So your kid needs some help with her math homework. Do you understand what she’s doing? Chances are, it’s not so cut and dry these days — and not because you don’t remember your middle school math lessons. Two things are going on in math ed: 1) concepts and processes are being taught differently, and 2) kids are getting more complex lessons earlier on.

All of this may leave you feeling completely helpless.

Luckily, there are some great resources out there that are there just to help you. Here are my top five.

Your child’s teacher

This is a really obvious idea, but not everyone thinks of it right away. Or maybe, like a lot of parents, you feel intimidated by the teacher or you don’t know how to ask for help. There are exceptions to the rule, but most teachers are eager to speak with parents, not only about their kids’ progress but about the best ways to help their child succeed. Find out how he or she prefers to communicate — email, phone or in person. Then use that resource as much as you possibly can.

Online textbook resources

Do you know what curriculum your child is using in math class? If not, find out, because today publishers are putting a wide-range of resources online — just for parents. This is especially true for discovery-based math programs, like Everyday Math and Investigations. The publishers of these programs know that they’re challenging for parents to grasp (since we learned very different ways of doing the math), so they’ve included very strong parent components.

math.com

This really simple website offers quick reviews of basic math ideas. Forgotten what a GCF is? You can find out here. Don’t remember how to solve for x in a proportion? This is a great place to start. Math.com also includes lists of formulas and some basic online tools, like a scientific calculator.

Purplemath

Focused entirely on algebra, purplemath is where you can find help with solving quadratic equationsor graphing linear equalities. Each concept includes a detailed lesson that walks you through the process and examples. Believe me, it’s been an invaluable tool for my addled brain!

The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math has been around since 1992, so the site has amassed a wealth of questions from math students and answers from real-live math professors. Because it is generally focused on pedagogy (the concepts behind teaching mathematics) and higher-level math, it may seem a bit overwhelming. But if you search the archive, it is likely someone has asked the very question you have. You can also submit your own questions. But don’t expect an immediate response. This site is not designed for quick, individual feedback.

So there you have it, my top five resources for parents with math questions. Got any others to share? If so please include them in the comments section. Sometimes we need all the help we can get!

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