Become An Active Math Homework Helper

You may feel that as a parent, you are at the mercy of your child’s teacher to make sure he or she is mastering the math concepts that are necessary to succeed in school. The truth is that you have a lot of power when it comes to giving your child the math tools they need. If you use all of the resources at your disposal and pay attention to the area your child needs help with the most, you can contribute significantly to your child’s math education.

The first thing you need to do is to stay aware of your student’s progress in math. Help make sure they are able to communicate clearly with their teacher about what they are expected to know for upcoming quizzes and tests, when the next test is scheduled, what the homework assignment is and when it is due. You can teach your child how to use a planner or calendar to write in what is expected of them, and check it with them daily until they develop the consistency that will enable them to keep track on their own. Once you are aware of their assignments, you will be in a better position to help them.

Homework is a necessary evil, possibly more so in math than other subjects. This is because math works to build skills that are reinforced through repetition. Because of this, the more your child is able to practice, the better chance he or she has to master the information. Many teachers assign only a portion of the problems in a section for homework. You can help your child complete the remaining problems in a section, or rewrite the problems using different numbers so that your student has extra opportunities to practice. Don’t forget to check to see if answers are available in the back so that you can check your child’s work. You may also be able to find extra practice pages, practice tests and review sections.

Once you have identified a weak area in your child’s math skills, you can write exercises that are designed specifically to work on a single skill. Isolate the smallest step that you can find and help your child practice that specific task until he or she has mastered it before moving on. You can find worksheets and other resources online. Check out sites like MathBuddyOnline that offer exercises designed by educators to help your child improve math skills on any grade level.

While you are helping your child, foster their independence by encouraging them to think through the answer. Encourage them to talk out loud as they work to solve a problem so you can see where they are getting stuck. If you aren’t sure how to help them solve a problem, talk with them about how they could ask the teacher for help. If they are very young, you may consider writing a note (or email) to the teacher, or calling the school during their conference period to discuss the problem with them. Older students may feel embarrassed to ask questions during class, so suggest other times they could come back for help, like before or after school.

If you can see what they are doing wrong, try offering help in the form of a series of hints so that you don’t give more help than they need to figure the problem out. Praise is an important part of this process. Make sure that your child feels successful during every homework session, and if you notice that they are beginning to reach a level of frustration, suggest taking a break, or back up a step to problems that are not so difficult. With a little patience and persistence, you can make a significant difference in your child’s math homework experience.

Solutions for the “I Hate Math!” Problem

Solutions for the “I Hate Math!” Problem
In schools across the world, for generations and generations, math students have dreaded their daily lessons. While not every math student dislikes the subject, math is often considered the least likely subject to be a child’s “favorite subject” or to be requested voluntarily as an activity. You may think back on your own math experiences and relate to the stories of students who feel burdened by their math studies. The reasons for this dislike of the subject range from the tedious and repetitive exercises  involved in the mastery of math to the difficulty of understanding the abstract concepts needed to continue in math education. Whatever the reason, providing a young student with a love for math, or at least a willingness to cooperate in order to learn it, is a common challenge for parents.
Teachers also struggle with this subject, as many students show a much stronger preference for school subjects like reading, history, and science that may lend themselves more easily to fun classroom activities. Math teachers have a connotation surrounding their personalities that may lead some students to believe that all math teachers are boring, clumsy or awkward, and have little or no sense of humor. Even if your child does not particularly like his or her math teacher, you can help them develop an enjoyment of math activities that will make their math education much more palatable.
The first thing to do is to speak with your child about why he or she does not like math. Let them know that there is no wrong answer, and that you are willing to help them find ways to make these problems better. You can also encourage them by minimizing your reaction to any answer you may get. Expect answers like, “Math is stupid,” or “My math teacher is mean,” or “He/she never teaches us anything.” When these answers pop up, probe for more information by asking open-ended questions. Find out what specific parts of math your child feels are useless, or how he or she feels about their teacher and the class in general. Also, try and encourage your student to name a few things about math he or she likes. They may first answer nothing, but you may be able to prod them by reminding them of a math field trip they have experienced, or a time when they use math to do something positive, like count allowance or go shopping.
Building a positive connotation around math is one way to foster a better feeling about the subject in general. Be sure to point out the places you use math that are enjoyable for your student, such as using math to figure out the score of a board game, or making delicious brownies by using math in a recipe. You can also find magazines, videos, books and websites that attempt to enhance a child’s math learning by providing entertainment, colorful images, hands-on learning or other enjoyable approaches to math.
Helping children relate Math to everyday objects and using activities to learn Math is one great way to make children realize that Math is not all that abstract. There are so many examples of Math in every day life, and when you come across any of these, make it a point to bring to your child’s notice. For example, when you are in a shopping mall and see banners announcing discounts, get your child to think about how much the item would cost after discount. When children are made to think, you will be amazed at what they can accomplish. Best of all, the pride that results from doing things on their own can carry them far more.
Math Buddy has been created with this sole purpose in mind where children interact with the computer and play with virtual activities. As they play, they learn the math concepts.If you have not had a chance to try out Math Buddy, enroll now to try it absolutely free for 10 days. Absolutely No risk, no obligations!

Teach math using everyday articles

Math concepts can be some of the most difficult for young students to master. This is a result of the abstract concepts that comprise most of mathematics. Fortunately, as a parent, you are in a great position to be able to help your student make the most of their math education. Staying tuned in to the curriculum of your student can help you to assist them with the most challenging parts of the skills they are being asked to learn.

The term manipulatives is used frequently amongst teachers of mathematics to refer to objects that are used in the classroom to help reinforce the learning of more abstract concepts. For example, when learning about units in math, such as the ones, tens, and hundreds units, objects are often used to represent a grouping of ten or a hundred. Being able to see how the larger units “break” down into smaller pieces is helpful in showing a child how to master this abstract concept.

Manipulatives can be used to illustrate almost any math concept, from time to multiplication. Cutting up a paper plate is a great way to talk about fractions and practice division. Small objects can be used as manipulatives to learn about patterns and grouping. There are lots of cheap, easy-to-use manipulatives that you can find easily:

  • Buttons
  • Coins
  • Beads
  • Poker chips
  • Craft sticks
  • Playing cards
  • Erasers
  • Bottle tops or soda can tabs
  • Pasta shells (can be dyed different colors with food coloring)
  • Cereal
  • Beans
  • Marbles

When your child encounters a math concept that is giving them problems, take a moment to analyze whether there may be a way for you to help your student by making the concept more concrete for them through the use of manipulatives. Any time that they are able to touch, hold, and move objects to represent the numbers they are working with, they improve their chances of mastery.

To begin determining how a manipulative might be helpful for your student, stop to ask questions and isolate exactly where the problem is occurring. Is the child missing an important step in setting the problem up? Does your child know which math operation is necessary to solve the problem? Is the issue a lack of understanding of more basic concepts that build on one another to enable the student to solve the problem? When you narrow down which step in the process is causing trouble, you know which step could benefit from the use of manipulatives.

Once you have decided what aspect of the math lesson needs reinforcement, choose a manipulative that makes sense. If you need many of them to represent a large number, choose very small items. Make sure you have a plan for working with objects that may roll. Take your child’s interests into consideration. You are more likely to be successful in engaging your child in practice math activities if they are interested in handling the manipulatives. Ask them for ideas about things that they can use to help illustrate a problem that they are trying to solve. Let them be a part of the learning process, and you will hold their attention for longer!

Above all, approach the use of manipulatives with a low-key enthusiasm. Show your student that using manipulatives can make learning math easier and more fun. Once they have an appreciation for these tools, they will look forward to working with them, and begin to understand how they are used in solving problems. Math manipulatives can be a great way to make abstract math concepts seem more concrete.

Math in everyday life

Whether or not your child is an ace student in math, you can determine for yourself if they are mastering the math concepts that you feel are important. Teaching your children how the math concepts they learn in school apply in the everyday world will help them enjoy what they learn and remove the need for rote learning. The best part is that helping them to see the value in learning math only takes a few minutes, and you can demonstrate how practical math can be nearly anywhere. The more you expose your students to the value of learning math, the more likely they are to be cooperative participants in their own education.
One of the best ways to begin demonstrating the importance of learning math is to model the ways that you use math and point out the specific math skills that make this possible. You may be thinking that there aren’t very many opportunities to demonstrate your use of math during the day, but you haven’t probably thought about how often you use math. The first step, then, is to take a week or so and pay close attention to the situations in which you use math skills. Keep a list in a notebook if it will help you to remember.
Although the list is much longer, here are a few common math concepts that you might find yourself using in your daily life.
  • Probability – Have you ever stopped to figure out what the chances are that you will win a free soda if the label says, “One In Six Wins!” and you buy two? You are figuring out the probability. The same applies to any other “chance” occurrences, like flipping a coin or rolling dice, perhaps as part of a game.
  • Basic math operations – Try including your math learner in your budget planning or checkbook balancing session. Show them how you must carefully add and subtract the numbers, and why correct math is so important when handling money.
  • Percentages – Shopping for items on sale is a great way to point out how figuring percentages can be useful, such as finding 10% off of the sweater you want to buy.
  • Estimation – Help your student guess how many people are at the ballpark, how many hot dogs your family eats in a year, how much pizza to order for a party or anything else! Make sure to point out that estimation is an important math skill.
  • Measurement units – Pretty much everything we do in a day involves measurement units – time, length, weight, capacity, currency and temperature. In addition to day to day things, get your child involved in locating places on a map, finding distances between cities, read temperature in different cities from a newspaper, paying the cashier in a supermarket and collecting the change etc.
When you are showing your student how math is an integral part of everyday life, they are able to appreciate the value of math and also get rid of the feeling of abstractness when thinking about Math.
Be accurate and creative when you talk about math, and share enthusiasm with your young learner. The more aware they can be of their need to use math in regular life, the more likely they will develop a positive attitude about learning the math skills they will need later.
In Math Buddy, we have tried to relate every single topic in Math with practical real-life examples that students encounter in day to day life. A resource such as the Math Buddy parent guide will give you an idea of the concepts with which they should be familiar. You can download the parent guide for grades 2 to 4 from the “My Lessons” page when you login to Math Buddy.
Click here to learn more about Math Buddy.