1. Wrap your head around the concepts
Repetition and practice are great, but if you don’t understand the concept, it will be difficult to move forward.
Luckily, there are many great ways to break down math concepts. The trick is finding the one that works best for your child.
Math manipulatives can be a game-changer for children who are struggling with big math ideas. Taking math off the page and putting it into their hands can bring ideas to life. Numbers become less abstract and more concrete when you’re counting toy cars or playing with blocks. Creating these “sets” of objects can bring clarity to basic math abased learning
During math practice, repetition is important — but it can get old in a hurry. No one enjoys copying their times tables over and over and over again. If learning math has become a chore, it’s time to bring back the fun!
Game-based learning is a great way to practice new concepts and solidify past lessons. It can even make repetition
3. Bring math into daily life
You use basic math every day.
As you go about your day, help your child see the math that’s all around them:
- Tell them how fast you’re driving on the way to school
- Calculate the discount you’ll receive on your next Target trip
- Count out the number of apples you need to buy at the grocery store
- While baking, explain how 6 quarter cups is the same amount of flour as a cup and a half — then enjoy some cookies!
Relate math back to what your child loves and show them how it’s used every day. Math doesn’t have to be mysterious or abstract. Instead, use math to race monster trucks or arrange tea parties. Break it down, take away the fear, and watch their interest in math grow.
4. Implement daily practice
Math practice is important. Once you understand the concept, you have to nail down the mechanics. And often, it’s the practice that finally helps the concept click. Either way, math requires more than just reading formulas on a page.
Daily practice can be tough to implement, especially with a math-averse child. This is a great time to bring out the game-based learning mentioned above. Or find an activity that lines up with their current lesson. Are they learning about squares? Break out the math link cubes and create them. Whenever possible, step away from the worksheets and flashcards and find practice elsewhere.
5. Sketch word problems
Nothing causes a panic quite like an unexpected word problem. Something about the combination of numbers and words can cause the brain of a struggling math learner to shut down. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Many word problems just need to be broken down, step by step. One great way to do this is to sketch it out. If Doug has five apples and four oranges, then eats two of each, how many does he have left? Draw it, talk it out, cross them off, then count.
If you’ve been talking your child through the various math challenges you encounter every day, many word problems will start to feel familiar.
6. Set realistic goals
If your child has fallen behind in math, then more study time is the answer. But forcing them to cram an extra hour of math in their day is not likely to produce better results. To see a positive change, first identify their biggest struggles. Then set realistic goals addressing these issues.
Two more hours of practicing a concept they don’t understand is only going to cause more frustration. Even if they can work through the mechanics of a problem, the next lesson will leave them feeling just as lost.
Instead, try mini practice sessions and enlist some extra help. Approach the problem in a new way, reach out to their teacher or try an online math lesson. Make sure the extra time is troubleshooting the actual problem, not just reinforcing the idea that math is hard and no fun.