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.