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Wonder Math Reveals 5 Strategies for Parents to Help Children Become Confident in Math

NEWPORT BEACH, CA–Fractions. Decimals. Word problems. With the school year firmly underway, millions of students across America are, once again, struggling in math and are convinced they are not good at it. Concerned parents are searching for solutions, as they know that the subject will be crucial to the success of their children as they get older. “Math develops their ability to think critically and do well on tests and college entrance exams. It can even impact career options,” says Ramit Varma, who co-founded Wonder Math with Jake Neuberg. “That is why it is so important that children in grades 2nd-5th become confident in it. Parents in particular can play a major role and encourage their students to develop positive attitudes about math so that they are successful.”

Below, Ramit and Jake outline five simple strategies for parents who want to help their children have a strong math foundation and excel at school.

Strategy #1: Connect math to the real world

Even as adults, people who have math anxiety wonder how math applies to real life. However, the exciting reality is that math is everywhere, and parents can help their children discover it each day.

“It’s very important to connect what a child learns in the math classroom to the real world so that they see its relevance,” Ramit says. “How you do this, of course, will depend on their age. For younger kids, it could be as simple as talking to your child about how tall a building is. Perhaps you can ask how many rows of windows it has. Or, you can point out a man on the street and ask your child to compare his height to their dad’s. Which one is taller? How do you know? It’s simple questions like this that show kids that math really is applicable to life away from school.”

For older students, road trips are a prime opportunity. The usual question “Are we there yet?” can be turned into a learning experience. Jake recommends asking a child to look at the mile markers, compare them to how fast they are traveling, and figure out the approximate arrival time. This intuitive understanding of measures, distances, and times will be instrumental in their mathematical reasoning ability.

Strategy #2: Team up with your child’s teacher

To encourage your student to cultivate an interest in math, it is important to work with their teacher. However, this goes a little further than the usual parent-teacher conference. Instead, try to be more proactive and work alongside the teacher to help your child improve.

“To get the most out of these interactions, make sure the teacher knows you are there to support them,” Jake suggests. “Ask them for a syllabus, but don’t throw it away. Make sure you put it on your fridge, where you can refer to it each day. That way, you will know throughout the year what your child is working on in math.”

This ultimately makes it easier for the parent to connect what their kid is learning in the classroom to the real world. That, in turn, leads to more math enthusiasm and greater success at school.

Strategy #3: Beware of the homework war

No surprise here: in 2023, parents are still battling their kids to get homework done. What is interesting, however, is how much attitudes about homework are shifting across the country, even among educators.

“When I was a kid, it was all about ‘get it done,’” Ramit remembers. “Nowadays, if you make it a huge issue, it is actually counterproductive because the child becomes more anxious about the process.”

Instead of forcing a student, parents can try engaging teachers for help. What is really going on with the student? Do they already know how to do the assignment, so it is boring? Are there more interesting alternatives?

“Above all, avoid making yourself the enforcer of homework because it just leads to bigger problems down the road,” Ramit adds. “Remember: it’s not about the kid being lazy or bad. The solution could be as simple as helping them to understand why the homework is even relevant in the first place. Once they see that, they may stop resisting.”

Strategy #4: Avoid any labels

Ramit and Jake both believe that the most unproductive thing a parent can do is label their children. This is true whether that label is good or bad. Consider, for example, what happens when a child is told they are really smart. No matter how true that might be, they will inevitably struggle, and when they do, they may question their own ability.

“On the flip side, parents who want to comfort a child sometimes tell them that they are not a math person. That is so common that we don’t even think twice about it,” Jake says. “What’s really happening here, though, is that the child is being given permission to disengage from math, which is the foundation for two-thirds of the career opportunities they will have. Far better is to allow them to struggle with math and to praise any amount of progress they make.”

Strategy #5: Make math a game

For young students, it is important to simply make math fun. Games can be pivotal in a child’s ability to go from concept to fluency, such as transitioning from counting on their fingers to immediately knowing the answer. Games, obviously, increase a student’s interest and energy, as do rewards or points for doing something correctly. The key is to make games relevant. Be sure any activity is meant to reinforce a specific skill or ability and to always guide the student towards a game’s successful completion.

Any child can fall in love with math

“It is so critical that elementary school kids develop good attitudes about math, as this prevents any cracks in their foundation of knowledge that normally emerge in middle school and high school,” Ramit states. “As parents, we can help them see the beauty and fun inherent in math and then watch as they grow into confident thinkers and lifelong achievers.”

Wonder Math is the only online math-tutoring program that develops mathematical thinkers by teaching through active learning in the context of a story, making math fun, relevant, and easy to understand. Wonder Math protects a student’s well-being by building their confidence in math topics at school. By fostering math competency, instilling a positive attitude toward math, and establishing a foundation of confidence at the critical ages of 7 to 11, kids will be brighter, more hardworking, resilient, and independent adults who are prepared to achieve a lifetime of advantages. To learn more about Wonder Math, please visit https://www.wondermath.com/ or contact:

Louise Brewer, Wonder Math