Access Online Resources
For many parents, the biggest challenge they face helping their child with high school math is that the material is too difficult for them to easily help out. Familiarize yourself with the range of online resources, like Khan Academy and IXL, that provide your child with plenty of opportunities to review the concepts she is studying, take tutorials, and do practice problems. Even if you can’t solve the problems yourself, you can help steer your child toward helpful resources.
Find a Math Mentor
If your child is struggling with math and doesn’t understand what use it could ever be to her, it might help for her to have a mentor. This could be a friend or family member who uses math in their work, such as an accountant or an engineer or a programmer. Enlist this person to talk to your child to help to demystify math for her.
Success in math has a lot to do with taking the time to understand a problem, thinking about different ways of solving it, and persevering if initial attempts to solve it fail. Encourage your child to stick it out with math that she finds challenging and to seek help if she needs it.
Subscribe to Magazines That Feature Math
Subscribe to magazines like Wired or Popular Science that cover subjects related to math in an entertaining and informative format.
Watch Movies That Feature Math
Plan a family movie-watching night around a film that features math, like A Beautiful Mind, Moneyball, or The Da Vinci Code.
Highlight Real-World Examples of Math in the News
Highlight examples of the real-world use of the math concepts that your child is learning when you’re watching the news together. Some are obvious, such as statistics and poll numbers that are often cited, and others are less so. Recent news stories that involved math included the complicated operation to right the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship and Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting jump to earth from the stratosphere. Encourage your child do further research into stories that interest her and learn more about the math that was involved.
Consider giving your child a small sum of money to invest in the stock market. If that’s not an option, have her open a “fantasy” account and track its ups and downs as though she were investing real money.
Ask Your Child to Teach You
Ask your child to teach you the math she is studying. The best way to learn a concept is often to teach it to someone else, and verbalizing the ideas she is learning helps to clarify them for your child.
Discuss Math-Related Career Options
Encourage your child to explore ways in which math is used in different careers. How do doctors use math? Engineers? Bankers? What is she starting to think of as career goals? Help her explore, by researching online or talking to other adults, the role of math in the fields she is starting to consider.
Highlight Math in Sports
Sports provide an engaging way of exploring a host of mathematical concepts. Any hard-core baseball fan knows that the game can’t truly be appreciated without an understanding of some essential statistics, like a player’s batting average and runs batted in. Football is also full of statistics, such as the percentage of passes a quarterback completed. If your child is passionate about a sport, she’ll enjoy exploring it through math.