Hoping to help your seventh-grader with math skills? Here are some basic tips that experts suggest.
Think through new material together
As their assignments become more complicated, you might start to feel that your child's math homework is outpacing your comfort level. Continue to review math materials with their before class and to supervise their homework, regardless of your confidence in your own skills. Instead of trying to explain new concepts, have them explain themselves to you. If you are both confused, read the material and do your best to think it through and discuss it together. Go online to sites like Khan Academy, IXL, or XtraMath for extra assistance.
Highlight career options that require math
Mastering the math they're studying now will mean more options in the future for college major and career choices, so encourage them to enjoy the challenge of math. Help them become aware of the range of career paths and disciplines that incorporate math, such as engineering or economics or weather forecasting. One way to do this is by watching movies that highlight math and help your child understand how math can be put to use in the real world, such as Apollo 13 or Jurassic Park.
Success in math has a lot to do with taking the time to understand a problem, thinking about different ways of solving it, and persevering if initial attempts to solve it fail. Encourage your seventh-grader to stick it out with math that they find challenging and to seek help if your child needs it.
Foster effective study strategies
Help your seventh-grader learn how to study effectively for math tests. This means working through problems, not just reading through them or skimming the review sheet. The more problems they practice, the more they will internalize the various components. This increases speed and understanding so your child can be better prepared to adjust the steps when required.
Encourage savvy spending
Shopping continues to be one of the best opportunities for your child to practice the math concepts they are learning. They can practice percentages and subtraction by calculating the exact amount you’ll save when something goes on sale and the final cost of discounted items. Have their help you calculate the tip when you eat in a restaurant. If they have a cell phone, familiarize them with the details of the cell phone bill and how much the charge is per text or per minute of usage, so that they can learn to keep track of how much they are spending.
Discuss the news
As you watch the news together keep track of how often statistics are cited. Discuss the details of any polls that are mentioned. Talk about how these concepts are being used and the points they are being used to support or refute.
Calculate the odds
If your school is holding a raffle, discuss the details with your child. Have them find out how many tickets will be sold and how many prizes will be awarded. Then have them determine your probability of winning if you buy a ticket -- or 10 or 20.
Do home improvement projects together
Involve your seventh-grader in big projects at home. They're building math skills that can be put to practical use, and by having them help out you reinforce what they're learning. 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 an engaging way of exploring a host of mathematical concepts. Any hard-core baseball fan knows that the game can’t truly be appreciated without an understanding of some essential statistics, like a player’s batting average and runs batted in. Football is also full of statistics, such as the percentage of passes a quarterback completed. If your child is passionate about a sport, encourage them to explore it through math.
Play family games that help foster math skills. These include card games like Go Fish, which requires counting and sorting cards into sets, or board games like Monopoly.
To find out what your seventh-grader will be learning in math class, check out our seventh 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; and Denise Walston, Director of Mathematics, Council of the Great City Schools, and align with the Common Core State Standards.