Quick tips for helping kids with math homework
- Quick tip 1Acknowledge feelings and effort.Acknowledge feelings and effort.
Not understanding what to do can be stressful. Take a moment to acknowledge that, and praise the effort. For example, “I’m proud that you know what the homework is and brought home the right materials.”
- Quick tip 2Find an example math problem.Find an example math problem.
Find a similar math problem that’s been solved. This could be a problem from class or a sample problem from a textbook that includes the answer. You can also look for examples online by searching for terms from the assignment.
- Quick tip 3Help kids jog their memory.Help kids jog their memory.
Look at the example problem and its solution together. Then ask, “How did the teacher say to do the problem?” Having a completed example in front of them can help kids remember directions from class.
- Quick tip 4Take notes on the process.Take notes on the process.
Work through the first problem together and make notes on each step. This reminds kids that math is a process. They can use these notes to show teachers their efforts and get feedback on how they solved the problem.
- Quick tip 5Say it’s OK.Say it’s OK.
Doing tricky math takes practice. Say that it’s OK to not know the answers every time. And if you’ve ever struggled with math, be open about that. It helps kids know they’re not the only ones who struggle.
Math homework can be tricky for lots of kids. And sometimes the adults helping kids aren’t sure how to help — or how to do the math problem themselves.
When kids have trouble with math homework, the most important thing is to not dwell on it for too long. A good rule is to not spend more than 10 to 20 minutes working through math homework that kids are unsure of. Spending more time than this can be frustrating for everyone — without providing many benefits.
Here are other things to avoid when kids ask for help with math homework:
- Try not to contact the teacher right away. Kids might give up easily if they’re not sure what to do. But it’s important for them to think of ways to approach the problem. That way they can share their process with the teacher for feedback.
- Don't write a note that just says they didn’t understand it. Instead, be specific about what kids are having trouble with, like adding fractions. This information helps you and the teacher find the “missing piece.”
Having trouble with math homework doesn’t always mean kids have trouble with math in general. Keeping track of what you see can help you figure out what’s going on and the best way to help.