Ah, math. Chances are your child either loves it or hates it. Both scenarios pose a challenge for the average school environment.
Teachers today are mandated to cover very specific material within very specific timeframes. Within a classroom of 15 or more children, it can be easy to miss the child that doesn’t completely understand a given concept and even easier not to notice the child that’s whizzing through the material and is eager to learn more.
Left unchecked for too long, the former child winds up lost (and demoralized) as the rest of the class moves on to more complicated concepts that rely on having understood what was taught earlier. The latter child begins to lose that spark of curiosity, that genuine interest, and feels bored and disenchanted.
Now more than ever, it’s important for parents to play an active role in their child’s education. Thank goodness, it’s also easier than ever to do so.
One way to help a child who’s struggling with math or excite a child who has the potential to excel in math is to supplement their curriculum at home. Here are three specific tools you can use to do just that.
Khanacademy.org is a free, online learning environment for students of all ages. Subjects covered range from science and programming to history and economics. It is its math resources that are, perhaps, the strongest.
Parents can track students’ progress as they work their way from kindergarten mathematics through calculus, enjoying digital rewards along the way. The video instructions are done extremely well and specific topics can be easily searched.
A few minutes a day or small engagements each week with Khan Academy can hone in on challenge areas, boost confidence, and allow high achievers to shoot for the stars.
Popular among homeschool families, Math U See is a full math curriculum, beginning with basically counting concepts and working up and through calculus. It combines video instruction, colorful manipulatives, and student workbooks. Students can work through the material at their own pace, which uniquely encourages the mastery of fundamental concepts before moving onto more complex operations.
Math-U-See is a great option for parents wishing to supplement their child’s education because the lessons are very short and the material self-paced. It’s especially good for children who learn best when concepts are presented visually.
The simplest idea of all is recognizing that math is everywhere; challenge your children to engage with it more frequently in everyday life. Put them in charge of the grocery budget for the week. Tell them to double the recipe the next time you’re baking something. Have them map out and calculate how long it’ll take to get to Grandma’s house (without asking Siri).
The more enjoyable it is for your children to engage with math, the more you’ll help take the mystery out of it. You’ll allow them to see the many ways math is useful to learn and understand, and with the extra practice, they will naturally grow in their ease with it or enlighten to more creative ways to use it themselves.