I remember breaking out in a cold sweat the first time my daughter brought home math homework. I always though I was good at math, but this first grade worksheet looked like it was written in a different language. How on earth was I going to help her with her homework?
Does your child's math homework make you want to throw up your hands in frustration? I hear from so many people that they are frustrated. As an adult, we think we should have no problem doing 1st grade math and when we discover we ARE having problems, it's frustrating. We want to blame the new way of doing math. We call it ridiculous and start cursing Common Core. Unfortunately, none of this helps our kids.
We all want to help our kids, right? So, what can you do?
It's not a hopeless cause.
1. Ask the teacher if there are any resources to help you. When you're at a loss, this should be your very first step. After all, no one knows what's going on in the classroom better than the teacher. Send them an email if anything confuses you. Maybe they know of an online resource that will help or maybe it's something a simple explanation will clear up.
Special Note: If your child's school uses the Everyday Mathematics curriculum (one of the most frustratingly confusing curriculum for parents), there are already parent help pages available. Our school sends them home to the parents and I've found them a great help. If you don't receive them, you can ask the teacher or access them yourself online. If you click on your child's grade level at the Everyday Mathematics Parents Resource section, you can find all of the parent letters.
2. Find an online resource. If you didn't get what you need from the teacher, or you need help FAST and can't wait, turn to an online resource. YouTube is a great resource and it's likely that you'll find what you need with a quick search. There are so many tutorials to help. Watch one by yourself, or watch it together with your child. Maybe the additional explanation, along with a video you can pause and rewatch, will get you past the hurdle.
You can also search blog posts. I'm creating an on-line resource here at Creative Family Fun for math homework help called Math Homework 101. You can find all resources at this page and I'm adding more all the time. If there's something I haven't covered that you need help with, just let me know. You can contact me through email, blog post comment, or any of my social media channels (all linked at the end of this post).
3. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't understand and use the opportunity to show your child how to look for answers. As parents, we don't always have the answers. I'm not afraid to say "I don't know" and I often follow up by working together with my girls to find an answer. If you're confused by a math concept, go online and search together. (Searching online is a skill your child needs to learn anyway.) Teach your child to search for answers instead of giving up.
4. Leave your biases and opinions behind. This is probably the number one most important thing you can do. Did you know that it is incredibly easy to pass along math anxiety to your kids? (Source) Scary, isn't it? If you need to vent, vent when you're out of earshot of your kids. If you complain about how stupid and ridiculous your child's homework is, they will think it's stupid and ridiculous. Math is so crucial to your kid's education. Don't risk passing your biases along to them.
Help your child be confident in math by being positive about their math homework.
So, the next time you feel that cold sweat forming, pause and take a deep breath. You can do this. You can survive your child's math homework.
For further reading:
Square Root of Kids' Math Anxiety: Their Parents' Help
5 Ways to Help Your Kid Not Stink at Math (such good information here!)
I wrote this post as part of the Kid Bloggers for Public School blog hop. Click the links below for more posts about homework.
Homework with Children in Different Years - Rainy Day Mum