Elementary School Children Don't Get Enough Math Practice at Home
By: edHelper Staff
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Purposeful Math Practice with Plenty of Time for Fun
Start with a plan to do 15-45 minutes of math practice each week. Turn off electronics during this time and find a quiet place where children can work and where you can see them working. This is going to be hard at first, but once you get into a routine, it will become easier.
Print this plan and put it on your refrigerator to remind all the little ones in your family of the expectations for extra math practice.
Math Homework and Extra Practice
Kids should first be expected to do their math homework. Many teachers only give a page of math in the first or second grades with a few more pages as the students reach third, fourth, or fifth grade. These materials often review the math lessons in the classroom, so they will be more challenging for your kids. That's great, but don't stop there! Once kids finish their homework, it is time for some extra math practice so they can become true math masters. Don't worry; there will still be plenty of time to play. The idea is to try to add an extra 5 or 10 minutes. By doing this when kids are in the younger elementary grades, you will be setting them up to make their later math learning lessons so much easier to achieve. You don't have to be a tiger mom to put your child on the road for math success.
Do this by printing some of these free math review pages. These worksheets are updated each month, so you will always have extra materials to practice.
Make Math Practice a Priority
Practice doesn't necessarily make perfect, but it does make permanent. Math, in particular, is a subject where purposeful practice can lead to sharpened skills and increased academic success. The key, however, is to make sure that the time spent practicing is time well spent. While several websites offer enticing games, links, and proposed solutions, offline printed practice sheets are quite possibly the best option for strengthening skills. When your children sharpen their math skills using skillfully crafted and varied worksheets, they are able to think critically and solve problems in various ways rather than simply hunt-and-peck coupled with click-and-guess online using digital resources.
But Not Too Much Practice
Don't worry; we're not suggesting that children spend hours each day glued to a chair with a pencil in hand, working their way through workbook after workbook. A traditional math period when children are in school is only 45-60 minutes. If your child spends between 15 and 45 minutes on math practice pages each day, he or she will quickly develop more procedural fluency. Why is this important? When your child is able to quickly solve simple math problems, they free up their mind for more complex thinking and difficult math problems. This type of daily practice is especially important for younger students or those who may struggle with math. Often times, there are underlying issues that make math seem complicated. Well-designed math practice can not only help with these important math skills but also help with working memory and with the development of math language. Research supports what educators have known for years: students who have a chance to practice skills make greater academic gains. This is especially important now in this season of distance/remote learning.
Weekly Math Practice Books
Make Math Practice Fun and then Make Time for Fun and Games
It may go without saying, but some children just don't like doing schoolwork. They groan at the idea of more worksheets, more flashcards, and more writing assignments. For these kids, the traditional drill-and-kill worksheets will do little but solidify their belief that school and learning are boring. Thankfully, that's not the type of math practice we are suggesting. Check out these math puzzle workbooks instead. These are the type of math practice pages that will keep your child engaged and allow them to sharpen their skills while learning at home.
Set a daily math goal for your child. If you want them to commit to 45 minutes of math practice each day, why not break that up into three fifteen-minute blocks? After each math session, allow them to have a break for a game, art, movement, reading, or relaxation. You could also ask your child how they prefer to tackle their math each day. Collectively reach an agreement about your daily expectations. If the goal is for him or her to complete a certain number of pages or work for a certain length of time, what is your child's plan for accomplishing that task? What activity will they look forward to once their math work is completed?
When you talk about math practice, be careful not to speak of it as the dreaded part of the day-the part that has to happen before anything fun can be done. Instead, speak of it as simply another part of their daily routine. Parents carry a lot of power when it comes to setting the tone for learning. If your children hear you begging, pleading, and demanding that they finish these worksheets, you may inadvertently be setting yourself up for a math battle (and not the fun kind that involves a deck of cards!). Besides, these math sheets are so creative that many children will get lost in completing them without even realizing they are practicing!
Remember, even in math, less is sometimes more. Fifteen to forty-five minutes of quality math practice each day will truly help your children develop critical skills. This still leaves more than twenty-three other hours in the day for fun and games (and maybe, if you're lucky, a good night's sleep!).