4th grade math tips: Here's how to help your student

Here's how you can help your fourth-grader master the basics of math outside of the classroom.
Teacher teaches young students.

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By Aisha Labi

Hoping to help your fourth-grader with math skills? Here are some basic tips that experts suggest.

Encourage a positive attitude toward math

It’s around this age that many youngsters become discouraged by math and begin to think of it as a subject they’re just not good at. Be aware of this and try to prevent your child from developing a defeatist attitude toward math. Encourage them to stick with it when a problem appears difficult and to approach it in different ways.

Read math problems out loud

If your child is struggling with math problems, have them read each problem out loud slowly and carefully, so your child can hear the problem and think about what is being asked. This helps them break down the problem and come up with problem-solving strategies.

Integrate math into everyday activities

Continue to find ways to integrate discussion of math concepts such as “times as much” into your everyday activities. Compare the weights of your fourth-grader and their siblings, or the family pet. Figure out how many times your cat’s weight your child weighs, and how many times your child’s weight their father weighs.

Keep an eye out for math concepts

Encourage your child to spot examples of some of the math concepts they are learning about. See how many right angles or right triangles your child can spot. Or have them look for parallel lines, such as train tracks or pillars in a building.

Highlight how math is used in cooking

Baking and cooking are among the best ways to familiarize your fourth-grader with how fractions work. Having them help out in the kitchen also reinforces valuable sequencing skills and time management concepts.

Practice math in the car

When you have a long trip to take in the car and your child asks how long until you get there, have them answer the question themselves by using math. Tell them how fast you’re traveling and how far away you are, and see if they can estimate how long it will take you to arrive.

Use math in house projects

Encourage your child to use their math skills for projects around the house. If you’re wallpapering or carpeting, for example, have them calculate wall or floor areas and figure out the total cost of various materials.

Encourage math appreciation through sports

Sports provide a fun and engaging way of exploring a host of mathematical concepts, starting with basic addition. The halves of a soccer game or the quarters of a football game offer an illustration of how fractions work in the real world. If your child enjoys a sport, encourage him or her to explore it through math.

Encourage music appreciation

Music is a great way for your child to engage with concepts related to math. Practicing an instrument means learning about tempo, measure, and meter—all of which involve math.

Play family games

Plenty of family games incorporate math. Tic-tac-toe, Connect Four, many card games, and dominoes are just some of the games that help build strategic thinking and math skills.

To find out what your fourth-grader will be learning in math class, check out our fourth grade math skills page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Joyce Epstein, Director, Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University; Pamela Mason, Program Director/Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Denise Walston, Director of Mathematics, Council of the Great City Schools; Nell Duke, Professor, University of Michigan; Leanna Baker, Retired Math Teacher; Bon Crowder, Math Teacher and Blogger, MathFour.com; Robin Schwartz, VP, Association of Teachers of Math of NYC, and align with the Common Core State Standards.