Robert Bernstein, owner of Mathnasium of Bay Ridge, shares what parents can do to help their child who is struggling with math overcome their homework frustration.
Parents need to be realistic regarding the true capabilities of their student in math. Often times school grades are inflated, which can be demonstrated when a student gets a high grade on their report card but then a much lower score on the year-end standardized test.
Parents can do the following to ensure their student is on track:
- Meet with teachers by attending parent-teacher conferences or setting up individual meetings to discuss your child’s struggles.
- Make sure your student is completing their homework and spending an appropriate amount of time doing it—rushing homework to 'get it over with' is not appropriate.
- Talk to your child and see how they feel about their school, their teacher, and their math program. Be encouraging and not critical, as it will only deflate your child. Set reasonable but good expectations. A student will only rise to the level of their parent’s expectation. If you tell them a 70 or a C is acceptable, don't expect better.
- Evaluate your child for anxiety, ability to focus, and other behavioral issues. If you see a problem seek professional guidance.
- Some students may have special needs and may need an Individualized Education Plan. Don't be afraid to have your child evaluated.
- It is never too late to start to 'catch up', but the earlier the better. The summer is a great time to catch up, keep up and get ahead. Students who do not participate in academics during the summer usually regress.
- If you can assist your student or have an older or more advanced sibling help your struggling child, you should do so. Simple things such as drilling multiplication tables, playing games that strengthen math skills, and homework review goes a long way.
- Children like things they are good at. The better they get at math the more they will like it. It is important to not let a child develop a 'fear' of math or label him- or herself as a 'bad math person’. Do not let your student know that you are not a 'math person’ or hate math. That will give them an excuse to be less willing to help themselves.
- Getting pushed along to the next grade in math when they are not ready for it will only regenerate problems and feelings of failure. A strong foundation is critical to building math skills. Repeating a class may be necessary but better than moving on and getting further behind in the subject.
- Don't blame yourself. There could me many reasons why a student is struggling. An illness at a critical time, a poor teacher along the way, emotional issues, or moving to a new school are just some of the reasons why a student can get off track.
- Don't derail your child by telling them math is not important, that they won't ever use this in real life, or that you were never good at math but manage to get through math problems now.
- Remember: Be encouraging. Spend time with your child, analyze her objectively, set reasonable but high expectations, and get her help if needed. These are some of the best ways to help your child succeed.
Robert Bernstein, also known as Mr. B, is the owner of Mathnasium of Bay Ridge, and is Mathnasium Master certified. Mathnasium is a math-only learning center that helps students in kindergarten through 12th grades understand math by teaching it the way that it makes sense to them. Mathnasium provides a true assessment report of your student’s math level, and builds a learning plan based on their weaknesses.