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How can I help my child with his or her homework?

Many parents are uncomfortable helping their children with math homework. The parent may feel that his or her own proficiency is being tested, and may be nervous about appearing uncertain (let alone ignorant) in front of his child. Because of the discomfort, there is a tendency for the parent to overcompensate by solving the problem, telling the child the right answer and then explaining the solution. Frequently, this is not the best way to promote the child's learning. The first thing to remember is that this is your child's homework, not yours. ...more>>

Here are some ideas to try:

  1. Ask to see your child's class notes or class work. This may help you understand what the student is expected to know as well as what he or she is not. It is important to understand what is not expected, because you probably will not want to explore those areas. Let's say for example, your child is working on a geometry problem that would be easily solved using the Pythagorean theorem, but that method hasn't yet been discussed with your child. While using the Pythagorean theorem might be the easiest way for you to solve the problem, it will be less confusing for you to help your child using the method that he or she is currently studying.

  2. Have your child list what he or she knows about the problem. Sort through the information and figure out together what information would be useful in solving the problem and what information is not needed.

  3. Try organizing the information provided in the problem using one of the following strategies:

    1. Draw a diagram
    2. Make a list
    3. Eliminate possibilities
    4. Look for a pattern
    5. Guess and check
    6. Solve an easier, related problem
    7. Work backward

    For more information on the above methods of organizing information and other problem-solving strategies, check out Judy Campf's Searching for Solutions site.

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T2T discussions about homework:

Math homework
What purpose(s) does math homework achieve? How do we make math homework effective in helping students learn? I am interested in hearing different philosophies about the purpose of giving homework in math. ...view discussion>>

7th grade math
My daughter is 13 years old and in the 7th grade. This year has been very difficult for my wife and me, trying to help her.... Are there books or references that we can purchase that will enable us to read and learn what our daughter is doing? ...view discussion>>

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Ask Dr. Math resources:

The Dr. Math FAQ provides a page of links to resources on Why and How To Study Math. The FAQ also features information on math questions that have been frequently asked of the service.

The Ask Dr. Math archives are searchable, or you can browse topics at these levels:
      elementary school
      middle school
      high school

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Resources on the Web:

Families and the Web
Articles, books, and other resources for family Web excursions from the site, FromNowOn, published by Jamie McKenzie...more>>

Family Math - EQUALS, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA
A program to encourage underrepresented groups (especially girls and minority students) to enter careers that use mathematics. A Family Math course lasts approximately 6 weeks. ...more>>

Making Home and School Connections with Math Homework in a Bag - David A. Reid
Knowing that children's attitudes toward reading and their interest and curiosity about the world are greatly influenced by those closest to them, Reid has developed a program to encourage parental involvement in activities that connect mathematics carried ...more>>

Math Parent Handbook: A Guide to Helping Your Child Understand Mathematics - Patsy F. Kanter
Organized into sections such as Math in the Home; Mathland: The Grocery Store; and Math on the Go. Appendices include Parents and the Schools; What Should I Expect from a Math Program? and What We Can Do To Help Our Children Learn?...more>>

Math Solutions Online Newsletters
The Math Solutions Newsletter is produced by Marilyn Burns twice a year to provide up-to-date classroom activities and Math Solutions programs and materials. There are several great ideas here for parents to use with their children.

Solve It: Problem Solving Program - Moody, Defoe; University of Delaware
A middle grades mathematics problem-solving program. Students can work on interesting and challenging problems by responding to materials sent to them through the school year. The program provides an opportunity for students ...more>>


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