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What to Do When Your Child's Homework Stumps You

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Let's face it, when you graduated from high school or college, the last thing you ever hoped to have to do again was explain the difference between an isosceles and an obtuse triangle or find the circumference of a circle in centimeters versus inches. The bad news is, many parents are finding themselves faced with these very issues once again when their child asks for help with homework.

What if your child's homework stumps you? It is bound to happen one day. Your child will ask you a question or show you a homework problem that you can't even understand, much less answer.

The Learning First Alliance offers the following top 10 tips for parents regarding math and studying in general:

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Regardless of your own experience with school mathematics, you can encourage your child to develop a love of math through supporting his performance, helping with school projects and discussing their homework.

Stay informed.
Keep yourself apprised of the specific academic standards that children are required to meet at each grade level.

Make sure your kids are taking advanced courses.
The mathematics that students study in the middle grades has a strong effect on whether they will be able to take the higher levels of mathematics necessary for admission to college and for an increasing number of jobs.

Be a champion for challenge.
A challenging math curriculum can stimulate children to learn and can positively influence growth in other areas of their education. Advocate for mathematics reform efforts that focus on raising expectations for student performance.

Make math fun.
Spend time with kids on simple board games, puzzles and activities that encourage better attitudes and stronger math skills. Even everyday activities such as playing with toys in a sandbox or in a tub at bath time can teach children math concepts like weight, density and volume.

Mix in math.
The kitchen is filled with tasty opportunities to teach fractional measurements, like doubling and dividing cookie recipes.

Use real-world examples to teach math.
Point out ways that people use math every day to pay bills, balance their checkbooks, figure out their net earnings and make change and tip at restaurants. Involve older children in projects that incorporate geometric and algebraic concepts like planting a garden, building a bookshelf or figuring how long it will take to drive to your family vacation destination.

Prepare them for a profession.
Let kids know what vocations require a sound base in mathematics. Careers in carpentry, landscaping, medicine, pharmacy, aeronautics and meteorology all require strong math skills.

Tune in to technology.
Encourage your child to use computers and the Internet at home, your local library and after-school programs for tasks like developing charts, graphs, maps and spreadsheets.

Encourage children to solve problems.
Provide assistance, but let them figure it out themselves. Problem solving is a lifetime skill.

There are many places to get wonderful information to help both parent and child get the most out of homework. If you have trouble finding such a place, go to the source itself – your child's teacher. If the teacher can't offer you the assistance, he or she may be able to refer you to a place that can and will give you all the information you need.

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