The Sixth Grade is a turning point for many aspiring young mathematicians. Many new, complex, and cognitively challenging concepts are introduced that move farther and farther away from “reality” into abstract ideas. Problem areas lie particularly in the introduction of algebra, basic statistics, and probability. Many students will benefit from help with their homework. To be effective though, keep these five tips in mind to help your child gain the understanding they will need.
Young minds have great memories. But memory alone is simply not sufficient when studying math. Frequent, focused practice on dozens of problems is critical to cementing the skills of math rather than just remembering the facts. So look out for sites that make many practice problems and examples a core part of their offering, over and above the explanations.
But simply practicing problems can still leave students without the depth of insight that is critical to making them “good at math”. These insights are built when the concepts become intuitive and natural. To reliably make that happen, it’s often necessary that the same concept be explained in many different ways so that one of them “clicks” for the learner.
Children learn in different ways, and are not all exactly alike. If you find that your child isn’t getting to grips with a particular concept or problem, look for different delivery methods, such as stories, pictures, videos, even music. Simply hammering on the same lesson is frustrating and discouraging, but a different angle on the same material can be fresh and interesting enough to trigger a breakthrough.
Mathematics may seem like a serious business. But it can be fun. And kids just wanna have fun. Don’t fight it! Embrace it! Many of the newer math support sites work hard to inject a sense of fun into the subject matter, because the longer we can hold a child’s attention, the more effectively they learn.
Learning math cannot be forced. Especially when children become frustrated and confused, there simply comes a point that trying harder is counter-productive. So sometimes, rather than searching for another fun video of a tricky concept with a hundred practice problems, the best option is to give it a rest. Go outside, get some fresh air and some exercise. Chances are, coming back to the problem fresh will just make it click into place.
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