Parents who help their child with math homework or practice skills at home might wonder how to make sure they’re doing it right. It’s natural for parents to want the best for their child, but trying too hard can actually get in the way of learning. Read on to find out what not to do when helping your child and 17 effective ways to help at home.
1) Don’t encourage guessing and playing math games.
It’s okay to let children use trial and error to solve problems, but they shouldn’t be encouraged to make random guesses. If a child reaches a point where she doesn’t know how to proceed, parents should step in and talk through the problem with her or suggest strategies for attacking the problem.
2) Don’t spend too long on one question.
The negative side of trial and error is that it can eat up time, so parents should try to minimize this practice by not lingering too long on a single problem. If your child needs more time to solve a word problem than other problems in his math book, consider separating out these problems and working on them separately.
3) Don’t try to do the work for your child.
Parents should provide guidance while children solve problems on their own. This is a good way to help kids develop problem-solving skills and be independent learners. In addition, parents can show interest in these problems by asking questions about what children are doing and how they’re solving the problems.
4) Don’t look at your child’s paper
Which could make him feel like he has to get it right or else his mom or dad will see that he got it wrong. If questions arise while your child is working on math homework, time spent together talking through the problem should be separate from the time he spends working on the assignment.
5) Don’t focus too much on grades and scores.
Grades and test scores should not be overemphasized, as they do not accurately reflect learning. It’s more beneficial to focus children on improvement, rather than achievement. If your child finishes a worksheet and is frustrated with a score that seems low, parents can discuss what parts of the problem were done well and which parts need more practice.
6) Don’t give up on math too soon.
Even if you’re not a math whiz, don’t be afraid to learn yourself! Read books about new math topics together with children or ask for help from family members or friends who are good at math. If you’re struggling with a certain topic, let your child know. It will reassure them that they aren’t alone in their frustration and boost self-confidence.
7) Don’t let technology replace interactions with your child .
YouTube has many great videos on math topics; however, parents should be cautious about how much they use technology to help their child with math. Technology can take away from quality time spent together learning new math skills.
8) Don’t focus all of your attention on improving grades and scores.
While good grades are important, it’s also important that children find enjoyment in the subject matter. Focusing too much on the pressures of test scores and grades can make math stressful for children.
9) Don’t rush them through their homework .
If parents want to ensure that their child is really learning new skills, they should take time to check over the child’s work and talk about it with him or her. This way, parents can help identify any misunderstandings or gaps in learning.
10) Don’t assume that your child is struggling because of their ability .
Attention problems, not basic skills, may cause a child to struggle. If this is the case, children may be easily frustrated and have difficulties concentrating on math homework. Parents should monitor for signs of attention difficulties that require more than traditional parenting strategies.
11) Don’t assume that your child is not struggling because of their ability.
If your child struggles with math but is very bright, he may be bored in class and need more challenge to keep his attention. Helping children expand their learning horizons by exposing them to different ways of thinking can help break through mental blocks or patterns of behavior that are keeping them stuck in the same way of doing things.
12) Don’t leave out problem-solving skills when you talk about math .
When parents ask kids what they did on a recent lesson, the answer often focuses on steps for solving math problems (for example: “I added six and seven.”). Parents should encourage children to reflect on how they solved the problem (for example: “I tried some different ways until I found one that worked.”).
13) Don’t think of math as isolated problems to be done.
Thinking of math lessons in terms of what children are learning is more beneficial than thinking about the skills being taught. Parents should talk with their kids about how they are applying new concepts or ideas to solve problems, make sense of information, communicate ideas, or understand connections between things.
14) Don’t focus solely on formative assessment .
Parents can help by providing ongoing feedback about homework throughout the school year instead of just looking at grades and scores at the end. This will give parents a chance to identify specific areas for improvement before it’s too late. For example, students can take a quiz over homework assignments to see if they understand the material.
15) Don’t let misconceptions about math prevent you from helping your child .
Even if parents themselves struggled with math at some point, don’t assume that their children will experience similar problems. Helping them do well in math does not mean that they are like you! They may need different ways of thinking about it than what helped you succeed.