It can be hard to help your child with Math homework. For one child an explanation of the procedure works, another child would like to see a worked out example or ‘act out’ the question by making a drawing or using manipulatives before doing the calculations with numbers. A positive attitude is always helpful.
Here are some suggestions:
- Ask your child what the question is he likes to have help with and to tell what is already clear and where it gets tricky.
- Ask which operation the questions asks for: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division?
- Ask him if he can make a guess of the answer before starting the exact calculation. Discuss if the guess makes sense and why.
- Ask if he can find an explanation or worked out example in the textbook or in his notes?
- Ask him to write the number sentence of the question on squared/graph paper using one square for each number or sign, and give it a try to solve it.
- Does your child need graph paper (square paper) to keep the numbers aligned or to help with drawing a model?
- Does your child need a temporary ‘cheat sheet’ with math facts?
- Can you find or make up a similar, but less complicated question to do as an example?
- Suggest to go over the corrections of previous questions looking for a similar mistake and ask your child to tell you how it was fixed. Ask him to fix the question he was working on in the same way.
- Suggest that your child makes a list of previous errors and how they were fixed, review the list.
- Does your child like to work together with another student from the class or make a phone call about the question?
- Is your child’s teacher available before or after school to explain the question? By email?
Be realistic and allow time for practice. Children who have missed out in Math in the past need more practice. You want to see progress and you can’t expect 100% correct the first time. Praise the effort and the deep thinking! Emphasize that Math makes sense, never speak negatively about math or tell that you as a child disliked the subject.
Last but not least: as much as you like your child to get a good homework grade, please resist the urge to just provide the correct answers. You help your child best when you set the stage to come up with the answers himself.
If your child is really stuck try a web based homework helper such as www.webmath.com or answers.yahoo.com select ‘Education & Reference’ or review the topic on www.Khanacademy.org