If today’s math looks wildly unfamiliar, you’re not alone. Even third grade math homework can leave parents mystified. But parents are critical to kids’ math skills development. To take it by the horns and be victorious with your child in math, follow these simple tips.
Kids nationwide are more than half a school year behind in math. How far behind is your child – or their school?
You can find out with our 10-Second Math Checkups. These are fun, natural questions you can casually toss into conversation to gauge your child’s skills and gaps on the spot.
Don’t worry if they’re “doing math” differently from the way you did it. The dance steps have changed, but math has not! You can get back to the basics with your kid.
If your child can’t answer a question, instead of saying, “That’s not right,” ask, “How did you get that?” As they explain, they will find their own mistake and that is true learning. Check out our Parent Tips to learn more. Then click on any grade below!
If your child is really struggling, see how your friends’ kids are doing. You may all be quietly stressing out when together you need to Talk to Your School.
When parents talk about math as part of real life, kids see that math is relevant and want to work at it. Minute by minute we subconsciously use math! If you don’t believe it, check out our Periodic Table of Math Skills to show the key skills kids will need to surmount real-life situations.
I’M NOT GOOD AT MATH.
I’M NOT A MATH PERSON.
I DON’T USE MATH, AND I’M FINE.
I CAN’T HELP, I HATE MATH.
Have you ever said any of these to your kid? Your kids look up to you, so be their math rock star. It’s time to break the cycle and change the conversation around math. Instead of telling your kids that you hate math or can’t do it, start signaling that you can do the math. Because you can — and do every day!
- Bedtime Math makes it easy to bring math into regular life. This free online app delivers playful math challenges for parents to do with their kids every day.Parents who used the Bedtime Math app with their child a few minutes each week over one school year improved their child’s math skills by an average of three months more than those who did not.
- When students have a growth mindset, they perform better in math over time, not only on standardized tests but also in the classroom. It’s empowering to tell kids to work on math even if they aren’t succeeding yet. With the right attitude and a little practice, anyone can be a math person! Check out our Parent Tips on building a math-loving environment.
The first step in your child’s victory over homework is your victory over it. Yes, math is being taught differently these days, but 2 + 2 is still 4. You graduated from elementary school — you can do this! Here are a few quick tips for taking homework by the horns.
- Be confident in yourself. Clear up your own misunderstandings based on how you may have learned math.
- Be encouraging. Tell your child that together we can do this — because you can do it. Everyone can master elementary school math!
- Take stock of your child’s learning comprehension. Try our 10-Second Math Checkups. If you find your kid hasn’t mastered the concept, they shouldn’t move on to the next chapter until they do. Remember, math is cumulative — if you can’t add, you can’t learn to multiply.
- Looking for help? Free resources like Khan Academy and Math Antics are great ways for your child to practice a specific math skill at their own pace. Understood also has helpful tips for parents of kids struggling with math.
- There’s always more than one way to the right answer. Your child may be succeeding more than you think!
Look past the workbooks at the bookstore. Math offers tons of playful possibilities if you take the time to look for them. Here are a few ways to find your math wings with your kids at home.
- LEGO: Looking for a fun way to explore early math concepts with your kids? LEGO bricks are the perfect hands-on manipulative to practice counting and number recognition, addition and subtraction, place value and much more. We Are Teachers has a list of their favorite LEGO math ideas for every skill level, including how to tackle fractions.
- Beach Ball: Get moving with numbers! Kids practice math facts while tossing a ball around. Once they catch two digits, they can name the larger one, count up from one to the other, add them or make two-digit numbers. Or invent your own rules! Click here to design your own ball.
- Math Dice: ThinkFun’s Math Dice are an easy way to roll in a little mental math practice at home. They also have great resources for parents on their website.
- Math Meets Art: The time-honored activity Spirograph weaves together art and math to build spatial thinking. Your pencil tip spins geared wheels to create intricate geometric designs, but you can go one step beyond. The number of points or petals depends on whether there are leftover gear teeth after one rotation – which is division and remainders in action!
- Monopoly: The math doesn’t lie: Monopoly is one of the most popular board games in the world. Playing Monopoly helps kids build essential math skills such as counting money and making change, especially when serving as the banker. The 10-space board sides get kids thinking in “mods” to move without counting individual spaces. Of course, they also develop higher-level skills around strategy and probability.
- Face-Off: While many adults rely on their phones for percentage calculations like tipping, you can give your kid a leg up! Kids draw and cut up their own animal pictures, then swap with a friend to figure out what fraction, percentage and decimal of pieces switched. Click here for directions and picture grids.