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Feeling hopeless and frustrated trying to work through maths problems that you simply don’t understand? Tired of dealing with homework tantrums alone? Rachel Kidson is a maths author and former maths teacher from Eedi – an online maths platform for kids to help them build confidence in maths. Today she shares some expert tips to help single parents push through those maths homework blues.
Eedi is running a free Maths Anxiety webinar for parents on Wednesday 12th May at 8pm so if the maths fear is real, book your place here.
Helping with homework can be difficult at the best of times, but if you have struggled with maths in the past then you may feel apprehensive about helping your child.
It is important to remember that you can support them in so many ways without actually needing to know a thing about what they are doing!
Let’s look at 5 tips that will help make maths homework a positive experience (and less stressful!) for you and your child:
Sound obvious? Using objects from around the house, also known as manipulatives, can help create a real in-depth understanding, instead of just learning a procedure.
Manipulatives are small physical items that can be used to represent a maths problem. For instance if you are trying to solve 14 – ? = 9 you could have 14 pennies and work out how many you need to take away to be left with 9. It might sound simple, but it really can help.
When children (and adults!) are feeling anxious about maths they cannot hold numbers in their head in the same way as normal – panic sets in, and you just mind-blank – so having something concrete to move around can really make a huge difference.
Ideas for manipulatives you can find around the home are coins, dried pasta, sweets, rice, torn-up paper, counters and game pieces. Manipulatives can be used for much more complicated areas of maths too such as negative numbers, fractions and even algebra!
This technique is really helpful for children who clam-up and become nervous when asked to talk about their reasoning.
Take a small doll / character and have them “do the maths”. Why? It takes the pressure off of the child as they are not being directly asked what they would do so there is less accountability if they make a mistake.
You can use prompts such as:
“Let’s get [character] to help us with this maths problem”
“Which numbers would [character] divide first?”
“Would [character] add a zero?”
“What would [character] do next?”
Use ‘Question Prompts’
Is your child struggling with their homework, but you just can’t work out how to help them? Maybe they’re using a method that’s unfamiliar to you or you cannot work out what is being asked of them?
In these instances try using these question prompts instead. Question prompts allow you to support your child without having to know anything about what they are learning. The idea is to help your child see the question from a different perspective and this can be enough for it to magically click!
Here are some ideas:
- How did your teacher go about solving these problems?
- Can you explain to me what the question is asking?
- Can we draw the problem in a different way?
- Can we use these counters to represent the problem?
- Can we just work out one part of the problem first?
- What can you work out?
You don’t have to know the answer
It is OKAY not to know the answer to everything! This just shows our children that we are human and can be really empowering for them. The important thing to remember is to try to keep negative language and emotions at bay.
Try framing it in a positive light. Keep it light-humoured. For example “Oh, I have forgotten how to do that as well, shall we learn together?” or “Ooh this looks a bit tricky, shall we look for a hint on the internet?”.
It’s best to avoid comments like “I was never good at maths” or “maths is difficult” or “I hate maths” as these negative associations can easily be passed on to your child now and in the future so they take it with them through the rest of their lives.
Know where to look for support
Finally make sure you have a list of places you trust and can go to for support when you are stuck with a problem at home. Does your child’s school recommend a certain website that has help videos on? Can you find a maths teacher on youtube who explains topics in a way that your child likes?
A product like Eedi Family – the club where kids have fun learning maths – could be just what you’re looking for. Your child will get access to hundreds of unlimited, personalised maths Topic Reviews and Lessons to build maths confidence and ace their schoolwork. Even better? It’s aligned to the national curriculum and there are experienced tutors monitoring every session, so it’s just like real-life one-to-one tuition, at the click of a button.
You can even use the Topic Search function to speak to a tutor who will recommend the perfect lesson to help your child with their homework.
Eedi has a special offers for frolos where on top of the two week free trial you can have another month on top for half price. Just sign up via this link to claim the offer.
To find out more about Eedi visit their website and sign up for free. If you found this post useful, you may enjoy the free Maths Anxiety webinar for parents on Wednesday 12th May at 8pm. Book your place.