Math Homework Tips
Make homework time a multi-sensory/ kinaesthetic experience and enhance your child's learning! Find some of our top tips below!
1. Less Is More: It is often more beneficial for your child to do a few math practice questions each night rather than an entire page all at once. Why? Children are more apt to remember the skills they are learning and using if they practice them everyday for short periods of time.
2. Power of Positivity: Everyone likes to know that they are doing well and your child is no different. For example: every time your child attempts a new math skill, tries their best, understands new math concepts, works on their homework etc., praise them for their efforts. By doing this, you are building confidence in your child. Confidence is key because once they believe in their math abilities they will be more willing to learn new mathematical concepts.
3. Brain Breaks: Do a few math questions (i.e. 1-5) and then play a round of a short game before resuming another round of math questions. For example: play one round of your favourite card game/board game (Go Fish, Uno, Crazy Eights, Jenga, Sorry etc.). Each time your child answers X amount of questions (written or orally), play a round of the game together, and then continue in this pattern. This allows more time spent on math because your child is having fun while learning.
4. Movement Breaks: If your child has a hard time sitting still for short or long periods of time then get them up and moving while doing math questions or in between rounds of math questions. This can be as short as letting them get up and move, grab a drink, do a chore etc. If your child needs a longer break (i.e. 30 seconds to 2 minutes) they can play darts, skip rope, do jumping jacks, play catch, or bounce a ball while memorizing so they are moving to really stimulate the brain. Watch the video below as an example of how you can get your child moving while doing math!
<- You could have flash cards or various math problems in each of the hoops.
<- Race to get a line.
<- To win the game, your child must solve each question in their line.
* Alternative: You can solve a hoop each round to get a line OR you can race to get a line and then solve questions.
* Remember: moving while learning can help your child retain information!
5. Household Games: Take any opportunity to do some math while doing daily household activities. For example: when cooking you can talk about fractions (with measuring cups); when putting your child to bed they could count their teddy bears; when putting toys away they can count them, sort them, add or subtract toys from sorted groups; create a list and budget for grocery shopping; talk about money while shopping and let your child pay; clean out your wallet and count/ identify coins /values; create a schedule while talking about the calendar/clock etc. When parents expose their children to all of these concepts at an early age it increase their math sense.
6. Change Locations During Homework: Homework doesn't always have to be done at the table. It might start there to complete a math sheet, but practising their times tables etc. may happen in the car, on a walk, while playing a game, or have fun with magnetic numbers on the fridge. Changing locations keeps things interesting.
7. Driving Review: Parents are busy so it's important to make every minute count! When you are driving you can ask your child a variety of math review questions (i.e. counting backwards/forwards-by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s etc; addition/ subtraction/ multiplication/ division facts or questions; names of coins; 2D and 3D shapes etc). There are also a wide variety of resources available (books, music, videos etc.) that your child can enjoy while learning at the same time.
8. Make Learning Relevant: Ask your child what they are learning about in Math (check for understanding); ask them why these math skills are important to learn (brainstorming); and ask them how they can use these math skills in their lives (making connections). They may not know the answers to these questions, so take the opportunity to explain to them the importance of what they are learning.
9. Encourage Children to Use Their Team (eyes, mouth, and hands): Quite often parents tell their children to be still or quiet during homework time (i.e to read quietly to themselves or to quit talking or thinking aloud. For example if siblings are doing their homework in the same space you may be trying to limit distractions, but it may be hampering that particular child's learning. Many children learn better when able to talk or think aloud during work time. Parents often want their children to stop using their fingers when solving math problems. When parents try to prevent them from doing this too early in their mathematical development, they are taking away an essential learning channel before they are ready. Students will stop using their fingers when they don't need them anymore.
10. Fidgets: While some children are distracted by fidgeting, others find it calming. Fidgets can allow some students to get excess energy out. There are a variety of different kinds of fidgets: hand fidgets, pencil fidgets, squishy toys, stress balls, oral fidgets (necklaces or braclets that are safe to chew on), wiggle cushions, ball chairs, stretchy bands tied to a table or desk, lap weights etc. When this energy can get out, it leaves their brains free for important tasks such as learning.
11. Turning Homework Into Games/Challenges: Timers can motivate some children, but not all! Parents need to know their child. For example: try and get the task done in five minutes. See if they can beat their time!
12. What to AVOID: When helping your child with their math homework avoid saying things like: "This math concept/homework is hard for you because it was hard for me when I was in school." By saying this, your child will automatically feel less confident in their abilities and they may believe that they will struggle with certain math skills because you did when you were their age. Intead, say things like: "Math is about finding the strategy that works for you--let's find one to help you solve these questions" OR "You are very good at problem solving so let's use your skills to figure this question out" OR "Always remember that the more you practice these math skills the easier the skills will become."
Most importantly, have fun with homework!