Math Tips for Parents
We understand the critical role parents play in their children’s education and we want to make sure parents have the resources they need to help their children be successful in math. Here are some tips:
- Attend Parent Meetings or Math Nights scheduled at your school: These events provide opportunities for parents to learn more about what students are working on in class, as well as provide tools for parents to help their children at home.
- Ask your children to explain what they did in math today: Can they show you what they learned with toys or blocks? Can they draw an example of what they did? Can they compute accurately and check their work?
- Engage in mathematical talk*. Look for opportunities to have mathematically-oriented conversations with your child that connect to the world around us. For example, if your son notices some workers putting a new roof on a neighbor’s house and wonders how long a new roof lasts, turn the conversation into a story problem. Tell them roofs are replaced every 20 years and then ask him how old he will be when you have to replace your 8-year-old roof. Listen as he reasons through the problem.
- Play math games at home.
- Question rather than “tell”*. It is often tempting to simply tell or explain a math problem – particularly if your child has arrived at the wrong answer. In order to help your daughter gain a deeper understanding of math ask her questions instead. Begin with “how” and “why” questions about the math problem, which will help you understand how she is thinking. In many instances, with this kind of reflection, a child will reconsider the strategies they used to solve the problem.
- Suggest rather than “compel”*. At times, even after some questioning and reflection, a child may remain at an impasse – uncertain on how to proceed with a particular problem. In these instances, avoid “compelling” the child to solve a problem a particular way. Instead, share your strategies for solving those kinds of problems. For example, if your 4-year-old is struggling to count a pile of crayons, offer your strategy. “Do you know how I like to count things? When I count one crayon, I like to pull it away from the others to know I have to know I have counted it." You do not require her to count a particular way, but she may decide to adopt your strategy. If she does her choice signifies the beginnings of a deeper understanding of the mathematics at hand.
- Stay involved: Check your child’s homework each night and make sure they are ready for the independent work that is often sent home.
- Ask for help: If you’re struggling to understand a new approach, check websites and other resources available to parents. Or, ask your child’s teacher to answer some questions so you can work together to build a strong foundation for mathematics.
*Excerpts from “Towards Meaning-Driven Math Fluency”, by Dr. Jonathan Thomas, Kentucky Center for Mathematics Faculty Associate