Common Core math for parents: Asking questions at homework time
Homework is a hot topic in the transition to Common Core Standards. Homework assignments that ask students to think in new ways can be intimidating to parents. When something comes home that looks unfamiliar to you, don’t panic. Homework is just a way of giving students additional time to think about the things that they’re learning — what teachers call time on task.
Your child’s teacher assigns homework with the best interests of your child and of the class in mind. When your child needs help with homework, remember that the homework is your child’s responsibility, not yours. You obviously want to help your child, but not do the homework for them. Above all, don’t let the homework add extra stress and take over your home life. Start by asking your child to explain the problem they are working on and to explain that day’s lesson from class. Then, you can support your child’s learning by asking them questions such as these:

How did you do this in class?

Can I see your work from class today?

How do you know that? (Ask this question of both right and wrong answers.)

What do know how to do very well on this assignment?

What do you not know how to do very well on this assignment?

How can you get help at school outside of your regular math time when you need it?
Use your child’s answers to these questions to guide your next move. Help them see how the day’s lesson can help them solve the problem they are working on, tell how you think about these problems, and ask followup questions.
Keep Common Core math facts straight
A lot of misinformation is available about the Common Core Standards. These standards guide the math your child learns in school each year. In order to advocate for and to support your child, you need to be well informed. Here are some important facts that counter some of the common myths about the Common Core Standards.

The Common Core standards are only for math and English language arts. The Common Core doesn’t have science, history, or sex education standards. You may have heard of a set of standards called the Next Generation Science Standards, but they aren’t part of the Common Core.

Common Core includes the standard algorithms that you probably studied as a child. The oldfashioned way of solving addition and subtraction problems hasn’t gone away with Common Core. Students build up to those algorithms in the Common Core by exploring number patterns, by using the relationship between operations, and by representing their thinking with pictures and equations.

Common Core classrooms value the ways that you probably think about numbers. You can probably solve a problem such as 1001 – 2 in your head. You probably do it without borrowing from the thousands place. Maybe you count backward or compare this problem to a similar one such as 1001 – 1. Students develop these ways of thinking and use them to solve problems in Common Core math classrooms.

High schools may still offer precalculus and calculus courses. The Common Core standards outline three years’ worth of math courses for all high school students. Hence, it leaves a free year for precalculus for students who need it for their college majors. Schools can supplement this precalculus content across the other high school courses in order to prepare students for calculus courses in their senior year. Supplementing in this way requires creative program coordination, but the standards don’t prohibit it. Schools have had similar programs for many years because parents and students have increased the demand for Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
A snapshot of the Common Core Standards for mathematical practice
In addition to the content standards that state what students need to learn at each grade level, the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice describe how students should approach their mathematical work and what kinds of tasks teachers and curriculum should present to students.
You can use the following list to keep track of the eight Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. They are as follows:

Making sense of problems and persevering in solving them

Reasoning abstractly and quantitatively

Constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others

Modeling with mathematics

Using appropriate tools strategically

Attending to precision

Looking for and making use of structure

Looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning