PSA: You don’t have to be a mathematician to successfully help your kids with their math homework; there are other ways in which one can help…
Truth bomb: If math skills were a parent-prerequisite, I wouldn’t have had kids at all. I suffered through every math class I ever took and so did my parents before me. I was so bad at math that I got busted cheating (twice!) and the teachers never wrote me up.
They quietly removed my cheat sheet from my calculator and looked at me with pity in their eyes showed that they knew that, for me, taking the test was punishment enough.
In the process, I honed my human skills and, as it turns out, those can actually get you much further anyway.
So, here I am, a parent to twins whose math homework isn’t letting up anytime soon. They, of course, have already caught onto the dirty little math secret I’ve just divulged to you–you know, that I basically can’t subtract, multiply, or divide… So, they look forward to the days when “math grandma” babysits. (Who are we kidding? So do I.)
However, I am still a mom who can’t completely avoid my kids’ math homework. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick and choose the things we like to do or are good at when we birth children. You are in it no matter what and, if you are like me and still use your fingers to count, then you are going to like this post.
Here are 5 ways you can help your child with math even when you feel helpless.
Take an interest…even if you actually have none.
Be present in the space in which your child is working and show an interest. Read the problem aloud and give it a whirl, even if you are thinking “WTF?” Pretending to be good at math is like acting: put your best foot forward and, if you succeed, you can rest easy knowing you have fooled your kids into thinking you are math smart; if you find yourself struggling alongside your child, exercise your parental right to circle and note the specific problem causing question and send it back to the teacher. Remember, you aren’t the teacher, you are the one who does everything else–let them handle the math.
Youtube is your friend!
I want to hate Youtube. Really, I do. But the fact is, this video platform is one of the greatest resources that exist online. You can learn everything from how to record a podcast to step-by-step instructions on any math concept that exists on planet Earth. Use this tool! Check this online academy out.
Be positive and supportive (in conjunction with yoga breaths).
New math concepts can be tricky for some and might require some positive reinforcement and words of encouragement along the way. Kids get easily frustrated these days because they are accustomed to this world of immediate gratification. Newsflash. Yeah, school takes some work. Common phrases used around here are, “practice makes awesome” and “it doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters where you finish.” When the positivity well runs dry, seek refuge in some deep breaths. The kids can do those too!
This approach to helping with math at home is my favorite one, and also the most hygge. There are endless amounts of games you can play in an effort to help with math skills. We like “Life” and “UNO” the best, but “Monopoly” and “Yahtzee” are also enjoyable games with math components. Why not make math fun…especially for those of us who never quite got the fun in math? If you really want to have some fun, bust out a puzzle and improve your brain health!
Implement a timer.
Timers are tools both kids and adults can implement in their daily practice. Shoot, even Lauren and I have implemented the Pomodoro Method to ensure we aren’t spending too much time on one subject. The same goes for the kids. Set an age-appropriate time limit for whatever math task is at hand and get after it. When the time is up, have the young student move on. If progress was made or even completed, well done! If not, that’s okay. Send a note back stating the amount of time spent–that gives the teacher a better understanding of how your child is progressing or where they might need some extra attention.
Hire a tutor or that smart kid from around the corner.
Honestly, when all else fails, bring in the reinforcements. We all know that sometimes it is just better to step away and let someone else take the reins. We all have our strengths. Some lie in the math department and some of us are better with people. Both, equally as important. It takes a village to raise these kids and that does not exclude math experts.