Helping your child with high school maths
Teachers talk about how you can help your child with high school maths, even if it's not your strongest subject.
At a glance
- You don't have to be good at maths to support your child.
- Saying "I was bad at maths too" gives your child an excuse not to try.
- Look at their class workbook to see the examples their teacher has already shown.
- Encourage them to keep trying. Maths is something we master with practise.
- If your child is continuing to have trouble understanding maths, send a note to their teacher.
If maths wasn't your best subject at high school, trying to help your child can be nerve-wracking. Here's some advice from experienced teachers.
You definitely, as a parent, don't have to be a subject expert to help your child. Being interested in what they're learning about, asking what they're learning about will really help and consolidate the learning that they're doing in class.
One of the best things a parent can do to help is to know the equipment that a child needs at school.
And in the early days of high school especially, help them pack their bags. Make sure they've got a calculator make sure they've got their materials, their mathematics workbook, their ruler, pens and pencils.
Help them do that because what you're doing, you're helping them put into practice a regular routine.
Parents need to be positive about mathematics with their kids even if they struggled with it at home themselves. They need to maintain a positive attitude with their kids, and not make excuses for their kids [such as], "Oh I was bad at maths at school, so that's probably why you're bad at maths at school".
For a parent to say to a child, "I was poor at maths," is probably the worst thing that can happen, because that gives the child the green light, not to try themselves
If as a parent you don't feel confident about maths yourself, the best thing you can do for your child is try and be as positive about it as possible.
The key thing to helping a student with mathematics is to find out where the problem is. Because mathematics is modularised, in other words, we have units that we learn, which are like little bricks I suppose. If you can find out which little brick is a bit loose and then straighten it up then you can build on that.
If it gets to Thursday night and your child is having a meltdown around homework, you need to determine straight away if it's a time management issue, or a content issue.
So for instance, if there is a process and you don't understand part of the process, ask about that part of the process.
The best way to help your child with maths homework is to have a look at what they've written in their reference book. There'll be examples of questions and how the teacher wants the questions set out, and how to do the work.
So if your child is struggling with some concept they're dealing with in the classroom, have a look at their workbook and have a look at what has come before the struggle.
Have a look at the sample the teacher has provided, have a look at the worked solutions that have happened in the classroom, because they're guided solutions where the teacher will work through with the student what the solution will look like, and then they let the kids go and work independently.
And quite often the lesson finished before the student gets a lot of practise at the independent stage and that's why we need homework.
The secret of maths is to be consistent and persistent. And if you're a student who struggles with it, the idea is to ensure that you ask plenty of questions, that you review your work on a nightly basis, and that you pick up on the little things that you're not aware of.
Students need to stick at it and understand that there are periods of frustration like in any other subject.
Primary school students usually don't have to study for a maths test. They're just tested on what they know, but in high school it's a bit different, we want them to study for the tests, and in order to do that they have to practice the questions.
Practise, practise, practise. If you get your hands on as much practise material as you can and you do it on a regular basis, you'll be okay.
It's important to set up good study skills, and regular study skills.
With mathematics, because you can clearly identify where your weaknesses are, if you continue to work on them, and maintain revising your strengths, then it'll all be good in the end.
Don't be embarrassed if maths isn't a strong suit of yours, you can always give the school, or a classroom teacher a call for some extra assistance.
Maths is a very learnable subject and if you take it step by step, people can experience success in it.
And for more help with high school homework have a look at the fact sheets, glossaries and step-by-step videos for parents at www.schoolatoz.com.au
What do you do at home to help with your child's maths homework? Do you struggle to show enthusiasm about subjects you weren't that into at school?
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