Studying for math and science can be a stumbling block for some elementary students. Trying to keep numbers, diagrams, and science terms straight in your head sometimes overwhelms study sessions and students (and parents!) might shut down.
Helping your child study effectively for math and science is a vitally important skill and worth developing early on so that she can carry it with her as she moves into STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects in high school.
You can make a difference in your child’s math and science performance now and in the future by trying some of the following tips.
1. Play “Beat the Clock”
Print out math or science facts that need to be memorized for an upcoming test from websites such as superkids.com. Sites like this one allow the selection of specific facts such as multiplying with fours or addition of twos only. Practicing one fact pattern at a time leads to quicker mastery.
Jot down the time it takes your child to work through the page. During the next practice session, set the timer for that amount of time and say, “I bet you can’t beat the clock!” Keep decreasing the time as your child progresses to automaticity.
2. Changing numbers
Because math and science are taught differently now than they used to be, sometimes parents don’t know exactly how to instruct their kids on solving problems the way they are taught in school.
But if you want to help your student practice, the best thing you can do is to take a math problem from your kid’s notebook or textbook and change the numbers in the problem. If you just change the numbers, you and your child can refer to his class notes to make sure he can solve it in the exact same way.
To learn more about the best ways to help your kids with homework, check out this blog about Common Core math.
3. Use a dry erase board with many colors
To practice for an upcoming math test, write a few math problems on a small dry erase board. Kids love using dry erase boards and many prefer them over traditional pencil and paper.
Try out different color markers, too. Color increases attention, so don’t be afraid of using bold hues. Putting each part of the equation or graph in different colors helps students follow along with very long solving procedures.
Research shows that kids with ADHD especially benefit from having the signs in math problems stand out in a different color. This helps with their attention and memorization.
4. Draw a picture
Kids have a tendency to want to solve problems in their heads. By drawing a picture, it makes your child lay out all the steps visually, which allows her to avoid mistakes and often get the right answer.
This technique doesn’t work with all math problems though. It’s best for word problems, anything to do with geometry, and certain fractions that can be drawn out.