The 14 Most Effective Ways to Help Your Kids with MathAll Posts
Written by Ashley Crowe
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Math can be a daunting subject. Not only does it cover a huge range of skills, but it’s also one of the few subjects where a strong understanding of the fundamentals is essential for future learning.
Math is taught differently now than when many parents were in school. There’s more focus on the basics, which is great (no, really, it is). But that can feel incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to help your child understand their math homework.
No matter your history with math, you can still help your child master mathematical concepts at home. And you may even have some lightbulb moments you missed in middle school.
Whether your child is struggling with math or wants to improve their skills, It’s time to ditch the math stress and tackle this subject together! Keep reading for our 14 best tips to help kids with math.
How to help kids with math at home (even if you hate math)
If you have a less than stellar math history, it’s okay! You can still help your child learn the math they need to succeed. Here’s how.
1. Maintain a positive attitude
A lot of kids (and adults) feel anxiety when presented with a math problem. But if your child is struggling with a concept, that doesn’t mean they’re bad at math. You’re not bad at math either!
Math is a skill that takes practice, just like any other. You’ll learn it, even if it’s confusing right now. This just means you don’t understand it yet.
Encourage this attitude with your child to help them build their math confidence. They can grow into math understanding, but it takes time. Use a growth mindset approach and you’ll both be amazed at what you can learn.
2. Ask math questions that interest your child
Let’s face it — some math can be boring. If your kid doesn’t care much about trains, why should they care about how fast they’re going or where they’ll meet? Instead of pushing them to answer these standard questions, ask them about what they’re actually interested in.
Math is everywhere. You’ll find mathematical relationships throughout nature. Your child can discover angles and physics while jumping toy monster trucks. Or they can explore measurements while baking or doing crafts.
Find numbers in what they already love and watch their interest in math grow!
3. Encourage communication
Your kid can talk your ear off about their favorite Roblox game, but when it comes to school questions, they shut down. That’s normal, but it can also make it difficult to keep up with their studies.
When possible, try to open up some judgement-free conversations about math. Ask how it’s going and if they feel good about their new lessons. Don’t jump in and try to solve their problems right away. And be careful about remarks like, “oh, that’s easy”. If they talk, just listen.
If your child is reluctant to share, check in with their teacher. Ask about the topics they’re studying and how you can help. Then, use these insights to get the conversation going at home.
4. Be patient and take it slow
Math builds on itself, but that means it can be tricky to keep up if your child is struggling with a new concept. When this happens, slow down and back up. Don’t keep pushing new ideas until they understand the old ones.
This same advice works for you, too. Be patient with yourself — it’s been a while since you’ve learned 4th grade math, and the work may look a lot different now. But with some time and perseverance, you can help your child succeed.
5. Practice and refine math vocabulary
Math vocabulary is all around us, but that doesn’t mean we’re very comfortable with it. Try using math vocabulary in everyday language and it will slowly start feeling a lot less intimidating. Bring up percentages when you're shopping a sale, or talk about parts of a whole while cooking.
Of course, there are plenty of math words we don’t see everyday. Do you remember exponents, tangents, or the commutative property? If not, that’s totally okay! All you need is a refresher and some practice.
For example, when your child is studying areas, take some time to make sure you understand what you’re actually discovering. Understanding the bigger concept (calculating the amount of surface space vs just plugging in length and width) is what will bring those light bulb moments.
6. Show math in everyday life
We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating — math is everywhere. It’s probably not trigonometry or pre-calculus, but you’re doing math all the time. Pay attention and you’ll catch these math moments. When you do, share them with your child.
When kids are young, just counting or sorting is a great start. As they get older, look for math lessons while baking, shopping, playing games, or talking about money. Budgeting is a major life skill that uses so much math. Find these practical math moments and help your child see the value in a math education.
7. Get your child to teach you math
Math looks a little different now. If your kid’s homework is confusing for you, ask them to explain their process.
This is a great connecting moment to share with your child. And it can set you up to be a better helper if they run into frustration in later lessons.
8. Talk about math around the house
Seriously, math is everywhere. It’s true! And that means you’re not bad at math — you do it every day! Find places to use math around your house to help your child’s math abilities come to life.
Count the slices of pizza the next time you order out, then determine the percentage of pizza everyone has eaten. Get your little ones to help you sort socks. Talk about the probability of rolling an even number during your family night board game session. Look around and you’ll find tons of opportunities!
9. Use online math resources
If you have access to the internet, there’s always somewhere you can get all of your math questions answered.
There are many free learning resources, like those on the Prodigy blog. Give them a read and then explore math together with your child. There are always opportunities to learn something new online, especially when it comes to math!
10. Try game-based learning
If you find your child getting frustrated, ditch the textbooks and worksheets and try something different.
Game-based learning is all the rage, and for good reason. Kids are naturally drawn to games, whether they’re cooperative board games or video games played on their tablets. Why? Because games are fun and exciting!
Game-based learning can take the stress out of math instruction. Kids can practice their math with just the right mix of the familiar and the challenging.
Prodigy Math, for example, is a game-based learning platform where players explore fantasy worlds, build characters and battle friends — all while answering curriculum-aligned math questions!
The adaptive algorithm always adjusts to math your child’s grade and skill level, so they can grow their math confidence while you take a homework break. And with your own parent account, you can support their learning and keep track of what they’re working on.
11. Join education-based parent groups
Looking for new and effective ways to help your child with their studies? Join some parent-led groups focused on education (try the Prodigy Parent Community on Facebook!). Online or local in-person groups are great for finding a variety of tips and tricks to help you help your child.
Homeschooling groups are a great place to start. Or ask other parents from your child’s class how they’re coping with the newest lesson. You can even use Instagram to find parent influencers sharing their best ideas for helping your child learn. Parents understand the struggle, and they’re here to help!
12. Keep the workspace neat and tidy
Where does your child do most of their homework?
If they’re working at the kitchen table, help them stay focused by removing distractions from the area. If they have their own desks, remind them to neaten it up every now and again. Math requires focus, and a cluttered space can lead to a distracted mind.
13. Provide homework help
It’s rare that a child loves doing homework. It’s already been a long day, and it’s understandable if they just want to get back to the things they love. If your child is really struggling with homework, offer to help!
It’s frustrating to look at the same problem over and over and never see the solution. That’s not helping them learn — it’s just breaking their confidence. Instead, step in with a fresh set of eyes and tackle it together. Talk through the problem and give a new perspective. It may be just what they need for their next “a-ha” moment.
14. Consider getting a math tutor
As your child moves into high school math courses, you may reach the end of your math comfort levels. In this case, look at your child’s math tutoring options.
Another student in class may do the trick. But if that’s not the right fit, find an experienced educator, whether you’re looking for in-person or online tutoring sessions. This may be just the thing your child needs to boost their academic confidence.
Making math homework challenging and fun
If your child barely makes it through their nightly math problems, look for ways to add a little fun to their practice.
Is there a way to relate their latest math lesson to one of their favorite things? For elementary students, think of beloved TV show characters or toys. Early math (like addition and subtraction) is easy to take off the page with their favorite toy collection. Create a set of rocks or stuffed animals. Then add, take away and sort.
Even high school math can be better understood using fun learning moments. Angles can be explored while playing a game of pool. Or throw a Pi day extravaganza, complete with delicious treats. Get creative, and be sure to celebrate their math wins along the way!
Look for signs of math struggle
It’s normal for your child to run into some difficulty in their math classes. Math is a complicated subject, and it can get very abstract at times. Encourage them to keep trying and use our tips above to help them along their learning journey.
But sometimes the struggle can build to a point where they may need additional help. Talk with your child’s teacher if you notice any of these signs of school struggle:
- Falling grades
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of communication
- Change in emotional state
- Lack of enthusiasm about school
Your child may not communicate the stress they feel, but try talking with them. They may have just fallen behind and have lost some of their confidence with math. Or it may be more than just math class affecting their mood. Open up communication to figure out the cause of their struggles, then brainstorm a solution plan together with their teacher.
How Prodigy can help kids with math
Over the last couple of years, many have felt the pressure of trying to be both parent and teacher. If you find both you and your kids struggling with their math lessons, step back and try Prodigy Math.
This engaging learning platform can help you keep math learning fun and your child’s confidence high!
To them, it’s a fun video game they can enjoy during screen time. But while they’re enjoying the exciting world of Prodigy, they can practice math while you monitor their progress from the parent dashboard.
Prodigy meets your child where they are and keeps them on track with grade standards. No more butting heads or stressful kitchen table math lessons.
Give Prodigy Math a try today and take the stress out of your evenings!