Math can be very challenging for some kids (adults too). Unfortunately, math is one of those subjects that builds off of prior knowledge. So when children do not understand one concept, it only gets worse as they move on. It leads to a snowball effect that leave many kids so frustrated that they completely shut down. This makes it difficult to encourage your child to commit to extra practice at home. If math is not one of your favorite subjects either, then this can lead to an impossible situation and in some instances, a complete meltdown (and not always just from the kid). The best way to help these children is to simplify math in such a way that they can understand it and make learning it seem more like fun than work. I have included several resources that I have used as both a parent and a teacher with great success that will help you and your child survive math, and maybe even enjoy it.
Applying Math to Everyday Life
The most common phrase uttered in school is, “When am I ever going to use this?” When it comes to basic math, however, children are going to use these skills for the rest of their life. This is not something that they are going to be tested on and can file away somewhere never to be used again. When you apply learning to everyday life, and make it more hands-on, children understand it a lot better. There are many tasks your child can help you with that increases their math skills without them even realizing it. Cooking is a great way to help children practice measurements and fractions. If you have a rambunctious boy or a crafty daughter, you can come up with a small building or sewing project. Perhaps make a birdhouse or sew a pillowcase. They will see it as getting to spend time with mom and dad doing a fun project, not doing “math”. You really have to individualize it for your child; incorporate math into things that they enjoy doing.
Fun Games and Memorization Tricks
You can make a game out of anything; there are lots of good suggestions on the internet. You can search for a game to help your child with whatever specific skill they are having trouble with. When I taught fifth grade we had several kids who were still struggling with long division. We came up with a fun cheer with movements to help them remember the basic steps: Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down. It really helped those struggling with which step comes next. Some other fun games that I have used that help with math skills include math bingo, blackjack (helps with quick addition), Sudoku puzzles, and the mad minute where students are given a sheet of simple math problems to solve in under a minute (can be addition, subtraction, multiplication or division).
Technology Can Help
In this age of technology, most households own a tablet, smart phone or personal computer (if not your local library should provide access). There are a myriad of educational apps and websites that help children learn, and the great part is, they don’t even realize they are doing work. Some students learn better from hands on games than from a textbook. It helps them apply what they are learning in a way that makes sense to them.
Both www.ixl.com/math and www.mathblaster.com are websites that offer a great deal of resources for free, but you can receive additional benefits with a paid membership. Both have math games categorized by grade level. Math Blaster also offers tips to help simplify math skills.
www.sheppardsoftware.com/math.htm has an extensive variety of creative math games organized by topic.
www.kidsites.com gives parents and teachers links to a multitude of educational websites for many subjects, including math.
www.funbrain.com has games for math and other subjects, as well. This website is geared more towards younger students.
If your child is struggling with multiplication facts, www.multiplication.com has an interactive times table, online games and quizzes for students. This website also features tips for parents and teachers to help simplify topics and make learning stress-free.
These are some of the websites I have personally used and we suggest to parents at our school. There are many resources on the internet; you have to see what works best for your child. Each child is unique and has their own specific learning style. The most important thing is to make it fun so they want to do it. If you are battling your child every night, you are eventually going to get as frustrated as they are. You want to make learning as enjoyable as possible so your child will want to be a lifelong learner.