Turn your child into a maths magician?

Stop The Madness! Homework And How To Help When Your Child Gets Stuck!
What can you do as a parent, when your child has had enough, when they are frustrated by a hard problem and just want to stop? Here are some practical tips to keep the family sanity levels intact!
Of all the school subjects, Mathematics is the one that makes many parents nervous.

Maths has changed a lot of the years, instead of ‘borrowing’ and ‘carrying’, children now work out problems in boxes and on number lines. The emphasis has changed from just getting it right to knowing the thought processes of what you actually did (and why) to get the answer.

So what happens when your child gets stuck on a maths problem at home? How do you keep calm and stop frustration taking over, when both you and your child are looking at it from two different angles?

We don’t want to tell them the answer as this robs your child of their educational experience and only teaches your child that if they wait long enough an adult will tell them the answer.

Here are a few suggestions to help you when your child is stuck and wants to throw in the towel:

  • • Approach homework with an open, can-do attitude. Show that math is interesting and do-able.

    • Express confidence in your child’s and your own ability to do math. Even if you found math frustrating when you were in school, try to avoid saying things like, “Math is so hard.” Instead, you could say, “Sometimes I get stuck when I’m doing math, but if I take a break and try again, I might get a new idea.”

  • • Keep interactions about math relaxed and enjoyable. StayOnTrack has deliberately kept the worksheets to 10-15 minutes of practice-so it is short, sharp and to the point.

  • • Praise persistence and creativity in problem solving, as well as finding the right answer. Remember that making mistakes is a sign that they are trying and also helps them learn different ways to the answer.

  • • A lot of mistakes have lots of’ right thinking’ in them so have your child explain what they did. Using open-ended questions (a question without a yes or no answer) is a great way to prompt understanding.

  • • Take time to listen before offering help. You’ll need to know what is confusing to your child before you can be helpful, and it is important for your child to learn how to describe what is confusing and why.

  • • Be aware of frustration levels, theirs and yours! If you both get stumped on a problem, take a break and come back to it in a few minutes.

  • • Give clues rather than the answer.

  • • If you and your child both get stuck, focus on writing a clear question or explanation of what is confusing.

  • • Have your child show it to the teacher to get more help. This helps your child take responsibility for his or her own learning and develop a good relationship with the teacher.

  • • Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know, so consider asking an older brother, sister, cousin, or friend to help with math homework. Even if you are comfortable with the math, your child may be more open to help from someone else

  • • Have your child solve a similar problem with smaller, easier numbers first. Talk with your child about the steps they are using to complete the problem then help them see the same steps with the original problem.

  • • Have your child use objects like beans, pieces of pasta, or coins to solve a problem.

  • • Act out the problem or draw a picture of the problem with your child.

  • • After your child has finished the problem, have him or her check the answer by working the problem backwards. (For example, if she subtracted to find the answer, she would add to check it.) It is important for students to check their own work to be sure their answers make sense and are correct.

  • • Talk about how you solve problems: your thinking processes and methods may be useful to your child.

    Maths is an essential skill and impacts on many other areas of study that your children will take, as well as everyday life.

    Make sureyour child’s basic facts are strong by signing up to StayOnTrack’s daily worksheets at www.stayontrack.co.nz.
  • StayOnTrack Limited 2014