# Most-Asked Math Homework Questions (Part 2)

Aug 30, 2023Have you ever found yourself ready to throw that laptop you're using to search for an explanation for how to solve your child’s math homework against the wall while thinking, *Why can’t they just multiply the normal way*? Or desperately tried to help them with their math homework while wondering if you are hurting them more than helping? If so, you are not the only one! Read on to get answers to these questions and more in Part 2 of Answers to Your Most-Asked Math Homework Questions.

**"Why does my child need to learn so many different methods to solve one type of math problem?"**

With the adoption of the Common Core Math Standards, a new era of math dawned in which students began learning new and “unconventional” ways of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Even though some states have now repealed Common Core Standards, the standards that replace them along with most math curriculums consist of objectives and lessons that teach multiple methods for solving one type of problem in addition to standard, more traditional methods. As parents try to help their students work their way through learning strategies such as how to multiply using the box method or how to divide using a quick picture or partial quotients, frustration builds because these are methods they themselves were never taught in school. This leads to one of the most common questions I get asked: Why does my child need to learn all of these other complicated ways of solving problems?

This is where my knowledge and experience as a special education teacher can help shed some light on this topic. I need you to be open-minded and hear me when I say this…..Some of the same math strategies that seem unnecessary and difficult to you, actually benefit and help many students learn and retain skills more easily. I promise you this is true because I have witnessed it myself in my classroom. Students all have different learning styles or ways of processing and learning information. It is a good thing to teach students a variety of ways of solving problems.

Ideally, in my own opinion, students should be taught and exposed to the different ways of approaching a problem, but only measured and graded on their ability to solve that problem using whatever strategy works best for them. Unfortunately, I also know that in many classrooms and even on state assessments, students are graded on and expected to know how to use multiple strategies for solving one type of problem. The reasoning is that it helps them develop a deeper knowledge of the reason *why* certain steps are necessary when using more traditional ways of solving problems such as, *Why* *the first digit of a two-digit number must be carried over when adding *or* Why a zero must be written down when moving from multiplying a digit in the ones to place to multiplying a digit in the tens place when solving multi-digit multiplication problems. *

Whether you agree or disagree, if you find yourself confused trying to help your child solve a problem using a method that seems foreign to you, we can help. Our __Math Hero Memberships for Parents__ provide you with tutorial videos and printable step-by-step guides on how to solve these problems.

**"What is the best way for me as a parent to provide support to my child with their math homework?"**

Providing help and support to your child with their math homework when they need it is extremely important. As stated in __Part I of Answers to Your Most-Asked Math Homework Questions__, many times students have little to no time in the classroom to independently practice executing the new skill they have learned, which is a crucial step in the learning process. Completing math homework gives them that opportunity. However, if they are confused, they need your help to ensure that they are solving problems the *right way. *

First, please remember to approach and maintain a positive attitude when helping them. Yes, I know that it's probably going to be late when they need help and it may take some work on your part to understand the work, but if you become visibly frazzled and let the complaints flow, the anxiety and negativity will just transfer over to your child’s attitude about math. Remember that it's ok, good even, for them to see that you don't immediately know how to solve a problem either as long as you follow it up with taking actionable steps to learn.

In my opinion, the best teaching strategy to implement once you know what you are doing is *explicit teaching, *commonly remembered by teachers as *I do it, WE do it, You do it*. It’s simple and it works. First, slowly model for your child how to solve a problem. This means you are holding the pencil and doing the work explaining it as best as you can as you go along. Next, grab an extra pencil for them and solve another problem together side by side while talking the steps out with one another. After that, put your pencil down and let them do all the writing solving another problem, but remain with them providing guidance and support as needed. Finally, let them take a stab at it on their own and solve a problem independently. Of course, don’t expect miracles the first time through this process. If they are still struggling, you can repeat the whole process, spending more or less time in one of the stages of the explicit teaching process as needed.

**"Why does my child have to show their work if they can solve the problem in their head?"**

The answer to this question seems obvious to me, but it still comes up again and again. As teachers, we need to know that they didn’t use a calculator of course! And yes, I understand that there are math minded kids out there who really can work problems in their heads and arrive at correct answers, but as they progress through math in school and problems become much more complex, it becomes very difficult to do so without error. It’s important for students to develop habits early of neatly and correctly copying down problems, keeping numbers aligned and writing down each step of the process so that when they do get to higher level algebraic expressions and equations, they are ready.

I’ll add to this that I highly recommend that students DO use calculators to check their work so that they become familiar with and comfortable using them. In addition to calculators being such a big part of real life, as they get older they will be allowed to use them in school and on parts of big assessments.

As a parent, supporting and encouraging your child with their math homework can make a world of difference. And don't forget, our __Math Hero Memberships for Parents__ are here to provide you with the tools and resources you need to tackle those tricky math homework challenges. Equipped with tutorial videos and step-by-step guides, you can help them navigate through math this year with confidence.

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