Category Archives: Parenting

7 parent-tested tips for how to help a child with math

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely in the same place I was a few years ago.  My son was a young student struggling with math.  And my husband and I were struggling to find a way to help him.

For a long time, he just wasn’t getting it.

Now let me skip ahead to the happy ending.  That child is a straight-“A” student in math.

I hope that’s an encouragement to other parents who are in the same situation.  It is possible for a child to overcome difficulties with math.  That child can eventually become an excellent math student.

Image credit: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

There’s no quick fix for how to help a child with math.  It may not be easy, but it is definitely worth the effort.

The tips below are the strategies that helped us get from the struggle to the happy ending.  I’m not an education expert, but these are the things that worked for us.

7 tips for how to help a child with math

1.  Believe.  Start with the belief that the child will get it.  When a child is struggling with something, it is so easy for him or her to feel incapable and hopeless about it.  That can lead to just giving up.  It’s important for both of you to stay positive and believe that it’s possible to improve.

As President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

And Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re  right.”

These leaders knew that the right attitude has an important effect on success.  Believe in your child.  And make sure children who are struggling believe in themselves.

2.  Encourage.  Regularly communicate your confidence in your child.  When they bring home another bad grade, say something uplifting about doing better next time.  Let them know it’s OK, that it’s not the end of the world, but you have confidence that they can do better.  When they improve even slightly, make sure they know you’re happy with their efforts.

I’ll never forget my son’s excitement when he got his first “A” in math on his report card.  He was elated, and he said, “Mom, I never was really sure it was possible, but you and dad always kept believing in me and encouraging me so I made sure I was trying to do my best.  And now look, I got an ‘A’!”

Encouragement – in the good times and the bad – helps a child keep striving for success.

Encouragement helps children keep striving for success.

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3.  Be involved.  Nothing speaks more clearly about your commitment to your child’s learning than investing time with your child.  It’s not just talk.  It’s action.

Be available to provide help as much as possible.  Sit down and talk through homework together.  If you feel like someone else can help better, get a tutor, but remain involved by asking about the math lessons and seek to personally help as much as possible.

When my husband and I were working with my son, there were times we all got frustrated.   Sometimes my husband and I alternated on helping him to try a different perspective for going over a concept.  There were times we had to take a deep breath and take a break – for an evening or even for a week.  But then we started working on it again with our son.  We went over homework together.  We did extra worksheets together.  We went through flashcards together.  He knew he wasn’t in it alone.

Make sure your child knows you’re in this with him or her and you’re there to help.

4.  Communicate with the teacher.  Be sure to contact the teacher and ask for his or her professional advice on how to help your child.  The teacher may notice particular issues and may be able to provide some extra worksheets or direct you to specific resources that may help.

Teachers have classrooms full of students, and they don’t always have the time to give individual attention to students.  But I’ve learned over the years that when I keep in contact with the teacher to work on my child’s problem areas (without being pushy or demanding), she’ll usually make an effort to communicate proactively with me about issues and look for ways to help.  It’s been a blessing to rejoice together with teachers to see my child improve.

5.  Practice, practice, practice.  It’s been said that repetition is the key to success and that practice makes perfect.  In school, math homework is assigned to give students practice performing the math facts and operations they have learned.  But is the class time and homework enough repetition and practice?

For my oldest son, he heard the math lesson in class, did the homework, and he had it down.  For my younger son who struggled, he needed a lot more repetition and practice.  So we worked on it.  A lot.

We came to realize that it just took more time for him, but he would get it eventually.

It was like he struggled in the dark for a while with a new math fact or concept, and then a light switch finally flipped on and he could see it correctly.  The struggle was so worth it to see the light of understanding in my son’s eyes when he finally got it!

6.  Make it fun and practical.  Help math come alive by showing students real-world application of math concepts.  Use a bag of snack-sized candy bars or marshmallows and group them to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Show how you use math to divvy them up.  Talk about fractions when cutting a pizza into slices.  Set up a pretend store and let children use money to buy and sell things with you.

Be creative and make math as fun as possible in as many ways as possible.  Because people learn in different ways, you never know which strategy you may use that will spark a better understanding about how numbers work.

Hands-on learning is especially powerful for many children, so being able to physically touch and manipulate numbers of objects can really help solidify numbers concepts for them.  My son seemed to grasp multiplication better when we had him physically group objects together with his hands and then tied that back to a math problem on a piece of paper.

7.  Find resources.  Thankfully, math resources abound if you look for them.  You can find a wide variety of free and paid resources to help with math skills.

Bonus tip
8.  Pray about it.  I put this last because I realize that not everyone who reads this post will share my Christian faith.  But as a Christian, I really believe this goes first.  The Bible tells us to pray regularly, and Hebrews 4:16 says we will find help through prayer.  It says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 

My husband, son and I prayed regularly about his understanding of math.  We prayed together before working on it at home, and I advised him to pray about it before his tests at school.  When he eventually “got it” and started doing well in math, we attributed it not only to his hard work, but also to answered prayer.

Overcoming the obstacles – my son’s math success story

My son, who struggled with math early in school, is now in high school.  After all his work in elementary school, building the foundation for upper-level math, he no longer has problems with his math classes.

In elementary school, he had the most difficulty in the early grades.  Up through third grade, he put in a lot of extra work just to get to a “C” in math on his report cards.  By his upper elementary years, he had worked up to “B” grades in math.

He earned his first “A” in math in seventh grade.  He has never received a lower math grade on his report card since then.  (I should mention that he has always attended a traditional, private school so he was not learning the Common Core math curriculum.)

The bonus is that his hard work has paid off for other subjects, too.  He’s now getting “A” grades across all of his classes.  His early struggles with math have taught him diligence, perseverance, and good study skills that apply to all of his schoolwork.

I’m proud of my son, but I’m including his academic success story not to brag, but to encourage other parents whose children are struggling in a particular area.  It really can turn around!

7 tips for how to help a child struggling with math

I would love to hear from you.  Do you have other tips for how to help a child with math?

Back-to-school sales for 2016

Some schools in my area are already back in session with their year-round school schedule.  The first day will be arriving soon for other students.

That means it’s time for back-to-school sales and specials.  Stores have lots of special deals waiting for parents and students this time of year.

back-to-school sales

Image credit: ArtsyBee / Pixabay

This week, my son used money he earned from cutting grass for a new laptop computer that was on sale at Best Buy.  He got a great deal on an entry-level Lenovo laptop for less than $150.

Ready for some savings?  Check out the back-to-school sales listed below.

The specials below contain affiliate links.  That means if you buy something using these sale links, I may receive a small commission.

2016 back-to-school sales

Check back for more specials, as merchants regularly add new sales and special savings during back-to-school season.

Crazy 8
Back to School Blowout! $5, $10, and $15 Deals at Crazy8 through 08/05/16.

40% Off All Uniforms at Crazy8 through 07/28/16.  Crazy8 has high quality uniforms, ranging from hoodies to polos, dresses to shorts, and everything in between.

$9.99 Jeans at Crazy8 through 07/28/16.

40% off the entire store at Gymboree through 07/29/16.

Get Up to 75% Off Back to School Essentials at zulily! Shop now and save through 09/09/2016!

Old Navy
Lowest price of the season. All Uniforms on sale now. Up to 50% off. Polos from $5, Shorts from $8, Pants from $10. The biggest deals at Old Navy. Restrictions apply. Ends 7/27/16.

30% off Old Navy Clearance merchandise. Use code JACKPOT at Old Navy. Limited time. Restrictions apply. Ends 7/30/16.

It’s Super Cash Time! Get $10 for every $35 you spend at Old Navy. Restrictions apply. Ends 8/28/16.

Back to School! Buy 1, Get 1 Shoes! Valid 7/26-8/8/16

Extra 25% off $50+ with code FIRSTDAY! Valid 7/26-8/8/16

Back to School! Up to 50% off! Valid 7/26-8/15/16

$8.99 French Toast Uniform Polos for kids + 20% off with code SCHOOL20. Orig. $18-20. Valid 7/25-7/30/16.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  For more information about affiliate links, please refer to my disclosure statement.

Tackling stains with new Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent

Springs brings lots of lovely things – warm weather, flowers, and time outside. With an active family, that inevitably leads to some less lovely things:  stains.

My kids find so many ways to stain their clothes.  There are grass stains from soccer and chocolate stains from dripping ice cream cones.  And of course there are the variety of mystery stains that nobody can explain.

OK, if I’m being honest, I must admit I create my own fair share of stains while cooking, baking and gardening.

This is a sponsored post.  As a member of the Purex Social Insiders program, the Purex brand provided me with a free sample of Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent to facilitate my honest review.
All opinions are my own.

I’ve used Purex laundry detergent for years because it has always done a good job cleaning our clothes, and it is very reasonably priced.  {Price is important when you’re doing mountains of laundry!}

Over the years I’ve also used a lot of Clorox for whites and Clorox 2 for colors.  Now Purex is introducing a new Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent.  It’s two great things that are perfect together! The new Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent is safe for colors and formulated to work on 100 stains.

Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent vs. chocolate stains

My bottle of Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent came in handy recently when I discovered my daughter’s shirt wadded up in the dirty laundry with chocolate stains down the front.

The picture shows her stained, wrinkly shirt after being shoved into the bottom of her laundry basket for a few days, letting the chocolate spots set into the fabric.

Stain - pre Purex

Tip from Purex:  Pretreat tough stains by rubbing some Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent into the fabric and letting it sit for 5 minutes before washing.

While loading the rest of the clothes into the washing machine, I pretreated the chocolate drips by applying the detergent on the stained areas for a few minutes.

Stain - treated with Purex

I then washed the load in the Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent.  Her shirt came out perfectly clean!  Doesn’t it look as good as new?Stain - removed with PurexThe laundry all smelled good, too.  I received the Original Fresh scent, which has a nice fragrance.  It smells, well, fresh and clean.

The detergent also comes in Sunny Linen scent.  That one sounds nice, so I’m looking forward to using that scent as well.

Want to try the new Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent yourself?  The Purex website has a special Purex Promotions page with coupons and other promotions.

They even have a sweepstakes open until April 30, 2016 for a chance to win a $100 gift card and a year’s supply of Purex detergent.  Good luck if you decide to enter!