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What Families Can Do A Family’s Guide: Fostering Your Child’s Success in School Mathematics

Be positive!
If you have a negative attitude about mathematics, chances are your
child will, too. Help your child have a “can do” attitude by praising
your child’s efforts as well as her accomplishments. Acknowledge the
facts that mathematics can be challenging at times and that persistence
and hard work are the keys to success. Relate mathematics
learning to other endeavors that require hard work and persistence,
such as playing a sport. Struggling at times in mathematics is normal
and is actually necessary to, and valuable in, understanding

Link mathematics with daily life
Every day, people face situations that involve mathematics, such as
deciding whether one has enough money to purchase a list of items
at the store, reading a map to find out where one is, building a
budget, deciding on the shortest route to a destination, developing a
schedule, or determining the price of an item on sale. Help your
child realize that mathematics is a significant part of everyday life.
Suggestions for discussing mathematics with your elementary, middle,
or high school child during everyday activities are listed at the
end of this section.

2 Learn about mathematics related careers
Mathematics is foundational to a wide variety of interesting careers.
Research different careers with your child, and find out what she
should be doing now to prepare for these options. Help your child
understand that the school courses she takes now and the grades she
earns will affect her future. One source of information on the many
career possibilities that involve mathematics is Career Ideas for Kids
Who Like Math, by Diane Lindsey Reeves.

3 Ideas to Help Your Child Succeed in and Enjoy Mathematics

From A Family’s Guide: Fostering Your Child’s Success in School Mathematics. Copyright © 2004 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. www.nctm.org. All rights
reserved. This material may not be distributed electronically without written permission from NCTM.

4 Make mathematics fun
Play board games, solve puzzles, and ponder brain teasers with your
child. Your child enjoys these kinds of activities while enhancing his
mathematical thinking. Point out the mathematics involved, and
have your child discuss the strategies he used.
A Family’s Guide: Fostering Your Child’s Success in School Mathematics What Families Can Do

5 Support homework, don’t do it!
Homework is an area that can cause trouble in most households.
Relax, and remember whose homework it is. If you take over doing
homework for your child, you encourage him to easily give up or
seek help when working on a challenging problem. If you start to
panic when you do not know how to do the mathematics, you may
signal negative thoughts about mathematics to your child. Your
child is not likely to be resourceful, persistent, or confident if you
react in either of these ways.

6 Have High Expections!
Think of yourself as more of a guide rather than your child’s
teacher. Your role is not only to support her but also to help her
take responsibility for herself. You can facilitate your child’s homework
by asking questions and listening to your child. The simple act
of having your child explain something out loud can often help her
figure out the problem. Encourage your child to also show all her
calculations or a description of her thinking process on paper to
support the solution to a problem. This recording gives the student
something to look back on, either for review or to spot and fix a
mistake. It can also furnish the teacher with useful information
related to the student’s reasoning and understanding.


Every day, people face situations that ‘ involve mathematics.’