How to Improve a Child’s Math Skills: Advice for Parents and Teachers

Classroom and math teachers are often quizzed by parents about math skills development. Parents usually want to know: (a) what is happening with their child’s math learning and (b) how their child can improve test scores. Here are some tips on how you should respond.

Math Can be Really Important to a Future Career

First of all, take the issue of a child’s math skills very seriously. Parents who want the best for their child in math development feel that way with good reason.

Math is more critical in today’s world than at any other time in history. In a technology age, the same skills that make one successful in the math classroom can convert to success with computers and related technologies.

Mathematics and technology skills continue to find their way into everything from engineering to business and the medical field. It is unsurprising that employers and university boards are putting a premium on attracting candidates with these abilities.

The brain is like a muscle that gets stronger the more it’s worked out, and doing math is like going to the gym for your brain. It actually sharpens your brain and makes you smarter.

Danica McKellar

Advice for Parents

So what’s a parent to do when their child experiences struggles in math? First, avoid the temptation to play the blame game. Instead, assess what resources are at your disposal to address the situation.

Unless you have a good reason to feel your child is neglecting their studies or to believe that the teacher has created a hostile learning environment, it won’t be helpful to go on the offensive. You’ll just create distance between yourself and your child or their teacher or both.

Start by checking in with the teacher to see if they can give you any insight into what kinds of problems your child is experiencing. They might have suggestions on how your child can study better or alert you to some problems your child is having with their in-class routine that you don’t even know about.

Ask the teacher if the school offers a peer tutoring program or a before or after school extra needs program. Sometimes, local colleges and universities have programs where math education students tutor K-12 students at no charge.

Children Can Benefit from Extra Non-School Support

As a teacher, be prepared to encourage parents to look to do more outside of school. Within school hours, and with other subjects to be taught, there’s only so much that can be done. Outside of school hours, more flexibility exists.

If a parents decides their child could benefit from additional support, a variety of professional tutoring options are available. Most urban areas have many professional independent tutors. If you prefer a “trusted name,” Kaplan, Sylvan, and Kumon all offer math tutoring and are in most mid-sized and larger cities.

In-person one-on-one options can get expensive however. Online tutoring is another great possibility if a parent is looking for intensive tutoring while trying to keep costs to a minimum.

Many times, a parent can purchase a month of online tutoring for the same or less cost as an hour of private tutoring. Online programs such as K5 Learning are good for K-5 math skill development and can help build core skills for students of all ages.

Tutoring Benefits are Achievable with Time

Whatever choice a parent makes, the most important factor is usually time. Almost all children are capable of learning mathematics, and learning it at an exceptional level.

The more time a child spends working with their tutor on math, the more you will see improvement. Keep parental expectations in check at first. It takes an investment of time for a tutoring program to be effective.

You can’t expect a “C” to become an “A” in just a few days. Give children at least 2 or 3 quizzes or tests to see some improvement. But it reasonable to expect to start to see results in a few weeks.

If no improvement eventuate, a parent might need to reevaluate the tutoring service or online program to see if a different approach is needed. A parent and child may need to try something altogether different.

General Advice from a Teacher to a Parent

To summarize, if things get discouraging for your son or daughter in math, don’t fret. There are many tutoring options out there to help improve their grade.

Talk to teachers and seek out assistance. But, above all, stay encouraging. You and your son or daughter will be rewarded not only with a better mathematics grade but with the possibilities of a better future that comes with those grades.