Ruth Spivak: Kiducation


Four Great Ways to Survive Math

Resources to help your kids figure it out. (Especially when you can't...Shhhh!)

Kids aren't the only ones who don't "get' their math work. As children climb the grades, parents may find it harder to help with math. Most of us haven't done this stuff in years. (Plus, we're down a few brain cells.) It's kind of embarrassing to admit to your kids, and frustrating since you can't help them. So, what's a parent to do when a desperate teary-eye child really needs help in math? NOW! Not to worry, help is on the way. Check out these resources that I have used to great success both with my own kids and professionally. Even if you're a math wiz, you'll appreciate the extra support.

 JUMP math workbooks for K-8. Excellent program! Concepts are broken down into manageable steps, enabling kids to make "guided discoveries." Small advances build confidence in math, and allow kids to "get" every skill and concept. Created by mathematician, playwright, and Order of Canada recipient John Mighton, JUMP is growing in schools all over Canada. Affordable workbooks  (JUMP is non-profit), and free online teacher's guides. You will have to invest some time, but the payoff is worth it.

 Khan Academy. These low-tech Youtube lessons are revolutionizing the way kids learn math. Endorsed by Bill Gates, Sal Khan offers 10-15 minute lessons on every math topic from "1+1 to calculus." Self-paced learning means kids can focus on problem areas, or go ahead. Complete the exercises to earn badges (fun!), and have your progress tracked on a knowledge map so you know what to learn next. Almost 200 million lessons delivered so far in this global classroom. (They even offer lessons in the humanities.) Check it out!

 IXL Math. Online practice, practice, practice for grades K-10. Questions adjust to child's ability, and parents can receive emails on their kid's progress. Topics are organized by grade, with an audio option for K and  grade 1. Drills don't seem so daunting to kids when it's on a computer, and parents don't have to scramble with worksheets. Note: This program requires paid membership, either $9.99 a month or $79 a year. There is some limited free sampling, so you can decide if it's right for your kids.

 Human teachers. (No link required!) You don't need to do this alone. Teachers are walking reservoirs of resources and ideas. Discuss your concerns with teachers, because often they will suggest "outside the box" solutions to apply in class and at home. Some teachers or aides may even offer your child some one-on-one help. Effective parent-teacher communication is essential so you can understand curriculum goals, home work expectations, and how your child is doing in class.

Remember, changes don't happen overnight—especially in math. In fact, it can take a while to pinpoint the problem. Be patient and flexible, and hopefully these resources will add up for you and your kids.