It’s 8:15 p.m. on a Tuesday evening. Your high school son is sitting at the kitchen table. Swear words are getting louder as are the dramatic sighs and shuffling of the papers on the table.
You go through your parental decision making process … Do I say something about the inappropriate words flying out of his mouth…? Then you notice the algebra textbook in front of him and that he looks like he is about to have a nervous breakdown.
You quickly assess your own math skills. You notice it’s now 8:40 p.m. and say to yourself, “Blank it. I don’t know that blank either.” His blank is on his own.”
There is a lot of research coming out about the connection between a parents’ view of math and their ability to do it and the achievement levels of their kids. You can read about it here and here. In other words, kids who struggle with math likely have parents that struggled with math.
And it’s not just a genetic thing. It’s parents’ musings in front of the kids about their struggles with math that children hear and believe they too will struggle with the subject.
As a Learning Specialist with Engage the Brain, I find myself having to monitor my own conversations when I work with students on high school level math. Math was not my strong subject, but I am trying hard to reframe my thinking and attitude toward the subject.
I now attempt to frame math as a challenge. I might say to a reluctant math student, “Okay. We know two things and we need to find the third piece of information. How can we organize our information to help us determine the missing number?”
But what happens when me and my positive math-attitude get stuck and I still cannot find the answer?
I turn to technology. And so can you!
The answer, and an explanation, is just an app away. The saying, “There’s an app for that” even applies to Algebra and higher-level math.
Engage the Brain researched math apps that go beyond practicing skills and playing games. While there is a time and place for those, the following math apps actually solve an algebra problem for you. And show you how to do!
The words ‘brilliant’ and ‘genius’ get thrown around too often, but the adjectives apply for this app. You simply point your phone’s camera at the problem in the textbook, take a picture, and the app solves the problem. And it provides a step-by-step explanation of how to solve the problem.
FX Algebra Solver Free
This apps works like a search engine. You type in a math problem and it calculates the answer. It shows step-by-step instructions on how to solve it. It can explain pre-algebra, algebra and algebra 2 level problems.
Mathway Math Problem Solver Free with in app purchases available
Mathway takes solving those pesky math problems a step further. On the dashboard you select the math class your child is enrolled in: pre algebra, algebra, geometry, etc. Next, there is a selection of math problem templates from which to choose. For example, if the problem looks like this: y = ½ x + 4 select the template that looks similar. Just plug in the numbers, and the problem is solved!
Have you bought your child a graphing calculator? Were you as floored as I was when you saw the price? Unfortunately that is one of the prices of being a parent with a child in high school. But as they say on late night television…
Wait! There is more…
Now your child can download a free graphing calculator right to his smartphone. It performs all the same functions as the expensive ones including: square root, cubed root, unit conversion, and even constants for scientific calculations such as the speed of light and the strength of gravity. Impressive stuff!
Wrapping it up
Parents can unwittingly affect their child’s performance in higher-level math classes by proclaiming their struggles with the subject when they were in school. The research is clear that children need to hear positive reinforcement and that their math destiny is not sealed by their mom or dad’s inadequacies with the subject.
When those inevitable math struggles come up during homework, now you can offer your child a tool to help in the form of a math app. By taking a picture of a math problem or entering it into a search bar, the app does all the heavy lifting by calculating the answer AND showing the steps to solve it. Turn yourself from a negative math ninny into a problem solving 21st Century parent by downloading one of these math apps.
David Karch (Learning Specialist with Engage the Brain)