“We have to move on class.” Has your child ever been told this by their teacher? Math for some students, just seems to fly right over their heads. Has your child ever stated “I am really trying to listen to my teacher, but I don’t understand anything he or she is writing on the board ” When you find this is the case for your child, in order to help, what’s key is taking one concept at a time, just one, because chances are your child is feeling overwhelmed by the whole idea of math. Upon taking that one concept the two of you are working on, you may need to cut way back on your explanation in helping your child to understand.
When working with students, I discovered some of them were afraid to show they didn't know a particular concept, because as far as they were concerned, they were supposed to understand, yet they didn’t. I had to help them see, it was safe to let me know this. The manner in which I worked with them was one of warmth, never of ridicule or surprise if the child did not understand. If the environment felt unsafe to a child, they shut right off. When I exhibited support, immediately I would experience relief in my student and subsequently a willingness on the student’s part to ‘give it a go’. In my 5th grade classes I found routinely, some of the kids did not know what a fraction was and therefore were unable to move forward into adding, understanding equivalent fractions, changing mixed numbers to improper fractions and the reverse. In fact when I began teaching 5th grade, I had to relearn concepts. I also realized parents sometimes needed to do the same. What I did routinely was cut back for the students. I could never assume they understood a concept at some pre-decided level. I regularly started from square A.
For instance with fractions, I would show them how a fraction worked. I would draw a circle and divide it into 3 parts, shade in the 1 to show just what 1/3 meant. I would spend perhaps two days having them practice strictly drawing fractions; 2/5, 3/10 etc. Finding your child’s level of entry needs to be done with every new concept you and your child take on. The amount you need to cut back can vary significantly one concept to the next. Your child may be great at determining area, but may be having it rough with angles. Take it a step at a time. This is how the math concept as a whole will be mastered, one step at a time.
Once your child has moved up the line, then they will be able to calculate the multi-step problems that go hand in hand with math. At homework time or whenever you are working with your child, let your child know, you are there to help him or her get it, and that you will work with them to ensure that happens. Set a clear goal of just how much work your child will need to accomplish.
Once your child understands the steps of how to do a particular type of problem, cut them loose on their own. Then check a problem periodically to see how they are coming along. If wrong answers are appearing, many times with multiple step problems, they may be calculating incorrectly only one of the steps. If this is the case, help your child see that Hey, it's only this one step of five, so that's not so bad Once you handle the missed step, all should sail smoothly from there Then rejoice with a cookie and a “Good going ” to your child. So again, find your child’s true level of entry on a concept. Let them know it’s ok if they do not understand something.
Work the concept, one step at a time. Set up expectations. If your child is doing multi-step problems and getting them wrong, check to see if it’s perhaps just one step they are confused on. And . . . . . don’t forget to rejoice with a “Good going.” Very important, that last step.