Number bonding? Skip counting? Does your child's Common Core math homework make your head spin? You're not alone.
Plenty of parents who grew up learning how to add and subtract with older teaching methods now look at their children's Common Core homework with a sense of panic, or at least mild bewilderment. Rest assured, you have not forgotten how to do first-grade math.
The concepts themselves haven't changed (two plus two will always equal four, no matter which way it's taught) — merely the method of explaining and presenting them has. So, take a deep breath, relax, and follow these tips to help your child with his Common Core math homework problems, even when you're not quite sure what's going on.
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Yes, you may have to do a little homework yourself in order to help your child with his own, but it will be worth it. Many school districts now offer Common Core workshops specially geared toward parents who want to be able to help their kids with their homework. There are also books and online guides where you can learn all about the new standards and see sample homework problems.
Consider forming a support group with other parents in your child's class where you can all help each other out — parents who have been there before with their older children may be able to lend some expert advice!
Have Your Child Explain It to You
If your child is having trouble understanding her homework and you have no clue where to begin, start by looking over any of her notes or tutorials from the teacher on the lesson together. Then, ask your child to explain the concept to you. After all, when it comes to the Common Core, she's the expert!
Putting your child in the role of teacher might help her think about the material in a new way and come to a better understanding of it (or at the very least, it will help YOU understand it better so you can help her!). Once you're able to get a handle on what's going on with all the new terminology, it will be easier to help your child.
Don't Be Overly Involved
It's one thing if you have a six-year-old struggling with number bonding. It's another thing entirely if you have an older child who is doing math you don't even remember existing. When it's not just the teaching methods but the concepts themselves that feel like a foreign language, sometimes the best you can do as a parent is to keep your child relaxed and focused on the assignment.
In fact, with any homework in general, experts have found that the more responsibility a parent takes in their child's homework, the less responsibility that child develops. Help him get started by reviewing the directions together and discussing the plan he'll take to complete the assignment, but let him do most of the work independently. If you notice signs of stress getting to him, have him walk away for a quick five-minute break.
If there's a problem he simply cannot solve, have him email the teacher with a question or leave a note on it to ask the teacher in class the next day. You can help him manage the anxiety of getting his homework done even if you're not quite an expert on the work itself.
Turn and Talk
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A big part of the Common Core is learning to communicate with your peers and come up with solutions in groups. So, why not extend that practice into the homework?
If your child is stuck on a problem and you have no idea how to solve it, have her call a friend from class. They can work on finding the solution together, and they can each explain things that the other might be struggling with. If talking to a friend seems like it will be too likely to turn into social hour, there's also a plethora of homework help apps and websites available, like Khan Academy, which offers free videos and tutorials on just about every subject.
The more familiar you become with the terminology and methods used in Common Core math homework, the less intimidating it will feel. Though it can feel frustrating when your kids have no idea who My Dear Aunt Sally i,s and yet insist that you learn something called the "forgiveness method," it does become easier with a little practice. And who knows, maybe you'll even grow to love counting up and drawing arrays!