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Things Parents Can Do to Increase Math Skills

by Shelley Frost

No matter what your experience is with math, supporting your child's number knowledge gives her a step up in the classroom. Everything from your attitude toward her math homework to the type of games you play work into her math experience. With numbers in mind even when she's not at school, you can help your child have a positive attitude and a better understanding of math.

Stay Positive

Your own attitude about math can rub off on your child. If you constantly talk about how difficult math is or how no one uses math in real life, your child gets the impression that it isn't an important skill. If you feel intimidated by math, your child might feel that math is something to fear or avoid. A negative attitude about math puts up barriers for your child, making the subject more difficult. Talk about math in a positive way, whether it's her homework assignment or your own use of math.

Help With Homework

Lending a hand when she sits down to do math homework allows you to check her understanding of the assignment. Review the math concepts on the homework assignment before she starts the work. If she can't explain it to you or solve a practice problem on her own, going through the concept step-by-step helps her out. For example, if she's struggling with story problems, read through one with her, helping her pick out key pieces of information. Show her how to use different techniques, such as drawing an image to illustrate the problem. Supervising the homework allows you to get her back on track if she has difficulty. When possible, use the proper math terminology to help her commit it to memory.

Play Games

When the math homework is done, games offer a playful way to reinforce math skills. You probably already own board games that involve basic math concepts, such as counting, adding and handling money. As you play those games, point out how you're using math. You can also play games more directly related to math skills. For estimation, use a jar of buttons or other small objects so she can guess how many items are inside. For a simple game on number sense, have your child guess a secret number, giving clues such as whether it is even or odd. A pretend store in the playroom helps her learn about money and counting.

Use Real World Math

You probably don't think about all the ways you use math during the day. Estimating how much you're spending at the store, calculating how much of something to buy, reconciling your bank account and using measurements in a recipe are just a few examples. When you find yourself crunching numbers, point it out to your child. Give her the chance to try out her own real-world math. If she's having friends over, have her figure out how many packages of juice boxes she'll need. If she eats school lunch, help her calculate how much money she needs for the week to pay for lunches. Those daily math examples reinforce the concepts and give her a chance to practice with numbers.

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