The concern for how to improve math skills often starts with a report card gone wrong. Of course you want help your child get good grades and feel successful in their studies. Many kids struggle with math, which can be very frustrating for them. Let’s face it, even as grown ups we still have trouble with math sometimes. The good news is that there are some easy ways you can help your child to improve their math skills so they can feel more confident.
How to Improve Math Skills
1. Start With Study Skills
It is important to make sure your child is starting with good study skills. Even if your child is only struggling in math, they may need help with their study skills. Often it is the difficult subjects that expose poor study skills and sloppy work that may have been allowed to go unchecked. Try to get to the root of the problem. Do they have an agenda where they are successfully keeping track of their homework assignments and their upcoming tests? Are they beginning their math homework early enough when they get home that they aren’t tired and distracted?
2. Use Resources
This is one of the most important tips for how to improve math skills. When your child needs help understanding how to do a math problem, do they know how to consult their textbook? Are they able to refer to their notes and are the notes they are taking good quality? Are there other resources available to them? Recently I asked one of my son’s teachers what he could refer to since they were not using the textbook for the subject he was covering. Come to find out the teacher puts his power points online for student reference and my son had no idea!
3. Show Your Work
As you do each math problem, always show your work. Math gets harder and involves more steps as you progress. Showing the work in the beginning will help you transition smoothly when there are lots of steps involved. Showing your steps can often help you complete the steps in more systematic way. Additionally, if you make a mistake, you can often receive partial credit.
4. Talk To The Teacher
If your child is doing the work but still doesn’t make good grades, it is probably time to have a parent-teacher conference and get their perspective about what the problem is. Ask how your child is doing, ask for tips to help your child, ask for recommendations for a tutor, and ask for resources like websites and worksheets that can help you to help your child at home. Ask if the teacher is available in the morning or afternoon for help sessions. Talking to the teacher is often very enlightening as they usually have a good read of exactly where the problem lies. Addressing the root of the difficulties is often the most effective way for how to improve math skills.
5. Make Use Of Math Tutorials Online
There are numerous websites, like Kahn Academy, that offer free resources, videos, and lessons to help your child. Their videos even offer problems that need to be solved at the end so your child can put what they just learned to use. My daughter who is a freshman and never likes to ask for help, told me “Kahn Academy can be a real life saver!”
Another great option is YouTube. There are several great channels for teaching math skills for every grade level. You’re sure to find one that your child will engage with.
6. Use Real World Math
This tip for how to improve math skills generally works best younger kids but can be sometimes be useful for older kids as well. Help your child by putting what they learn into real world use. At the grocery store, ask them to add up a few prices on items in your cart and tell you how much it’s going to be. See if they can figure out which product is priced better per unit. Ask them to figure out how many of something you’ll need to cover a designated area. Have them estimate how many gallons of gas you’ll need to fill up. Let them figure out how many more miles left for a car trip.
One of the best ways to help your child learn fractions is by getting them in the kitchen to bake. Not only do they have to measure in fractions, but if they need to half or double a recipe, they’ll have to figure out how much more or less of an ingredient they’ll need. It will become more real to them how to do it and why it is important.
7. Let Them Play Video Games
What? Yes, I know that sounded funny but video games can actually be a useful tool for how to improve math skills. There are numerous video games and apps for your device that teach math skills through math games. Your child will be engaged and having fun while learning important skills. They’ll enjoy themselves so much, they’ll actually ask to learn.
8. Get A Math Tutor
Sometimes a subject can be a little tricky. I remember that I was a good math student in high school but there was a time a struggled for a bit. My mom got me a math tutor while I worked through that challenging phase. I didn’t have to have one long term but the tutor was able to help me get back on track before the problem compounded since math generally builds on itself.
Remind your child that you are proud of the effort they are putting into their math studies. Though they may be tempted to write off math with a statement like, “Math is stupid!”, it is important to remind them that math actually has use in everyday life both at home and in possible future careers. Furthermore, the process of learning math is developing their analytical skills and teaching them to put forth effort to achieve their goals.
I like this inspirational math quote from The Times Of India, “Certain qualities that are nurtured by mathematics are power of reasoning, creativity, abstract or spatial thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving ability and even effective communication skills.”
Staying on top of your child’s skill level and what they need allows you to know the best way to help them. Keep in touch with their math teacher for insight into what is happening in the classroom. If your child implements these tips for how to improve math skills, they’ll start to improve math scores and confidence right before your eyes. Which of these tips were most useful to your child?