Parent Tips for Back to School Math Problems

Mathnasium Learning Center expert Bobby Tarnowski shares his top tricks.

Ahh, fall – my favorite time of year! Wonderful colors, cooler and drier air, and apple picking—I just love it all! Then there’s “back to school” everything. The anticipation of new clothes, new teachers, new schools, and the hope of better grades. Such excitement.

However, although this is the season of falling leaves, apples, and eventually snow, some things that shouldn't fall are grades and enthusiasm in math class. If you’re concerned about getting your students started on the right track in math class this school year, here are a few tips you can use to help.

One of the best ways to help your student is by making time to help them with their math homework. But is this option best for everyone? Apparently not. Did you know that if the thought of helping with math homework makes you nervous, it may negatively impact your child? According to a CBS News report "math-anxious parents may be less effective in explaining math concepts to children, and my not respond well when children make a mistake."If the idea of helping your child with his or her homework causes anxiety, you might consider getting some outside help. At the very least try to reinforce with your student the importance of their learning.

Another great way to help your student with math is just talking and engaging with them about "math-y" things. When you converse with your children, take time—make time - to talk with them about things that involve numbers, computation, number sense and basic problem solving. Dust off an analog clock, dig some real coins and bills out from the sofa, break out the measuring cups or tape measures, find some playing cards or dice in the junk drawer, and get involved with your students in any activity using these objects. Not only can this be fun time spent together, it generally creates a great environment for their learning.

Lastly, if you sense your student is starting to show signs of getting frustrated or bored with their math class, it could be because they're either not understanding the material, or not being challenged enough by it. In either case, you would be wise to not wait or ignore it. Talk with your student and his or her teacher about your concerns as soon as possible. Math is sequential and, left unaddressed, small issues can have long-lasting consequences. It's entirely possible that the best way to help your student is to get help from an independent learning center where your student can receive individual attention and a different approach likely unavailable at their school.

At Mathnasium, it is our wish for all students to have an outstanding, life-changing math education. If you ever wish to find extra help for your students, we'd be happy to talk with you about how to keep their grades from going the way of the leaves!