__How Can You Help with Math Homework?__
I have recently had conversations with a few parents about math homework and would like to spend some time addressing math homework routines at home and school.

I have chosen to use spiraled math homework that covers many concepts instead of homework that only focuses on the concept that we are learning on a given day. This means that your child will see concepts that they have learned months ago, weeks ago, and possibly even concepts that are coming up. While I believe that this type of homework is really beneficial for me (and the child) as I hope to keep students' previous learning sharp, assess their ability to independently complete concepts we are currently focusing on, and see who can solve problem-types that I have not yet discussed, I know this may also be a source of confusion and frustration at times. How do you know what your child should have mastered already? (I'll address more about this in an upcoming post). And, most importantly, how do you help?

Can you help your child with math homework?

**Absolutely! **It seems that resisting a parent's help with math homework is a typical "coming of age" behavior for 4th and 5th grade students. However, many of you feel that it is an important role for you to play in your child's education and I would agree. Looking over your child's math homework is definitely a way to keep yourself in the loop of how they are progressing and what the expectations are for 4th grade math.

Often, resistance comes from parents showing the child how to solve the problem using a different method than what was taught in the classroom. This can be confusing for a child when they are having difficulty understanding (or remembering) the method the teacher is using in class; however, for a child who has a good grasp on one method, introducing another method can help develop their math understanding. I often think we--students, teachers, parents--are looking for the "easier way" to solve math problems, but the truth is the only "easy" way to multiply or divide large numbers is to use a calculator! :) Regardless of the method students are taught or choose to use, learning how to do something new takes time. I teach at least two methods for solving multiplication and division problems because it allows students to develop deeper understanding and it gives them an additional way to check their work. Developing flexibility with different methods is also an expectation of our math curriculum.

It is truly my goal to do a better job of helping you help your child in the upcoming months. I will share videos that show the methods I have taught for multiplication, division, and other concepts. I will also share videos that can be used to help your child independently review concepts and additional websites that they can use to practice.

__How do I use Math Homework?__

Each morning, math homework is checked as students turn it in. Usually, it is returned immediately for them to make corrections on as many problems as possible before we leave for specials at 8:15. Students who have questions also ask for assistance at this time. If a student misses most of the problems, I may choose to work with them one on one during math time instead of having them return to try again on his/her own. This is so that I can gain a better understanding of what is not connecting for them--are they making accuracy mistakes or truly not understanding concepts?

**When problems are completed correctly, I usually assume that the child has a good grasp on the concept. **When helping your child with homework, I only ask that I am aware of any assistance that was necessary so that I can keep that in mind as I plan for your child.

So, how can you

*really* help with homework?

* Use the new stuff I am posting on the blog in the next few days to remind your child of how to solve the problems using the methods we are learning

* Initial beside of any problems that you help your child solve or write a quick note on the paper letting me know that your child did not understand.

**Some students even jot me a note that they didn't understand how to do something and need my help.**
* Let your child know that Ms. Russell has given you permission to work on homework with them and even APPRECIATES it when you check over their work!

* If your child is doing fine with understanding math, but has

**accuracy **issues, remind them that accuracy is a big focus in 4th grade and say something like

**"Hmmm...I see a few problems on here that are incorrect. I think you know what you are doing but some of your facts are wrong. Can you find your mistakes?"** If your child is quick to become frustrated with homework, you may identify the point of inaccuracy (as I often do this in class to show the student in a positive manner, "You were good up until...").

* One practical tip for helping your child understand how to do a problem is to show them how to

**solve a similar problem using different numbers**. After a few practice problems, your child can return to the homework problem and give it a try independently.

* If your child is missing (or misunderstanding) word problems, encourage them to jot down "

**the mathematical information the problem provides**" in a list format. This is the method we use for understanding and solving word problems in the classroom so that language should help them.

* Practice multiplication facts! Multiplication fact mastery (speed and accuracy) is a precursor to successfully mastering nearly everything in 4th grade math--and beyond! You can use a set of flash cards to quiz your child and remove cards that are super-easy for them. Research suggests that students only practice 8-10 minutes in one sitting, otherwise the facts start to jumble in their mind.

Please let me know if you have any general questions about math homework that I have not addressed in this post! Thanks for all you do!