Math. It’s necessary, requires higher thought processes, and can be completely intimidating for elementary school-aged kids. If you have the right approach, attitude and mindset as a parent, you can help your child gain not only an understanding and appreciation for math, but perhaps even a fondness. In any case, supplementing your child’s education is crucial to help them feel at ease with abstract math concepts. Here are 8 super helpful tips to help your 9-11 year old with math concepts and learning.
1. Always consider the individual.
All kids learn best in different ways — be it visually, orally, verbally, physically, etc. You can find out more information about each different category at Learning Styles Online. Keep your specific child in mind when considering your approach and remember to tailor their supplemental learning. By this age, a “one size fits all” mentality towards education could hinder your child rather than help them.
Kids have started approaching schoolwork in a more individual way at this point in their development. Worksheets (many which can be found online) might work best for a logical or solitary learner, while active games involving kinesthetics and math concepts would work better for a physical learner.
If you need some help identifying the best ways to teach your child, you can take a “multiple intelligences” quiz online and answer the questions as if you were your child. The following quiz from Edutopia breaks down learning styles into percentages and offers specific information for each style: Multiple Intelligences Learning Styles Quiz.
Also keep in mind your child’s interests and try to fit their math education accordingly. If they love cars, for instance, use games, activities and story problems involving cars. If they love animals, use this as a theme for supplemental materials.
2. Do it together.
Chances are your child will be more appreciative of a unified learning approach, so do math together! Sitting your child down at the computer to play games all by himself won’t have the same impact as learning together and discussing the concepts as you go. So whatever the learning style, whatever the activity, be present. If you find that you yourself are unfamiliar with a concept, look it up together and figure it out. Oxford Owls Jargon Buster is a good place to start if you need help refreshing your memory about math terms.
3. Use a variety of tools, resources and methods.
Even if you’ve recognized your child’s preferred learning style, using the same method or activity repeatedly can cause boredom and disinterest — the exact opposite of our supplemental learning goals. No matter how much your child loves timed tests or flashcards or dominoes, they’ll still appreciate a little variety. Some ideas you can do with the whole family (even older or younger siblings), include: planning and budgeting for family outings, baking, planning a schedule, gardening, crafts that involve measuring and cutting shapes, weighing items, grocery shopping, charting growth with tables and graphs, online math games, video games, iPhone or iPad apps and board games.
4. Focus on key concepts appropriate for age and grade.
Not sure what they are? Email your child’s teacher and ask! Talk with other teachers and parents you know. Here’s a short list for kids ages 9-11 year-olds: telling time (including adding and subtracting times), measurements (inches, yards, feet, miles, grams, pounds, etc. and converting between metric and imperial measurements), calculating with larger or more complex numbers (including up to three digits, decimals, percentages and fractions), understanding shapes (including 3-dimensional shapes and angles), and using different types of charts, tables and graphs.
5. Watch your own attitude.
If you don’t approach supplemental education as a chore to be completed, neither will your kids! Your attitude, more than anything else, shows them what their attitude should be. Keep your comments, actions and reactions to math homework and any math activities you plan positive. If your child doesn’t respond positively to a certain planned activity, take it in stride. Don’t force it, but do come back to it later. Say something like: “It’s ok. We don’t have to do this now. Would you rather help me cut out some shapes for a project I’m working on?” or something similar. Wait a few days before trying again. Whatever you do, don’t give up! And don’t make it “work” but rather “math fun time” or “project time” — something your child can relate to and have desire to do.
6. Make it fun!
It’ll be easier to accomplish tip number five if you’re focusing on making your supplemental activities fun for your child. Play games. Read fun math books. Laugh while you learn.
7. Establish math as regular and routine.
How many times did you ask “When am I ever going to use this in my life?” when you were in a math class? Show your kids that math is a regular, everyday occurrence. You can do this by not only having some type of supplemental activity every day (and it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out activity – simple is better!), but also by pointing out instances when your child is using math skills when they may not even notice, such as when they are paying someone at the store and counting out money or when they are figuring out how many hours until bedtime.
8. Include the teacher.
Whoever that might be — if they’re home-schooled, this is an easy one, just be sure to include your spouse! Email the teacher for more information about what your child is learning. Ask the teacher for extra worksheets or ideas for activities. Use the teacher as a sounding board if you’re having issues approaching math with your child. He or she might have lots of ideas for engaging students that you haven’t thought of. Your child’s teacher could also have access to or ideas about resources, books, websites, math nights, etc. that they can share with you. If you’re a homeschooling parent, connect with other homeschooling parents for ideas.
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com