NYTimes.com published a piece with tips for parents who have children who are struggling with math in school:
While we wait for teachers to get the help they need, though, families will still be left with the frustrating task of monitoring homework time. What can parents do to help their children extract all the best from the new math — and minimize suffering from the worst? With the right attitude, and these tips, it might just be possible for you and your children to not only survive, but thrive.
1. Listen to What’s Going Wrong
Teaching children math requires first figuring out what they don’t understand. Instead of getting to the heart of a misunderstanding, we are far more likely to tell children something like, “No, that’s not right, try it this way instead.” The better response to a wrong answer begins with asking the child to explain her thinking.
For example, take a simple problem like 49 x 5. Many children will incorrectly write the answer as 405, and great math teachers know why. They have used the correct algorithm, lining up the numbers, carrying the 4, etc. But they have them in the wrong order, first adding 4 to 4 to get 8 and then multiplying the product by 5 to get 40, instead of multiplying 5 x 4 to get 20 and then adding 4 to get 24. Seeing this deeper misunderstanding in a child’s wrong answer allows you to combat it, showing the child not only the right steps, but why the wrong ones don’t make sense.