If your child’s grades stink in math class, there are some key questions that you can ask his math teacher. These questions and answers can help illuminate the problems and will set you on a path to help your child. It is important to approach your child’s teacher with an open mind and a supportive attitude. The conversation will be more fruitful and constructive if you work together with the teacher and make the teacher feel that you are on his side.
When His Grades Stink – Ask These Questions:
- What are my child’s specific strengths and weaknesses in math?
- Can my child come to you for one on one help?
- What other resources are available if my child needs help with a concept/topic?
- Does my child see clarification by asking questions if he/she doesn’t understand the lesson?
- What can I do as a parent to better support my child in math?
- What is the best method to communicate with you and check my child’s math progress?
- Does my child struggle to stay focused during the lesson?
- Do you feel that my child is not answering questions because of computation mistakes or because he is not understanding the concepts?
- What are your strongest concerns regarding my child’s performance?
- What is your make-up or retest policy?
After meeting with your child’s math teacher and asking him these questions, you should have a much better understanding of your child’s performance in math class. With this increased understanding, you will be better able to help your child improve their grade and confidence in math.
Some of the answers from the teacher may leave you wondering, well–now what?
Parenting a tween and teen can be a lonely experience. Many parents report that this time in their life is one of the most depressing times, which makes sense when you are bombarded with not only social issues but academic ones as well. It can always be helpful to have more perspective to help you figure out how to best help your child. Armed with the answers to some of your questions, reach out to a trusted friend or relative to talk about the difficulties your child may be experiencing in school.
Having another person that understands where you are coming from can be super helpful. Look for other expert help as well. An experienced tutor can offer you their years of knowledge and may be able to help direct you down paths you have yet to explore like possible learning disabilities or other therapies that can assist your child in getting back on track.
Involve Your Child
Getting your child involved in solving the issues at school can be really helpful in that it forces your child to recognize this is more their problem than yours. Yes, you are there to support them, but ultimately they need to care. Ask your child to go back to the teacher for tutoring or clarification. Coach them what they may look like. Give them phrases they can use such as, “I didn’t understand __________. Can you explain it to me in a different way?” Having your child go back to their teacher for assistance builds a relationship between the student and the teacher. The teacher will also see that this student is engaged and genuinely interested in learning.
Watch Your Words
Another part that is easy to forget about is watching what you are saying about math. Our words can rub off on our attitudes quickly. Too often, I’ll hear parents tell me that their child got her “math skills” in a negative way. Your children have access to better teachers than we did and your attitude is actually hurting their desire to try. They lean towards a fixed mindset (I was born this way because mom was too).
While ability may run in families, you have to remember that we know more about how the brain really learns than in any other time in history. Instead of blaming your genetics, focus on the access to great teachers by saying phrases like, “This math is hard. I don’t really know how to help, but you have access to great teachers. Let’s use them!”
With the right kind of support, involving your child, and being aware of your influence–you’ll be able to help your child during this particularly trying time.