our everyday life

How to Help My Son With Fourth-Grade Math

by Christopher Cascio

Knowing when and how to assist your children with schoolwork can be difficult, especially when a young child's strengths and weaknesses aren't fully matured. That said, fourth grade is a time when students are developing their understanding of relatively advanced mathematical concepts -- operations with fractions, decimal notation and data analysis -- and they might need some extra help along the way.

Consult His Teacher

The first step when looking for guidance on how to help your child with math should be to consult your child's teacher. The teacher may be able to inform you about programs within the school designed to be extra help for students, or outside programs that you may not currently be aware of. Also, the teacher should be able to specify what areas of the subject are giving your child the most difficulty. For example, if your child is struggling with addition and subtraction of multi-digit whole numbers, the teacher might be able to point out that his specific difficulty is with understanding place-value, and not with the nature of arithmetic.

Apply Concepts to Daily Life

One way to help your child better comprehend and retain the material covered in his fourth-grade math class is to find ways to incorporate those concepts into your everyday lives; doing so will add authenticity to what your child is learning. For example, the Common Core State Standards asserts that understandings of equivalence with fractions are developed in fourth grade: have your child help you bake a pie, and have him perform basic arithmetic operations within the context of the amounts of various ingredients, or use slices to represent fractions of the whole pie.

Online Exercises and Instruction

A multitude of online resources exist for both students and parents of fourth graders. For example, Education.com offers free online card games that teach positive and negative numbers. The University of Chicago's Everyday Mathematics at Home series host 12 full units of activities for fourth-grade math, which include lessons on decimals, fractions and even rates. Furthermore, the Khan Academy offers free, fully interactive instructional videos for your child's math level, including nine videos on the basics of measuring angles. As a parent, you must use your own discretion when deciding which type of help is best for your child, but you can -- and should -- always involve his teacher before making a choice for your child.

Private Tutors

If your schedule doesn't allow for you to help directly with your child's math needs, you can always look for a private tutor as a supplement to his regular school instruction. Check with your child's teacher to see if she thinks tutoring is the best way to help. The teacher might even be able to provide information about available tutors in your area. The teacher may offer to provide the tutoring personally, which can help maintain a healthy consistency with your child's education.

About the Author

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images