Math is a subject many parents struggle with and consider something they are not using in life. When their children struggle with math, parents tend to shy away from the subject. However, math is just as fundamental as reading and writing, and for some careers, it’s essential. Here’s how you can help your child with math, even if you both struggle with the subject.
The first step is not to place math in a negative light. You actually do use math every day; it is present in checking prices in the grocery store, looking for the best gas rates, figuring out how much money is saved in a “buy one get one ½ off” sale, and measuring flour for cookies. Rather than giving into negative math connotations, tackle the issue at hand. Take the time to navigate the problem with your child.
Work in bursts
Math requires a lot of brain power. Divide the math lesson into segments (from approximately 15 minutes for early elementary to an hour or so for middle school) and complete each segment. Take a break where you stand up and walk around before beginning again. Many teachers have math lessons for the week, month, or semester, so it is easy to space out homework assignments to turn in at the correct time.
Don’t fall behind
If you cannot understand a concept, ask your child’s teacher for assistance. Sometimes it might only take a short online video to help you overcome the struggle. At other times, it might take a tutoring session for your child with your teacher or a school tutor. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can sit in so you can also learn about the process on which you were unclear.
When your child tells you they remember the teacher talking about the problem, but can only recall a part of it, pull out the homework and have your child teach you. Working mentally and orally through a program very often stimulates the memory of how to complete the task. Even better, your child’s self-esteem rises as the answers become clear and even more when you exclaim how you understand it better now as well.
Use real-world examples
Think of fun methods of working math into the real world. Go to the zoo and count animals within an enclosure, then ask how many legs those animals would have altogether. Give your child kitchen tasks while making homemade cookies where ingredients must be measured. If your child likes carpentry, use paper, a ruler, and scissors to create a template for a picture frame, pointing out 45° angles, interior and exterior angles, and how the outside edges of the frame are longer than the inside edges.
Every sport has its own way of keeping score and is loaded with statistics. If your child enjoys football, ask the final score if the winning team scores 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals. Talk about runs batted in to your baseball enthusiast, and calculate the perimeter and area of the baseball diamond between bases. You can also have your child keep score while you play ping pong.
The easiest method to help your child overcome test anxiety – and yes, math anxiety is valid, pronounced, and extremely widespread – is to practice. If your child is fine with homework assignment, but scores low on tests, time their homework. The constant timing will become so mundane it will lose its ability to cause anxiety. In the process, all those difficult math problems will be practiced enough they will likewise become just another assignment instead of an extremely complex, arduous assignment.
Give your child the determination to meet all math challenges with these ideas and more by talking with your child and his or her math teacher. Contact Lake Forrest Preparatory School for more ideas on how to help your child succeed in all subjects by calling 407 331-5144.