Math has a reputation as being a hard subject, and many children struggle with it. Even kids who sail through math early on can hit a wall as problems become more complex. However, most kids will thrive with extra reinforcement outside the classroom. Even if math was never your favorite subject, you can help your child succeed. This guide will cover how to help your child with math at home.
Why Do Kids Have a Hard Time With Math?
Few subjects are as cumulative as math. If your child bombs a unit test in social studies, they can move on to the next unit and score well. This is rarely true in math. Concepts taught in third grade will continue to be relevant in calculus. Because of this, any gap in your child’s math knowledge will haunt them until it’s filled.
As students get older, math problems require more steps to solve. Your child may understand the math concepts but still miss problems because they aren’t organizing their work effectively.
Some students have math anxiety that keeps them from doing their best work. Studies have shown that students are susceptible to picking up on their teachers’ math anxiety. This can interfere with children getting the foundation they need to tackle higher-level math classes.
Children who’ve had a bad experience with a teacher may also have a hard time with math. Being embarrassed in front of the whole class because they made a mistake will make any child hate math instruction.
No matter why your child is having math difficulties, there are concrete steps you can take to help them succeed.
5 Expert Tips To Help Your Child With Math at Home
As a parent, you have the power to make learning math a positive experience. Helping your child learn math doesn’t have to be a chore. The following math tips for parents will help boost your child’s math achievement.
1. Incorporate Math Into Your Kids’ Everyday Life
While it’s easy to find opportunities to engage in reading activities with your kids every day, it can be harder to do with math. However, with a little forethought, you can make family math a fun activity.
Here are some ideas for younger kids:
- Play “I Spy” to find numbers in your environment
- Go on a shape hunt to illustrate how shapes are used in real life
- Count everything — crackers, steps, red cars
- Explain measurements when you’re cooking or baking together
- Try talking math during your bedtime routine, as you do with reading
When your kids get older, you can still include real-world math learning:
- Have them find the best deal at the grocery store by calculating unit prices
- Let them figure out a budget for their dream vacation
- Calculate how many gallons of gas it takes to travel to various places
- Introduce sports-obsessed kids to sports statistics
- Show your child how they can use algebra in everyday life
2. Start With Foundational Math Concepts
You may need to do some sleuthing to find where your child is struggling. If they’re lacking foundational math skills, it’s going to make everything harder. The pandemic had a devastating impact on math education, and many students missed out on learning core concepts.
Even if your child understands a concept, they may need more practice to be completely comfortable with it. For example, kids need extensive repetition to reach automaticity with math facts. Your child should be able to solve basic math equations without thinking. If they have to spend a minute remembering what 6x7 is, it will slow their progress in more advanced math.
Look at your child’s math tests and homework to find out what the root problem is, and spend time shoring up the skills they’re lacking. If it’s not obvious, talk to their teacher or work with a tutor to diagnose the issue. You’ll get more mileage from your math at-home activities if you focus on their problem areas.
3. Play Math Games To Make It Fun
Playing games is the best way for kids to learn math. Some math video games allow kids to work on math skills while having fun. However, home math games don’t have to mean more screen time. Board games such as Monopoly and Prime Climb can help build skills and make math fun.
Mathematician Ben Orlin’s book Math Games With Bad Drawings is one of many great math resources for parents. It explains the advanced math concepts behind some simple paper-and-pen games. You can also play many math games with a simple deck of cards, including Multiplication War.
4. Build Curiosity About Math
Curious kids are motivated learners. Unfortunately, classroom teachers who are under pressure to make up for lost learning and are trying to address the needs of multiple students rarely have the time to cultivate curiosity while teaching math at school. And endless worksheets filled with dry problems can crush any child’s natural love of learning.
You can rekindle your child’s natural curiosity about math at home. Through exposure, hands-on engagement, and relating abstract concepts to real life, you can show your child that kids doing math is more than just worksheets. Here are some ideas to spark your child’s creativity:
- Explain Fibonacci numbers and point them out in nature
- Visit your local library and read math picture books together
- Introduce your child to interesting math problems, such as the cake-cutting problem
- Show your child new ways to think about math concepts, such as exploring place value through Exploding Dots
5. Be Patient and Maintain a Positive Attitude Toward Math
Your attitude about math is contagious, so make it a good one. Stop before you get overly frustrated while you're helping your child with math homework. Whether your child is struggling with their times tables or memorizing formulas for trigonometry, there’s no doubt the stakes are high. Success in advanced math classes can set your child up for careers that are in high demand and pay well, providing a lifetime of opportunities.
However, getting anxious and stressed about your child struggling with math won’t help their math confidence. Let your child know you believe in them and that they can learn math. Talking to your child about developing a growth mindset can help them persevere even when math is challenging.
How Tutoring Can Make a Child See Math in a New Light
At Alexander Tutoring, we know there’s no such thing as being bad at math. We lead with inspiration so your child is naturally motivated to learn. Whether your child is in elementary school or Advanced Placement classes, our expert tutors will meet them at their level and bring out their full potential. We know how to teach math to kids using topics that interest them most. Contact us today to learn more.