Even if you can’t do your eighth grader’s math homework, you can boost your child’s math-savvy at home with these math tips for parents.

  1. Embrace your inner square!

    Want to make sure your child knows some basic square roots? Hand them the clock off the wall. Each number represents a solution. Using sticky notes, replace each number with its square root equation. For example, 6 is √36. Help your child memorize their perfect squares up to 400 so they will be ready to do more advanced work with square roots.

  2. So irrational!

    Your eighth grader might associate irrational with unreasonable, but irrational numbers are simply numbers that cannot be written as a ratio. The most famous one is pi, which is used to measure the length around a circle, or diameter. Teach your child its usefulness by having them measure around a clock, the circle on a basketball court, or a dinner plate.

  3. Don’t be so diss-functional!

    When your eighth grader comes home talking about input and output, you know they’re learning functions, one of the key mathematical concept for all of high school math. Need a refresher? We’re with you. See how an award-winning middle school math teacher explains this idea in 38 seconds!

  4. Getting straight on linear equations

    Is your eighth grader simply going through the motions or do they actually understand what they’re doing when they do algebra? Watch this video to help you tell the difference.

  5. Model to motivate

    Ask your child’s teacher for a range of sample problems that eighth graders should be able to solve — from easy ones to brain-teasing stumpers. Can you solve them yourself? Ask the teacher to explain each one, and then take them home and try them with your child. Your interest + tackling problems together = a much more motivated math student.

  6. The problem with word problems

    A lot of kids who can “do the math” struggle when it means navigating between reading descriptions of random situations and figuring out the numerical calculations. The new math standards emphasize this kind of math because it more closely approximates how we use math in real life. How can you help your child with word problems? First, check out how these kids break down eighth grade word problems, then use some of their strategies with your child.

  7. Monkey see, math anxiety do

    If you’re one of the many people who suffers from math anxiety, it’s best for your child if you keep that dread under wraps. If you say things like, “I hate math,” or worse, “I just don’t have the math gene,” your child will do worse in math. Research shows if you embrace math and show your child how useful it is in everyday life, your child’s attitude — and math scores — will be positively affected. Learn what the foremost expert on math anxiety says you should say when your child complains about math.

  8. Calculated design

    Get your child thinking about the long-term value of math. This week, slip it into conversation that you need math skills to design the perfect pair of jeans, be an architect, invent a video game, and even to work as a successful garden designer. Think about your child’s passions and drop a few hints about how that profession might use math. Then, have your kid design their dream house.

  9. Math musically

    Want to help your eighth grader build math muscles? Don’t forget that there are other ways than straight-up math. Music is one of many pursuits that teach complex pattern making, a crucial skill for higher mathematics. Learn about the science behind the math-music connection.

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Updated: December 5, 2019