Math Worksheets – Ineffective ways to use them

Are there ineffective ways of using Math Worksheets.

Do you use math workbooks or worksheets to supplement your child’s math learning at home? Math worksheets are essential to develop math skills. They can take a student from learning to mastery, from slow thoughtful application to speedy execution, turn new math muscles into solid math skills – IF employed effectively.

Math worksheets and work books can be purchased online, and retail stores like Walmart and Costco. That’s the easiest part. I’ve seen many well-meaning parents invest in the time and money to purchase these math workbooks then wonder why the idea stalled or abort within a few pages into the workbooks. There are millions of unused or unfinished math workbooks collecting dust in our homes. Why does that happen?

These are the mistakes to avoid when using math workbooks with your children:

Mistake #1. Not finding out your child’s math level before you purchase the math workbook or worksheets. Don’t simply go by the grade number on the workbook. These workbooks are sold nationwide and you know that the range of math curriculum and competency expectations vary widely from state to state. Instead: Have a math conversation with your child. If need be, talk to teachers, parents to have a good understanding what math topics the student should have. Then with a combination of oral and written questions, assess what the child knows and what the gaps are with respect to what’s expected of him. For example, if you have a 4th grader who is ahead, getting him a 4th Grade workbook, and repeating topics he already knows (in fact, he wishes his math teacher would go faster) is not only boring and a waste of time for the child, it will douse his interest and excitement about math. on the other hand, a 4th grader who’s been struggling for a few months, may need a 3rd grade workbook to catch up on the gaps and boost his number sense.

Mistake #2: Going through the workbook sequentially page by page. The goal of assessing the student is not to find a starting point, but to find gaps. Here’s the difference. 2 students may be at the same math competency level in terms of his grade, but if you probe deeper, you will find that one child could use more practice on fractions, another child didn’t get Percent. When you think “gaps” instead of “starting point”, it’s very clear that going through a workbook page by page sequentially is not as effective as jumping around, focusing, on topics that will address the student’s weak areas, and spending much less time on topics that the student already mastered.

Mistake #3: Expecting the worksheets to do all the instruction. Some worksheets are intended to develop a student’s mastery and speed. But some of the worksheets may be new concepts, or a new way of looking at something that didn’t click with the child the way it was explained in the classroom. It’s a mistake to expect the worksheets to do 100% of the instruction. Expect to spend time with your child explaining, clarifying, giving examples, and correcting erroneous thinking/understanding.

Mistake #4: Not validating to see if the effort’s making a difference. It’s easy to gain a false sense of assurance that if the student’s putting in the time, then he must be improving. Instead, validate the results. Talk to his math teacher, study his quizzes, why he responds the way he does, how’s his MCAS? Have math conversations with him to, math is verbal and visual, it’s not just paper and pencil. What are you looking for? You’re looking for grade improvement as well as his attitude and confidence in math. There’s no validation like a child saying, “Hey, Mom, math just seems to make so much more sense now. ”

Mistake #5: Not realizing the importance of Fun, Encouragement, Consistency in the whole process. We know consistency produces results. If you want consistent effort from your child, the experience must be fun, and encouraging to him. Scolding, threats, witholding privileges, timing out a child until he finishes his worksheet creates a stressful and conflict-ridden environment that is not sustainable. In fact, this is often the #1 reason parents bring their children to our Math Learning center. Aside our center being a fun, kid-friendly environment, we don’t have the parent-child tension that gets in the way of nurturing the child’s love for math.

Math worksheets and math workbooks are just tools. The way they are implemented is often more important than the worksheets themselves. Don’t make any of the 5 mistakes above, and your child will be making good progress boosting her math skills.

About Roger


2 Responses to “Math Worksheets – Ineffective ways to use them”
  1. Math-Aids.Com is a free resource for teachers and parents. You can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for children, the classroom or homework practice. The answer key is included with each math worksheet as it is created. The worksheets are randomly generated so when you request one it will be different every time. Each math topic has several different types of math problems so you may choose which area to focus on in that subject.

    I have built a special section just for Multiplication Math Topics.
    These topics include Times Tables, Single and Multiple Digit Multiplication, Missing Factor, Decimal and Negative Number Multiplication Worksheets.

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    Multiplication Worksheets

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  1. [...] •    Practice math daily. Measure items around the house or yard. Track daily temperatures. Add and subtract at the grocery store. Learn fractions while cooking.  Or grab a Math exercise book from Costco or your local book store.  Read about effective and ineffective ways to use math worksheets. [...]

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