If you’re like many parents, helping your child with math homework may strike fear in your heart. Many of us think we’re “just not math people.” Here’s the truth, there is no such thing as a “math person.” There isn’t a math gene that some of us have and others don’t. Nor is it true that boys are better at math and girls are better at reading. So, the best thing you can do to help your child with math is to bring a positive attitude to the task, because your attitude has an enormous influence on your child. Be enthusiastic and don’t worry about whether you know how solve the problem. Your goal is not to get the right answer for your child but to help her think about what the problem is asking her to do.
You might start by asking her to explain to you what aspect of math she has been working on at school; is it adding or subtracting, multiplying or dividing, does it involve whole numbers or fractions? Just talking to your child about numbers is a great way to help her develop an understanding of math that makes sense to her. A mindless rush to get the right answer doesn’t help any child develop a genuine understanding of math concepts.
And don’t worry if the way problems are presented doesn’t look familiar to you. Students today are being encouraged to think of multiple ways to solve math problems. Be flexible and help your child learn to think mathematically. However, if you need more than just an attitude adjustment, Math Power: Simple Solutions for Mastering Math is a great resource that covers math concepts from first through sixth grade. For more information about the book, please visit our site. And remember, you don’t have to be an expert to help your child learn math!
Sylvia Mejia is the Director of Math 20/20 for Rodel Foundation of Arizona.