If your child just cannot seem to understand math, it can be frustrating to both of you. However, the problem may lie in your teaching style or how they learn best, so it’s important to go into the situation with an open mind and try out different techniques and resources till you find what works best for your child.
Mathematics can be confusing to children and adults alike, so it’s no surprise that learning the basics of math is often an issue at some point in most students’ academics. So, before you feel frustrated, here are some ways to help your child understand math.
1. Work with Your Child
If you can, work with your child consistently. The more time you spend with them learning new math skills, the better they will get at it.
Many children may not want to take private lessons or attend classes because they're embarrassed about their skill level. So, make sure that you only pressure your child when you are sure that they are ready for it (and only when necessary).
Additionally, make sure that each lesson is progressive and builds on what was previously taught before moving on to something else.
2. Have a Positive Attitude
Often, a child may have difficulty understanding math for one of two reasons:
1.) They have negative feelings about learning math
2.) They they are stressed by their current level of knowledge.
Whichever it is, you can address them by being positive.
For example, rather than asking your child if they’re having trouble with a particular concept, you could say, "would you like some extra practice problems so that when your teacher covers that section again in class, it might come easier to you?"
This suggests to your child that you’re helping out on purpose and it has nothing to do with any deficiency on their part—and it's far more likely to produce an attitude change in your child.
3. Set Up a Homework Routine
Setting up a homework routine after school each day will help to make sure that your child completes their assignments every day and that they’re getting as much out of each lesson as possible.
Keep communication lines open between you and your children so that they don’t feel embarrassed or frustrated when they can’t grasp concepts immediately, and make sure that you’re working through problems with them so they know where to go if they get stuck.
In many cases, an extra set of eyes is all it takes to be able to figure out where something went wrong. Also remember that everyone learns differently; what works for one child may not work for another, so be prepared to improvise as needed.
4. Get Them Organized
Before you sit down with your child to talk about their schoolwork, it’s a good idea to put things in order. It's an easy way to start off on a positive note and show that you're serious about making sure they know their stuff.
To get started, spend some time cleaning up your house so everything is put away and there isn't any clutter. A clean environment makes it easier for people to concentrate and organize themselves.
Once your house is ready, set aside a room where you can meet with your children. If possible, ask other family members if they could give you some space while you work with your child; it can help remove distractions and make sure everyone can focus on what needs to be done.
5. Understand Their Learning Style
If your child is struggling with math, or is just finding it boring, it may be because they're having trouble understanding what's being taught. By understanding their learning style, you can work to present information in a way that will resonate better with them and improve retention.
Some learning styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. When tutoring math, consider using techniques that play to these strengths.
For example, if your child learns best through visual stimulation (like pictures), consider asking your child to draw out an equation they're trying to solve. If they learn best through auditory methods (hearing), try turning off all visuals when teaching so your child has to focus solely on what you're saying.
And if your child needs to have kinesthetic input (handwriting, physical manipulation) to absorb information, letting them use manipulatives while solving math problems can help keep their attention focused on what they're learning.
As we've learned from brain research in recent years, no two brains are alike -- and understanding math is no exception! Therefore, understanding that children learn differently from one another helps to foster continued curiosity and engagement
6. Make it Fun
Just like adults, children learn best when they’re having fun. A great way to make your child feel comfortable with math is to connect it to something they enjoy – baking, sports, or video games are a few ideas.
It might also be helpful to make sure they understand why they need to learn math and remind them that their class is designed so that everyone can succeed; if they put in some effort, good things will happen.
Math is a basic life skill and one of many reasons why schooling is so important; make sure your child understands how important it is! With some creativity and dedication you can help your children see that math isn’t so bad after all.
7. Consider Tutoring
If you've exhausted all your efforts in teaching your kids and they're still struggling in math, then it might be time to consider a tutor. Tutoring can make all of the difference for a student who needs extra support and attention.
No matter their grade level, every student can benefit from extra tutoring assistance with their math coursework. With one-on-one instruction and customized learning plans, you can work with your tutor to help your child gain confidence in their math skills and get excited about learning again.
Your tutor will assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses, provide detailed lesson plans based on their results, and make sure they’re hitting all of their milestones along the way toward success.
For more resources to support helping your child learn while away from school, see the Good Hope Tutoring At-Home Learning Support.