Help Your Child Learn Math Facts

Learning math is different today than it used to be. Do you have what it takes to help your child master the basic facts?

Learning "the new math" is an old concept, spanning several generations at least. Schoolchildren who used to learn "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" are now being taught a host of additional topics, including speech, debate, geometry, calculus, and physics, among others. It's easy to see why some pupils may feel fragmented and have problems learning the necessary math facts.

Parents can play an important role at home in helping kids grasp math essentials. All it takes is a few minutes each day, a positive attitude, and a little ingenuity.

First, find out where your child is at in terms of math skills to date. Schedule a conference with the teacher to discuss where your son or daughter is doing well and where he or she is struggling. Ask the teacher for suggestions in helping to reinforce new math skills at home, especially if kids are learning basic math facts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The teacher also may be able to recommend resources that are especially designed for this age group.

Next, plan a routine time each evening where you can work with the child to practice math skills. This may be right after homework or following supper. You may need up to thirty minutes a day or longer to get your child firmly entrenched in the process of studying math basics. Arrange a comfortable and neat location in the house or porch where you won't be bothered. Consider offering a snack as enticement.

Then gather resource materials. The school library, public library, commercial bookstores, or school supply stores may be able to offer flash cards, workbooks, or teaching activities that will help train your child. You may want to take the boy or girl with you to help pick out things that seem appealing, or you may feel that a parent is the better judge of which items to use. You also can cruise the Internet to visit math sites, home schooling pages, and other academic locations to find activities that will interest your child. Start with one or two basic activities so your child won't feel overwhelmed.

Be patient. At first your child may seem anxious, confused, or bored. Experiment with a few different activities until you find one that seems to hold his or her attention. Work steadily on a single math-learning objective until your child demonstrates significant progress as indicated by improved homework and test scores at school.

Above all, try to make your time together fun and challenging. Avoid a lecture approach. Instead, depending on the child's age, use puppets, flash cards, competition (with you or a sibling), and other techniques to encourage practice with a set of math facts. Offer small rewards or incentives, such as chocolate candy bites or video rentals when the section is completed accurately. Be your child's coach and fan club simultaneously!

Math facts can be learned by rote or you can take a trial-and-error approach. Experiment with varied perspectives to find one both your child and you are comfortable with. Then keep at it until you see desired results and your child's confidence blooms.

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