As a private maths tutor, I often get asked by parents, “How can I support my child with their maths homework without doing it for them?”

In the short-term, the best thing you can do, is to read through it first to make sure you understand it yourself, and then break the problem down into a serious of questions like this:

What’s the first thing you need to work out?

Which operation (ie + – x or ÷) do you need to use?

If your child is unsure, you may need to ask supplementary questions:

Will the answer you get be bigger or smaller than the numbers used in the question?

Which two operations will give you a bigger/smaller number? (If necessary, try both of these to see which answer looks more sensible)

What’s the second thing you need to work out?

Which operation (ie + – x or ÷) do you need to use?

What’s the third thing you need to work out?

How can you use the answers from the first two steps to help you?

In this way, you are helping your child to see that there are lots of small steps to be taken before the final answer can be worked out, but they still need to do the work for themselves. Think about it like a building job – the scaffolders always come first so that the builders have a safe environment to work in, but they still have to carry out the building work themselves. My worksheets for breaking down word problems into simple steps is available for download from my free resources page.

In the long-term, make sure that your child is confident with everyday maths such as times tables, and number bonds as this will help them in the rest of their work.

If you live in north Birmingham (Great Barr, Hamstead, Kingstanding, Pheasey, Streetly, Sutton) and would like to book a private maths tutor for your child, you can contact me via my website.

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