7 Steps to Successful Math Students (& Parents) April 30, 2015 05:00

Boys with backpacks1. Overcome math anxiety
Some parents and students hear the word math and cringe. But often they forget how much math they already use each day. One way to help students overcome math anxiety is to focus on their interests. If a child enjoys playing with trucks, count them as they are taken off the shelf or put away. Ask, "If your friend brings over five more trucks, how many will you have to play with?"

A child saving for a special toy can calculate how much more money he needs to save to buy the toy. You can ask, "If grandma gives you $2.00 will you have enough to buy it?" or "I have a coupon for 20% off. If we use the coupon, how much will you need to save?" Older students can calculate tax for the purchase or a 10% 15% or 20% tip for the waiter at a restaurant.

Try pointing out math concepts as they occur in daily life. Use math vocabulary as you cut a pie into 10 pieces: "If I give dad 2/10 of this pie, how many pieces will he get?" Go shopping together and compare prices per ounce, visit a bank and explain interest rates, talk about credit and debt, double and divide recipes, plan a menu on a budget, figure out mpg when getting gas, calculate travel times and distances, compare temperature highs and lows, etc. Stress how important math is in your own life. Researchers suggest additional ways of dealing with math anxiety, including having students write about it before they have to actually begin doing math. Read more at upi.com/ScienceNews.

2. Help students learn basic math facts
Students can become discouraged with math when they don't know basic facts. Give them opportunities to practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Having solid basic skills gives them a strong foundation for more difficult math concepts. It also builds confidence.  

Remind your student to study each night or practice and review math concepts if math homework was not assigned. Be available for questions, but don't hover. If your student becomes overwhelmed when facing lots of problems on one page, cover the remaining problems with a piece of paper so only one or two problems show at a time. 

Excel Math Student Lesson Sheets and Homework pages are designed in blocks or frames so they can easily be folded into quarters or even smaller, more manageable sections. Students can focus on just one or two problems at a time instead of becoming overloaded and stressed about 20 problems on the page.

4. Encourage students to work independently
Don't do the work for your student.  Have them mark a calendar to show when tests and projects are due. Feel free to give them a gentle reminder about upcoming deadlines. Help them download apps for their ipad or computer so they can practice independently. If they are not doing math homework, encourage them to practice the concepts from the previous day. Your student's math lessons will have review questions and may have online practice links. Here are a few fun websites with practice games for math:
BBC Maths
Cyberchase | PBS Kids FunBrain.com
Math Playground

5. Offer help when students need it
Give them a chance to find the solution themselves. Help your student identify the steps needed to solve the problem. Then explain the concept and vocabulary words, if they need clarification. Help your student define new terms. Download a Glossary of Math Terms here. Check the work and have your student revise it if you find errors. If your student needs tutoring help, have a classmate come over for a homework session or pay an older student to provide tutoring. Some neighborhood clubs and churches offer free tutoring after school. Check with your child's teacher for additional resources and suggestions. Teachers often offer help during office hours or lunch.
6. Help them master mental math
Provide practice times while in the car or waiting in line so they feel comfortable doing math in their heads. Let your student try timed basic fact practice at www.excelmath.com/practice. Have them create and use flashcards with a timer. Then have them try again to see if they can beat their best time.

7. Tackle tough problems together
Have your student do the example first as a reminder of how to solve the problem. Change word problems to reflect your child's interests. Have your student circle the numbers mentioned in the problem and cross out information that's not needed. Let him draw a picture, diagram or chart to help describe the problem. Break down harder problems into sections that are easier for the student to answer correctly. Download a free Excel Math Parent Guide to 5th Grade Math. Use physical objects to help them visualize the problem. Make sure they understand the vocabulary words. Through it all, be supportive, but don't do the work yourself. The more you can equip your student and encourage basic fact practice and foundational math concepts, the more confident and successful the student will become!

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