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Easy Things You Can Do to Make Sure any Support for Math You Provide at Home

1. Know Your Subject

You can’t provide help for math to your little primary student if you don’t know exactly what they need to learn about the particular topic area you’re supporting them in.

For example, if Little Johnny comes to you and asks for help in his long division homework, it pays to know a few things about the principles of basic division, how it relates to multiplication, and where Little Johnny will use the skills of long division in other math topics in the future.

You can find a basic overview of your child’s primary math curriculum in a few places.

First, have a look in their math text books or subject outlines if they have one. Some school websites also provide syllabus support documention on their websites for parents, which will outline the scope and sequence of your child’s classroom math program. Or, for a detailed overview of state- or federal-based curriculums in your area, do an online search for the primary mathematics documentation from the relevant educatino department or association. Most will have online guides for parents that detail exactly what school children should be learning at what age, and what order they should be learning it.

Just have a quick look at the particular topic your child is struggling with and assess where abouts in this topic they are up to in the classroom. This alone will tell you what skills they should already have in the area, and what you need to remind them about in helping them with the problem at hand.

2. Know Your Student.

Parents who are wanting to provide help for math at home have a distinct advantage in this important step — and that’s that they already know the student very well indeed!

It’s a well-known fact that teachers who know their students (including how they best learn, what engages them, and what motivates them to learn more) are far more effective than those who don’t teach specifically to the student’s needs. In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges many classroom teachers face!

So, what exactly do you need to take into account about your child’s personality when trying to provide help for math?

Primarily, you need to know how they learn.

Most kids will learn best by DOING. That is, by making, creating, moving and touching objects. By actually writing. By reading. And by experiencing their new knowledge in their own worlds.

On top of this, consider whether your child likes particular subjects or topics. Can you use this in the learning you do at home together? (For example, if your child loves Holdens, find a car magazine and read some of the articles about their favourite make or model. Then introduce this new ‘fun’ knowledge you’ve discovered together to work on a maths concept, like adding or subtracting, or dividing… ‘If we have ten Holden fans at a racecourse and 30 free Holden stickers to give away, how many will each person get?’).

If they like the outdoors, find a way to learn about numeracy concepts on a bushwalk, at the beach, or in a park. Geocaching is a great way to spend time together while also working on your child’s map-reading and numeracy at the same time. And they’ll never know!

Think about whether your child is an aural, visual, kinesthetic (touching) or by reading and writing. Do they learn best by listening to people explain things, reading about it themselves, looking at something and observing a process, or by copying and doing it directly? You can find more information about how to decide this by googling ‘VARK’ and reading up on how to assess a child’s learning style. Once you have an idea about how they learn, try and adapt your style of teaching and the activities you do together to the way they most enjoy learning.