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How Can I Help My Child in Math?

Succeeding at math requires a fundamental understanding of basic math principles.
Some students benefit from the assistance of a tutor, particularly in the subject of math.
Parents can help prepare a child for kindergarten and beyond by teaching basic math skills such as counting and simple addition.
Speaking with the teacher of a child who has done well in math up to a point might be helpful.
Many math teachers are typically available to work with students after class.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2014
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In recent years, curriculum based standards in America’s schools have been heavily centered around reading. However, more recently, the focus is beginning to shift to include an equal importance placed on math and the sciences. Many children struggle with math from the very beginning, and because math is a progressive subject based on early fundamentals, math gets harder for some kids every school year. If your child is struggling with math, there are many ways to help him, and the sooner you intervene, the better.

Many parents don’t realize their child is having trouble with math until she reaches the secondary grades of elementary school, when concepts beyond the addition and subtraction of numbers 1 through 10 are introduced. If your child is beyond the third grade and is struggling with math, you might need to go back to the basics to see where he got lost. Did he somehow misunderstand or never grasp the concept of carrying or borrowing in addition and subtraction? Try to recall if you noticed a swift or gradual decline in your child's math grades and see if you can pinpoint where the difficulty started.

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If your child has done well in math up to a point, but is struggling with a new concept, such as division or algebra, talk to her teacher. Many parents who try to help their children with math homework only confuse matters more for their child. Methods of teaching math are constantly evolving, and while you may be able to find the answers to your child’s math homework, you might not be capable of explaining it the way her teacher is teaching it. You must work with the teacher to help your child get a solid grasp.

If helping your child in math involves asking the teacher to work with him after class or hiring a student tutor, then make the arrangements. Kids often respond better to assistance from someone other than their parents. If tutoring or staying after school is not an option, then you must sit down and examine your child’s curriculum so that you can explain it accordingly. Review both new and old concepts with your child on a regular basis and always check his homework.

The best thing you can do to help your child with math is to stay on top of the curriculum from the very beginning. As soon as your child has been introduced to addition and subtraction, use flash cards, interactive software, and any other means of practice you can think of. As new concepts such as multiplication and division are added, practice those in addition to previous concepts. Math is a progressive study, and a solid understanding of the subject requires building one concept on top of another.

In the event that your child is failing math and the school cannot help her, it may be time to consider drastic options. Private instruction or tutoring is one option. Though it can be expensive, there may be means to offset the cost, and it will be well worth it if it helps your child and prevents her from having to repeat a grade. In some cases, repeating a grade or switching schools may be the only option. The most important thing is making sure your child can grasp the basic concepts of math that will apply to life skills such as paying bills, managing a budget, and other necessary math-related skills.

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Discuss this Article

anon333703
Post 13

@Fiorite: I so agree with you. Parents can make a huge difference in the area of math. The problem is that math has changed so much that parents feel it is a mystery.

anon275470
Post 12

@anon124061: There are other, less expensive options to hiring a math tutor for $42/hour (which seems pretty expensive in either case). You can find several workbooks at libraries and online, and work through it with your child together.

There are also math games which can be a lot more fun than the workbooks. My personal recommendation would be SMARTeacher, which just got some very positive reviews at some local schools near Toronto, Canada.

anon271112
Post 11

Math has got its own signs, symbols and hence language. Kids who learn this language love math and others find it boring, dry and very difficult.

Very good article inspiring about the significance of the basic math. If kids start to learn math fundamentals, then kindergarten, first grade math, grade two math and so on, will work as the steps of stairs to a high rise that we call math.

anon158843
Post 8

I agree with @anon124061, many people neglect to consider all the options of getting affordable tutoring. Also, there are a lot ways that parents can help their kids with math that may not be so obvious. I have tutored math for over 25 years and have written down what I have learned in a book ("What Can I Do to Help My Child with Math When I Don't Know Any Myself?"), explicitly setting out how parents can help. I also discuss the ins and outs of finding an affordable tutor.

I have also put together and documented some links to a comprehensive range of free web resources covering K1-12 (and early college). The book can be found at the usual booksellers, or ask at your local library (ISBN 9780974168906).

amypollick
Post 6

@anon124061: Here are a couple of options you may not have considered. If there is a college near your town, a student may be willing to tutor your daughter for considerably less than $42 an hour. Or a high school student might be able to help her.

One other thing may be to get acquainted with some families in your area who are homeschooled and get one of their children to help your daughter, or see if the mom can help bring her up to speed. Good luck!

anon124061
Post 5

my daughter is in third grade and is struggling with math. the teacher can only spend so much time on each subject so it seems my daughter has been left behind. I have checked into private tutoring and they want $42/hr. plus assessment fees. this is a huge financial commitment but I feel if we don't intervene now, she will be lost.

It's starting to affect her self esteem. I will need to get a second job to pay for this since there is no financial aide available.

anon123490
Post 4

I agree about starting kids with numbers early on is a good thing. I did just that with my son and daughter. My son went through the gifted program at his elementary school and it is now his best subject. My daughter is taking to math at a lesser degree, but she is constantly doing better. Just got to keep at it with them. Patience and persistence helps a lot too.

Fiorite
Post 3

@Georgesplane - I second your opinion on the importance of math. I started introducing my daughter to numbers at a very early age. She is about 19 months and she can already distinguish and name most numbers between one and ten. She has trouble telling one, seven and ten apart but for the most part she gets it. We will go to the pool and she will not go in until she walks around the pool naming every number on the pool deck. I am hoping that her early love for numbers translates to a love for math.

Georgesplane
Post 2

This was a great article. Understanding the fundamentals of mathematics is very important to progressing in mathematics; much like learning a new language. The author was also right about parental involvement. I am confident with my math skills, but I do not think this would be the case if my parents had not pressed me to do my work. They didn't care about whether or not I got all of the answers right, rather they focused on attempting the work and diagnosing mistakes. Math teaches problem solving skills that can be applied to other areas in life. That being said, I doubt math comes easy to very many, but those that are numerically gifted welcome the challenge of solving a math problem.

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