Parents always want what is best for their children, and they want to encourage their children to strive for excellence, never give up, and be the best version of themselves that they can be. So when a parent learns that their child is struggling in school is can be heartbreaking. Many parents want to help their child, but just don’t know where to start. This especially seems to be the case as children enter the higher-grade levels, and the curriculum is just as confusing to parents as it is to the student. If you’re not sure where to start, try some of these useful tips to help your frustrated child feel empowered and encouraged to push through:
Encourage them to read more: Even if they are great readers and are struggling with math or science, being an avid reader helps to develop critical thinking skills, helps them to think outside of the box, and exposes them to language and vocabulary that is new. Whether they are reading their textbooks or reading for pleasure, improving upon their reading and comprehension skills can only benefit them in other areas of their lives, including academics.
Connect With Their Teachers: You are your child’s voice, their advocate. If they aren’t getting what they need in the classroom, it is your responsibility to make sure they get it. Maybe your child can’t see the board, but is too shy to ask the teacher to move closer to the board. Maybe a language barrier is making it hard for your child to understand the teacher, or to be understood when asking a question. Don’t worry about bothering or annoying the teacher. If you are reaching out with good intentions, aren’t blaming the teacher, are willing to listen and willing to work together, the teacher should be happy to connect with you to find the best solution for the student.
Google It: If your child is coming to you with questions about math curriculum and you don’t know the answer, use the Internet, and don’t be ashamed of it. Using what you have available to you to solve a problem is a great life skill. Showing your child that is okay not to have all of the answers, and it is empowering to find the answers on your own. We all know that everything on the Internet is not always accurate, so use this as a teachable moment and explain the difference between reliable and non-reliable sources. A quick search on YouTube for “how to divide fractions” may be just what you need to see and hear to help refresh your memory and help explain it to your child.
Parents can also use the Internet to search for fun and creative ideas to help their child form a better understanding of the subject they are struggling with. There are hundreds of online math games, math apps, and crafty things to make (Hello Pinterest!) that can make learning a little more fun and a little less stressful. Parents should try to remember the subjects they struggled with in school, and try to be mindful of the emotional and mental toll it can take to be frustrated and confused in school.
In many ways, older children begin to crave independence and freedom, and want to do and try things on their own. It is important not to step on their toes and allow them to make mistakes, while also reminding them that it is you AND them on a team, not you vs. them. When a child knows they are free to make mistakes and aren’t worried that their parents will embarrass or belittle them, they are more likely to come and ask for help when they need it. And when they ask, you’ll have a few starting points to begin with in the journey to a better mathematical understanding.