes to teaching reading and writing.
Children who have difficulties with math may find it challenging to utilize abstract thinking when solving math problems. For instance, comprehending quantities such as the concept that ten cents is greater than five cents might pose a challenge for them.
Technology can serve as an effective aid in mathematics and there are readily available low-cost or even free tools such as apps, Chrome tools, and software. These tools not only facilitate skill development but also alleviate the difficulties and frustration experienced by children.
If kids have trouble in school, be it math or some other subject, they often experience frustration. It can be helpful to discuss and empathize with their feelings, and to relate your own experiences of frustration with your personal challenges. Inform your child that everyone faces difficulties and there are strategies to improve one’s math skills.
How the school can help kids get better at math
If children encounter difficulties in mathematics, there are numerous measures that schools can take to provide assistance. Implementing specific teaching methods tailored to math can assist children in developing their skills. Furthermore, schools have the option to employ accommodations, which can facilitate the learning process for struggling students.
In order to receive assistance from the school, you would have to arrange for an evaluation of your child. Through a complimentary evaluation conducted by the school, you will gain insight into your child’s specific areas of difficulty, which will enable you to provide appropriate assistance.
You can also consider your child’s teacher as an excellent resource for information and assistance. Inquire with the teacher about any strategies used in the classroom that you can also implement at home.
Collaborating with the school can aid in the development of a growth mindset in your child, whereby they believe that their abilities can improve through effort and assistance. Additionally, they can acquire knowledge on how setting a “competence anchor” can boost their confidence in mathematics.
Ways to Help Your Kids with Math (When You Hate Math)
If you are not naturally inclined towards math, it is not necessary to become an expert overnight. However, you can follow these suggestions to encourage your child to become proficient in mathematics.
1. Avoid saying you’re bad at math. Stay positive!
This tip is likely to have the most significant impact on your child. If you have the urge to say something like “It’s okay that you’re not good at math, I wasn’t either,” resist that temptation! Contrary to popular belief, research indicates that the notion of being a “math person” or not is a fallacy. Even if you firmly believe in this idea at present, one of the best ways to prevent math anxiety from being passed on to your children is to avoid making negative comments about math. Instead, concentrate on acknowledging the difficulty and the effort involved by saying things like “I understand how challenging this is for you. I also found it difficult,” or “Don’t worry if math problems require more effort than your other assignments. You may not fully comprehend it yet, but I am confident that we can figure it out together.”
2. Talk about math.
When discussing math, it is not necessary to engage in complex statistical analysis or debate the most appropriate equation to represent a phenomenon. Speaking about math can be as basic as counting clouds or estimating heights. This is particularly important for young children who should feel at ease contemplating math and recognizing its presence in the world. Depending on your child’s age, seek opportunities to integrate math into any subject you are discussing as they come up.
- How many is that? How many would I have if I had another one?
- What would half of that look like?
- How could I split this equally?
- How do you predict this trend will change over time?
- What’s the chance of that happening?
- How can you make that more abstract? (The whole purpose of mathematics is to take ideas and make them abstract!)
- How many cards will you draw?
3. Frame this moment as a chance for kids to explore whatever math question interests them.
Many teachers are required to cover specific standards each year. As a result, students who have an interest in a different area of math may feel disappointed or frustrated because there isn’t enough time to explore it. – While standards and assessments are important, it’s important to not worry about whether your child’s question is too easy or too difficult, or if it aligns with the curriculum. – Remember that math can be a useful tool for approaching a wide range of questions. – Avoid responding with statements like “You should already know this,” “That seems too difficult,” or “That’s not important,” and help guide them toward the answer using questions.
4. Have your child teach you math.
Teaching something is a great method for learning. Many teachers will attest that even when they think they know a concept thoroughly, they gain a deeper understanding when they have to explain it to someone else. If you encounter a question that you can’t answer, you can admit that you’re stuck and encourage your children to find a solution. They might provide some assistance that helps you reach a conclusion.
5. Try the new math.
If the concept of “new math” makes you feel anxious, it’s normal. How is it that your third grader brings home math problems that confuse you?! Take comfort in knowing that the “new math” is the same as the “old math.” If you multiply 15 by 2, you still obtain 30. If you multiply 6 and 3, you still get 18. The operations of multiplication, division, and fractions haven’t drastically altered; it’s simply that we now have improved methods to explain them.
6. Do away with “drill and kill.”
If you remember having sheets filled with multiplication problems that had to be solved rapidly, you may have a distorted perception of what it truly entails to achieve mastery in mathematics. Research indicates that this is likely the reason behind your initial apprehension towards math!
7. Take it slow.
Here’s one last piece of advice. The strategies you would employ to solve any problem can be used in this situation as well. Give yourself breaks. Experiment with alternative approaches. Seek assistance from others. Keep in mind that everyone learns math at their own unique pace.