Even though it starts out relatively simple, math is an inherently hard subject to grasp. And the sooner a child becomes comfortable in math, the more likely he is to excel in the subject. The goal, says Don Fraser, author of Taking the Numb Out of Numbers, "is to make them as comfortable and confident in dealing with numbers as a lot of kids are with words." You can do your part to help your child make better sense of numbers by following these simple steps:
Encourage her to do her homework out loud. Whether your child is multiplying numbers or solving a problem, tell her to talk through it. That way she's more likely to spot her own mistakes and correct them.
Take turns doing the homework. Switch off who answers each question. Deliberately make a mistake on a problem, then have your child check your work. "It adds variety," says Fraser. "There is less of you hanging over the kitchen table as he pounds away on each question," and more partnership in finding the solution. "If you encourage him to mark your work, he's actually doing the question again."
Break problems into steps. Then reward her for her work. For example, when multiplying two digits by two digits, give her a star for getting the first line correct, a star for getting the second line correct, then another star for the final, third line. "It helps her diagnose where she's making a mistake," says Fraser, and gives her plenty of encouragement along the way.
Keep repetition to short bursts. Nobody's knocking repetition, but too much can get boring. "It's better to do three similar questions every night than to do 20 questions and move on to a different topic," Fraser says.
- Remember, you can always make a difference. At some point in your child's education, you'll reach a point where you don't feel you can help him anymore, perhaps because you didn't learn the subject, or he's moved beyond you. But it's important to always remember that you need to show him you value his education and that the subject is important.