Helping your child with math

Tips even math-challenged parents can use

Not all of us are great at math, but adults understand that basic math skills are essential to everyday living. Kids who are struggling with math often feel defeated and can’t see any practical reasons for learning math. One major way parents can help is to try to instill a positive attitude towards math.

If you’re wondering how to relate math to everyday life so your child understands how important it is, here are some great examples that show how math is a life skill every person needs:

  • Finance and Budgeting. Math skills help with personal finances like budgeting, managing money, financial analysis, investments, mortgages, etc. Strong math skills can lead to higher earnings over time.
  • Everyday Decision Making. Day-to-day decisions like finding best deals, discounts and percentages, calculating tips, estimating costs and quantities – all rely on good math.
  • For many jobs and careers. Complex math, statistics, and analytical skills are used in sciences, engineering, economics, medical, technology, and business fields. Basic math is essential for most jobs.
  • Home improvement projects – being able to estimate, accurately measure, and calculate the right amount of things like building materials, paint, etc. is really helpful.
  • Cooking and following recipes – Understanding quantities, measuring ingredients properly, adjusting recipe sizes, and calculating cooking times.
  • Problem solving ability – The analytical and critical thinking skills developed in mathematics help frame and solve all kinds of complex problems.
  • Analytics and technology tasks – Managing data, building models, analyzing results to drive decisions and insight relies on strong math skills.

Besides just showing how essential it is to be proficient in math, here are some good ways parents can help a child who is struggling with math:

  • Play math games and do math puzzles occasionally to make it fun. There are many math games, apps, and books with a gaming angle.
  • If they are struggling with a concept, try using concrete objects and examples to demonstrate and allow hands-on learning. For example, use blocks when learning about fractions.
  • Work with them on math homework, going through it step-by-step and teaching the concepts. Resist the urge to give them the answers, instead help them reason their way through.
  • If you see them getting frustrated, approach the problem from a different angle or take a quick break so they stay motivated. Encourage them that steady practice will lead to progress.
  • Connect them to resources like online tutorials, tutoring, or math learning centers if available. Especially for higher level math, a tutor can provide expertise.
  • Talk to their math teacher so you understand where they are struggling. The teacher may be able to provide additional practice or custom re-teaching if needed.

Above all, be patient and encouraging. Overcoming math struggles takes time for most kids, but with consistent support they can get there. Praise their hard work and celebrate small wins.