I did NOT Learn Math like This! How to Help with Homework without a PhD
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Homework Struggles are real - Episode 006
Going back to school as a parent doesn’t hold a candle to the ‘80s movies where an adult decides to go back to school (or goes to college for the first time) and has the time of their life. It can be more of a battle.
Going back to school with your child – mine are in second and fifth grades – means homework. And sometimes, that homework can be nearly impossible to figure out! Math makes me want to scream. And let me tell you, there are no toga parties and no high dives. Instead, it puts me back to when I was in school. It’s not hard to fall into the “There is no way I’m ever going to use this,” mindset.
Sure, teachers say you have to learn this stuff because you’ll use it later. Maybe not professionally. Maybe not academically. But, they were right. I had to retain those skills to be able to help my kids with their own homework.
Helping my kids with what I struggled with in school was NOT in any of the pregnancy or parenting books! Talk about frustrating. But, there are things you can do to make homework easier – for both you, and your child.
Before I get into that though, I want to offer a word about the Common Core.
Let’s Chat about Common Core
Let’s chat Common Core.
The Common Core is a series of standards, an outline of general concepts your child should know. It doesn’t say how the material is supposed to be taught. That comes from the curriculum, which doesn’t always come from the teachers. Before you blame the Common Core or the teacher, know that the Common Core is just telling you what your children are expected to know.
If we go to the Common Core website, let’s look at a second grade math standard. It reads “by the end of second grade, a student should able to fluently add and subtract two digit numbers within 20.” No fancy adding, not boxes or flames throwers, just add and subtract two digit numbers up to 20.
I’ve provided the link so you can explore it too!
Now, jumping back into how parents can help their children with homework, or reduce frustration levels:
Figure out the Source of Frustration
There are many different reasons for the frustration. In fifth grade, the subjects are harder, the math is more difficult. We had to multiply two three digit numbers. My daughter did it, and she was wrong. I did it wrong. I had her erase the problem and start over, and often, when you erase the numbers, you erase and it doesn’t go away, and you see it, and then it gets even more confusing.
I was thrown into the “I’m never going to get this” mindset. It’s amazing how easy it was to get back into that. But, I knew from the start that I’d walk into something frustrating, and I tried to keep a positive mindset.
When you go into a situation that you think will be stressful and frustrating, it’s natural to brace for that. The thing is, when you brace for high stress and frustration, you’re more likely to get more of that.
If you get frustrated, you need to know what you’re frustrated about, and why. That will help you to find the help you and your student need.
Consider the frustration too:
· Is the issue that you’re frustrated because you can’t explain what your child is struggling with?
· Is it that your child doesn’t understand the concept?
If you try to solve your child’s math problem or figure out how they’re being taught, you could drive yourself crazy.
Three Steps to Lessen Homework Stress
1. Admit defeat.
As adults, if a child is expected to learn a certain way that we adults haven’t been taught, sometimes we have to admit defeat. Be honest with your child, and explain that “I can only teach you the way I was taught.”
2. Reach out in need, not anger.
Before you email the teacher, consider what you hope to achieve with the email. Don’t email the teacher while you’re frustrated and full of anger. Don’t blame the teacher. Instead, consider that they may not have learned the content the way the curriculum is telling them they need to.
3. Plan with your teacher.
Find out what resources will be helpful for your student. Talk with your student too, to find out if the teacher uses resources in the classroom, like YouTube videos, for example. Your child’s teacher may be able to suggest more resources to help your child through their struggles. They may also tell you that the homework is more of a tool to help them see what they need to re-teach.
When you’re working with your child on a subject that you don’t understand, there will always be issues.
Always look at what your student is getting on their tests and quizzes. If their grades are strong, they’re obviously understanding the concepts. It may just be that when they’re bringing homework home, we’re no help.
The three steps outlined in this blog post and on my podcast can help you to find away to help your student succeed academically!
If you’ve found a solution to these frustrations, I want to learn from you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Defining the Common Core
How to define your homework frustrations
How to help with homework when you have no clue what it wants you to do.
Marni Pasch | Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching and host of School Counselor Gone Rogue
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.