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Parent + Child = Math Success

Parents play such an important role in helping students do well and really understand the math. But, many parents and children get very frustrated when they try to work together. Often they just won’t work together. Many times this just leads to unfinished or untried homework.

Let’s look at this together and come up with some winning techniques to mastering the homework.

Set the table.

Environment is key. Find a quiet place in your house with a table or desk where both of you can fit and see each other’s work, no TV, radio, music, or smartphones allowed. If your child is right handed, the parent should be on the left so you can see them work. Make sure all the materials are there, textbook, blank paper, assignment, calculator, handouts, and notes. Parents should have scratch paper as well.

Use this time to discuss the day’s events.

Put everyone at ease and talk with your child. See how the day went. Discuss how the math class is going. Does your child enjoy his math teacher? Just a couple of minutes to check in can help settle everyone down.

Have your child lead the homework time.

It is vital that your child takes ownership of his learning. It will help him build confidence, feel more free to answer questions, and talk to his teacher about successes and questions he may have. That doesn’t mean you sit mute. You can ask questions of your child. Ask what section in the book they are doing, what is the main topic of the homework. Chances are your child isn’t even thinking about this. The more they state what they are learning, the more it will stick.

Do NOT do the problems for your child!

Nothing will be learned from this activity except you feeling smart about getting the problem done. Fight this urge at all costs! If it is a particularly tough problem for your child or they have no idea where to start, then ask them to look in their notes for the day. Look for a similar problem they did in class. See if that can get them started. Look in the textbook for similar examples worked out. Ask your child if they had to do something, what would that be? Then you can assess if that might work.

Model how to solve a SIMILAR problem for your child.

If your child is hopelessly stuck on a problem, then go ahead and show them. You can do a SIMILAR problem to the one they are stuck on. You don’t have to make it up, find one in the section that was not assigned. Don’t race through the problem. Do lots of talking. Explain what you are thinking about at each step. Give them hints for what to look for in the problem. Show every step of the solution, even if it is really easy. This will do wonders for your child’s understanding. Do a CHECK of the answer. This gives another tool for a future quiz or test to make sure they get the best score possible. Finally, ask your child if they understood what you just did and if they have any questions.

Flying Solo, sort of.

As your child attempts the problem, don’t gasp, chuckle, or pull your hair out. Let them wrestle with it. You won’t be there on the day of the quiz, so don’t give any clues along the way. If you see something is wrong, wait until your child is done. Then you can say, “I see 2 places you made a mistake. Can you find them?” If not enough work is shown, first cheer them on for the right answer, but make them go back and show all the work correctly. Be a coach, be a cheerleader!

Check Up.

Give your child some time to work on their own, but do check in from time to time. Breathing down their neck can be very nerve wracking. After a reasonable amount of time, check in and ask how they are doing. If they want you to check their answers, encourage them to look them up in the book first. Again, taking ownership is everything. Then do a quick spot check that they are showing enough work, that it is legible, and complete.

Hopefully this gave you a few tips to destressing math homework time at your house. As a parent, you don’t have to know how to do every topic in math. You just need to direct your child to resources to find out how to do it themselves.

If this math is still intimidating, don’t be hard on yourself. Most parents get to this point somewhere along the line. Just like math itself, just stick with it, ask questions, and get help when needed.

If you found this blog helpful, please feel free to share it. My name is Terri Grigsby. I do online math tutoring and in person tutoring in the Portland, Oregon area. I am accepting new students, check out my website at look around, and book a tutoring session. If you have any questions, you can always contact me on my website or at

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