Explorations In Math

Helping Your Children Learn Math

Setting a good example is one of the most effective ways you can help your child develop positive math attitudes and behaviors.  Below are some strategies you can focus on at home that help children see that math is relevant to all parts of their lives, not just school work.

  1. Math is everywhere, yet many children don’t see it.  Look for ways to point out math in your life.  For example:
    • talk about how you use math at work and home
    • look for activities that require children to use math skills such as model building, cooking, planning trips
    • point out math skills in games you play together
  2. When you see articles that have data that may be interesting to your children (sports statistics, weather data, facts about natural disasters), share them and talk about what the numbers mean and how they were calculated.
  3. Invite your children to explain what was learned in math class or have them teach it to you.  Instead of “What did you learn in math today” say “Show me what you learned in math today”.  This helps children solidify the skill in their own mind and practice using mathematical language.
  4. Share your problem-solving strategies and techniques.  Work on the same problem separately and then compare your solution strategies.  Encourage multiple strategy thinking for problems.

Homework Help

A parents goal in homework monitoring should be to assist children in figuring out as much as they can for themselves.  You can help by asking questions that guide without telling what to do.  A good question opens up a problem and supports different ways to think about it.  Here are some good questions you might try.  Notice that very few of them can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

Getting Started

What is the question asking for?

Where can you begin?

What terms do you understand or not understand?

What do you need to know?

While Working

How can you organize the information? Drawings? Charts?

Describe the strategy you can use to solve this?

What do you need to do next?

Why do you think that?

Do you see any patterns or relationships that might help you find the solution?

Can you make a prediction about the outcome?

Reflecting on the Solution

Has the question been answered?

Does that always work?

Tell me more about how you came up with this answer.

What would happen if….?

Can you show me a way to prove your answer is reasonable?

Is there another strategy that would work?

Can you give me another example of ….?


Problem Solving Steps:

Sometimes students need a reminder of the steps to take when solving a math problem.  You must first Understand what the problem is asking for and decide on a Plan to work it.  After you Solve the problem, you should be able to Explain how you did it and Justify why your solution is reasonable.  Remember……

Understand > Plan > Solve > Explain > Justify


Problem Solving Tools:

use a ruler

measuring tape

make a chart

calculator to check

draw a picture

work backwards

look for a pattern

write an equation

use a number line or hundreds chart