How to Help Your Child with Common Core Math Homework

By Christopher Danielson

A few of the more stressful parenting moments include when time is tight and when your child is struggling with a homework assignment in his Common Core math class. To reduce this stress, here is a good strategy, in three parts:

  • Listen. Ask your child to tell you what he is supposed to do. If something needs to be done a particular way, listen to what it is. Ask what he knows and doesn’t know and then listen to the response. Don’t try to tell him what to do or show him the way that you remember from grade school. Just listen.

  • Help. After you have listened, decide how you can help. Sometimes you may have to show your child the way you learned to do something. Sometimes you may have to look something up online together. Sometimes you may have to phone a friend — your child’s friend who may have an idea about what to do or your friend who may have some expertise. Don’t assume that the way you learned is the best way (nor that it is the worst). An alternate way of working through something may help a child understand the meaning of what he’s doing.

  • Let it go. You and your child shouldn’t be expected to spend your evenings engaged in tears and combat in the name of multiplication facts. As a parent, model good study habits by establishing that some time will be spent doing what is assigned. You also should model good mental health habits by setting limits on that time. When your child is no longer making productive progress, let this homework go. You can write a note to the teacher explaining the decision that you have made and get on with the rest of your evening.

    If getting stuck is a rare or occasional thing, letting it go is a good strategy to practice. If your child is regularly getting stuck on his homework and you find yourself letting it go on a regular basis, you probably need to have a conference with your child’s teacher so that you each understand the demands being placed on your child. Frequent homework struggles can be a sign that your child needs something different from what he’s getting at school. In such a case, you and your child’s teacher should figure out how to work together to get him what he needs.