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common-core-iconI teach students who fall far below grade level in math and parents tell me all the time how impossible Common Core Math concepts are. They don’t even get it, so how can they help their children? But math itself doesn’t change–the way we look at it does. If you want to help your children with math, you might find the answer more simple than you think.

8 Tips for Conquering Common Core Math at Home

  1. Ask your child what he or she learned every day and ask for an example. If your child has trouble remembering examples, pull out the notes and look for examples together.
  2. Even when your child struggles with a concept, make it your mission to cheer him or her on. I always tell my child, “We never give up! You can do this!” Make sure your child knows that you believe in him/her. That means a lot.
  3. When talking about rates or proportional reasoning, have your child calculate sales tax when you go out shopping. Making real life connections makes the math real and relevant for your child. Compare the calculations against the receipt. You can do the same thing when you go out to eat by calculating the tax and the tip.
  4. Help your child build fluency with math facts by practicing them frequently. Build of stack of cards that your child already knows and a stack of cards that your child still needs to work on, and work on decreasing time needed to work on the stack. Always encourage when working on fluency. You can do this when working on multiplication, subtraction facts, or when working on integers.
  5. Use objects at home to demonstrate dividing things up into fractional pieces. 4 pieces to talk about fourths (1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4), 5 pieces to talk about fifths (1/5, 2/5, etc.), and so on. You can add and take away as needed to demonstrate addition and subtraction of fractions. If push comes to shove, you can cut up pieces of paper into fraction strips to demonstrate the concept. Finding equivalent fractions using homemade fraction strips? You can do that, too.
  6. Use websites like Khan Academy to research how to do the things you have no idea how to do so that you can help your child at home. Khan Academy has tutorial videos, examples, and hints to help you solve problems on all different grade levels of math. I strongly recommend it.
  7. Talk to your child’s teacher for extra strategies. See what she’s got up her sleeve to help you out. I know most teachers love parents who want to help their children at home.
  8. Link up with other parents of children in your child’s class. Maybe you can help each other. There’s nothing like a parent support group to get things rolling.

You can make this whole Common Core thing work. Just use your instincts. Common Core Math is mostly about application of skills, so the biggest tip I can give as a teacher is just to make sure you get your child to take those skills and use them at the store, when making recipes (fractions!), etc., so that they get comfortable with the math. Make it concrete and relevant and fun as much as possible. The rest should take care of itself.

Teresa Cooper is a 30-something divorced mom and teacher from North Carolina. She has a Masters of...

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