How Asking Questions Can Help Your Child with Math Homework

A young boy surrounded by math formulas is throwing his hands in the air from excitement

Does your student shy away from math? Do you find yourself wishing that you knew how to help? Providing guidance in math can be challenging for parents because of their own math anxiety. In other families, children want to give up and let their parents do the work for them. Fortunately for you, the answer to helping your student with math can be as easy as asking some questions!

How to Help with Math Homework

To get students ready to solve math problems, often you need to get them to look at the problem from a new angle. This may mean taking a step back to examine the goal of the problem. Encourage them to discuss the problem aloud with you by asking the following questions:

  • What are you being asked to determine?
    This question requires students to focus on the solution and allows them to consider how to attack a problem.
  • How will you know if your answer is right or wrong?
  • Can you describe the problem in your own words?
    Many times this simple exercise helps students make connections by asking them to use language rather than symbols.
  • Will it help to make a diagram?
    Using these questions is often enough to get a student unstuck and thinking about how to approach the math problem, rather than focusing on his or her frustration.

Encouraging Efforts to Solving Math Problems

Sometimes students have an idea of what to do but lack the confidence to attempt to solve the problem. You might be surprised at how often the next few questions get students moving in the right direction:

  • Where do you think you should begin?
  • What do you think you should do next?

Often, students know where to start or the next step to take, but they just need assurance that they’re on the right track. If you’re not sure if they’re on the right track, you can say something like, “Well, let’s try that.” This encourages them to continue and to make an attempt—which develops academic courage. Often, it is in making mistakes that the best learning occurs.

Building on What Students Know about Math Equations

When helping with math homework at home, prior knowledge could be a good place to start. If you want to build on what your student knows, ask the following question:

  • Is there anything you do know about the problem that might help you get started?
    This question encourages students to look at smaller parts of the problem or see similarities with other types of math problems they’ve already solved. Realizing that they’ve solved a similar problem not only builds confidence but can also spark their memory of the equations or operations they used to find the answer.

Questions to Help Students Check Their Math Homework

Encourage your student to pause and reflect for a moment after finding homework answers by asking the following question:

  • Does your answer make sense?

Parents can use this question to help students evaluate their solutions. If students don’t take the time to consider whether or not their solution makes sense, they sometimes end up submitting an incorrect answer despite having a solid understanding of the steps necessary to complete the task. If they slow down to give math problems a bit of extra thought, students can also gain insight into how well they understand (or don’t understand!) the material.

Whether your family attends online school, homeschool, or a neighborhood school, asking these questions will empower you to get more involved in your student’s learning and help your student move forward in math.

To learn how you can be more involved in your child’s education through online public school, visit the Connections Academy website. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.

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