Tips for Helping Your Child Master Math, Including Fun Ways You Can Learn Together


few weeks back, I was volunteering in a 4th grade classroom. The teacher asked me if I would help a few students with their long division. I sat down with two of the students and set to work, only to discover that my mastered skill of the algorithm, the step-by-step method for long division that we were taught in grade school, was of little use. Today’s students are being taught a variety of approaches to solve problems, including new methods.

With this experience, I reached out to educators and asked what they would like parents to know about math in today’s schools. Jerry Walker, principal of Lassen View Elementary School in Los Molinos, shared, “In kindergarten through 3rd grade, the students are being taught there are different ways of building numbers, building the foundation for a deeper conceptual understanding of math for 4th grade on up.”

Jerika Hutchinson, a student in the teacher-preparation program at Simpson University, helps at Edith Fisher’s kindergarten class at Boulder Creek Elementary School in Redding, where she learned this math activity that parents can do at home with their kids: “Choose a number, for example ‘six,’ and ask your child ‘What is one less?’, ‘What is one more?’ and ‘Show me two ways to make the number six.’ Then let your child choose a number and ask you questions.” This is an example of “building numbers.”

Learning math can be fun in the classroom and at home, as author Truely demonstrates with students in Edith Fisher's kindergarten classroom at Boulder Creek Elementary School.

Learning math can be fun in the classroom and at home, as author Truely demonstrates with students in Edith Fisher’s kindergarten classroom at Boulder Creek Elementary School.

In a visit with 4th grade teacher Susan Callaghan of Etna Elementary School, Susan taught me a simple dice game called “Stars and Circles”: Roll one dice. If it lands on three, say “three” and draw three large circles. Roll the dice again. If it lands on four, say “four,” and draw four stars inside each circle. Then multiply three times four. “This game provides a picture that allows the student to see and explain why three times four equals twelve. The child might respond with, ‘three groups of four,’ or ‘four plus four plus four equals twelve,’ or another approach. This is what conceptual learning is,” Susan explains.

There are abundant resources available to support your child’s learning. Jenni Bachmyer, principal of Los Molinos Elementary School, is in the process of scheduling a math night with a focus on how parents can help their children with math homework.

      Principal Walker also suggested a free online tutoring service called “Brainfuse” that is available through county libraries. It offers homework help from online tutors and a 24-hour writing lab where students can submit a writing assignment and get constructive feedback. Brainfuse is accessible free with a library card.

Some of my favorite resources I use when tutoring students in math include the Splash Math app for grades K-5 ( Sylvan Learning’s K-5th grade Math Games and Puzzles workbook series is very good for skill practice, and The Measured Mom educational website ( offers teachers and parents thoughtful articles and free printables, including a wealth of fun and engaging math activities for young children.

For grades 7-12, the Desmos graphing calculator is available free online or as an app, and offers math activities too ( If you are in need of a graphing calculator, I suggest the TI-Naspire CS Graphing Calculator, as it is intuitive and is approved for use with AP, SAT, and ACT tests.

To take a peek into today’s classrooms from the comfort of your home, watch these videos online: “Beyond Fingers: Place Value and the Numbers 11-19” found at; and the video series found on WGRZ’s Homework Helper: Math Tips for Common Core webpage at

I have learned a great deal over the last few weeks and look forward to helping children in new exciting ways. Helping your child with math can be a fun challenge for you too!  

Truely Hutchinson
About Truely Hutchinson

Truely Hutchinson has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and an elementary teaching credential. She lives in Mt. Shasta and has 20 years of experience teaching at elementary school and college levels.


  1. WGRZ’s Homework Helper: Math Tips for Common Core Link

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