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Best ways to help with math homework

Use these tips to help your child with her math homework.

By Miriam Myers

The math your child brings home may look different from the math you remember doing as a child. How can you help if you don't understand it? And if you do understand it, how can you guide him without just giving him the answer?

Here are some helpful tips to guide your child:

  • Go over the directions with her and find out what she does and doesn't understand about the assignment.
  • Encourage him to find another math student he can call for help if he's unclear about the assignment or wants to review a class lesson.
  • Ask her where she thinks she should begin.
  • Ask him if he can find information in his notes to solve the problem.
  • Ask if there is a similar problem in her textbook or one she did in class.
  • Suggest that he draw or make a model to explain his thinking.
  • Ask more guiding questions as she progresses, such as "What should you do next?" "Is this answer reasonable?" "Did you answer the question?" "Can you solve it another way?"
  • If he struggles to understand the subject matter or has trouble keeping up with the amount of homework assigned, ask his teacher for recommendations.
  • Suggest looking for homework help online. Math.com has math help for parents and students.
  • Remember to resist the temptation to do the homework for her.
  • The greatest impact on a child's attitude about math is the parent's attitude about math. Show an interest in math and point out to your child the many ways you use math in your everyday life. Help your child understand that every parent is a mathematician.

Next: How is your child's school teaching math?

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

02/13/2012:
"thank you "
10/1/2010:
"I think that maths is very simple as long as you have a good math teacher, ask for help and put your mind to it. Parents should help their children by working with them."
01/4/2010:
"I want to help my grandson do his homework, but I do not understand the math he does in class. He does not understand it either. What I need is someone to help me understand the problem so I can tell if he is even doing it correctly. "
07/7/2009:
"Thanks so much for your help in keeping the community informed about all aspects of our children's elementary education. I esppecially appreciate the tips on doing math homework and the results of NJ ASk scores. How important do you think these results are in deciding to let a child continue attending classes at any particular school. Thanks again for your help and guidance, I do appreciate it."
01/5/2009:
"Angle A and B are supplementary to each other. Angle a measures (2x+25) and Angle B measures (X+5). What is the value of x? "
12/10/2008:
"I do homework with my grandaughter. Its been a long time since I did math problems and some I do need help with, but I think I know the basics. However, she will argue with me and tell me ' this is not the way we do it!'...But, she doesn't know how to get the answer. How can I get her to see that I am not stupid, lol, and am only trying to help her? Thanks for any help."
03/4/2008:
"Thanks so much for your help in keeping the community informed about all aspects of our children's elementary education. I esppecially appreciate the tips on doing math homework and the results of NJ ASk scores. How important do you think these results are in deciding to let a child continue attending classes at any particular school. Thanks again for your help and guidance, I do appreciate it."
02/27/2008:
"Hey my daughter need serious help in math can y'all help my daughter out she in the 8th grade!!!!!!!!"
02/20/2008:
"This site is helpful. Thank You"
01/14/2008:
"Hello, My name is Debra West. We live in South Georgia. My daughter is 13 and in the 7th grade. She struggles daily with her academics but most concerningly is her Math. She has failed her math classes repeatedly this year. Her teacher has stopped giving them homework. He says he did this becuse the children were not getting the answers correct and I guess it was taking too long to review. But my concern is that my daughter is not really getting the kind of practice she needs. We have had 2 teachers conferences. She was doing poorly in all subjects but has brought those grades up and we still work on improving them, but math is just not moving. I have been thinking about putting her in a program, but the program will not follow what the school is doing. I am hesitant because I do not want to confuse her. What should I do? Any suggestions?"
10/19/2007:
"Great ideas and advice. Keep up the good work and we'll be able to do the same."
07/26/2007:
"Thanks for your suggestions Do you have suggestions for web based spelling programs or spelling programs in general? thanks so much. We love your website!"
06/20/2007:
"These are some great tips. I use them with my child and it really has helped her alot. Thanks."
04/9/2007:
"i think tour tips on how to help with homework are helpful since i have been useing them i find home ork is so much easier to do"
11/28/2006:
"These tips are great tools for parents as well as our students. With the everyday stresses in life that we all face; I believe that as a parent we ought to take the time out to sit down with our children and understand their school/homework. Helping them is a great confidence booster for them in the classroom and they will begin to enjoy school more. When we are involved in our children's academics, they will be more apt to come to us for help. Military Wife Ft. Lewis, WA."
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