Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips For Helping Your Child Who Is Struggling in Math: Part 1

According to an article from, someone was sharing how their child was beginning to struggle with more advanced elementary math. There were problems with keeping the numbers organized and keeping track of the math and the standard ‘use graph paper’ advice was given..

While graph paper may be all that’s needed, in reality, things that are easy for kids aren’t hard to keep track of. Most of the time we take messy math as a sign that kids need help being neater, whereas I would argue that messy math doesn’t matter if kids know what they are doing. By all means, break out the graph paper, but don’t expect it to be a cure all..

Here are some ways, besides graph paper, you can help your child when they hit the wall in math..

1. Avoid frustration. People stop learning when they are frustrated so back off whenever you sense your child is at their limit. This is the most important rule when it comes to helping kids with math..

2.Explain what the real problem is. Many kids begin to self identify as stupid or dumb or not good at math when they ‘hit the wall’. In reality the issue is a lack of study skills and a need to expand their knowledge base. Be sure your child understands this and explain this is probably not the first time they will experience this..

3. Praise hard work and effort instead of results. This encourages kids to keep trying and de-emphasizes getting the right answer which reduces pressure and frustration (see #1)..

4. Go back to when your child was successful. Work on math they’ve mastered and carefully observe how their thought process works. Since math so often builds on what came before, there may be some hints as to what went wrong in an earlier skill. Also, this gets kids back into their comfort zone and back to being successful..

5.Break new skills into smaller pieces or micro steps and do fewer problems, but do them slowly and frequently. Kids don’t need to do 25 problems to master a math skill, but they do need to see exactly what the steps are and need time to digest the process. Especially for something new that is challenging.

Tomorrow will be 5 more tips from on how to help the child that is struggling in math.

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