Homework Helper: Algebra
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. OK, well, maybe not every parent, but plenty of adults cringe at the very thought of having to contend with algebra once again. You never thought you’d have to use algebra again, you thought you had escaped. But now, your kids are coming home with math homework, and they’re in need of your help.
In today’s issue of Homework Helper, Resurrection Christian School is going to give you the tools you need to help your child succeed with algebra. Learn more from our private school in Loveland, and contact RCS to look into enrollment opportunities for your elementary, middle, or high schooler today.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Algebra is actually kind of fun. Especially for kids who love doing puzzles, they’ll likely enjoy the similarities for this type of mathematical problem.
If your child has a good understanding of the basic algebraic principles, they’ll be able to build and expand on that knowledge, and likely not run into too many issues. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Solving for “x”
Your child should be able to do basic equations with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, before they get into algebra. They’re probably used to seeing problems like this:
4 x 4 = ___
Algebra is the exact same concept, but the value of x (or y, or any other variable) is replacing the blank space. It’s also keeping in mind the commutative property, which states that one side of the equal sign should be equal to the other, even if you were to switch the order around. For example, 3 + 8 = 11, just as 11 = 8 + 3.
In order to prepare your child for basic algebra, try giving them problems like this:
- 4 + 5 = x
- 19 – x = 12
- x ➗ 5 = 6
If your child is struggling with balancing out equations, our private school recommends using visuals. Blocks are tangible, and therefore easier for kids to visualize equations being equaled out. Different worksheets can also help, especially when colors are involved.
Additionally, Khan Academy is a great resource that provides free videos for kids to watch. As an adult who’s trying to remember the basics of algebra, it can also be helpful for you to watch as well, and practice with your child. As always, feel free to consult with your child’s teacher for other visual ideas or ways to help learning stick.
Mathematical properties might sound boring to some, but they’re actually pretty fascinating and can help reinforce your child’s learning. Here are some basics to remember:
- Commutative Property: As mentioned above, it states that both sides of an equation should equal each other. Your child knows the commutative property, even if not by name — any time they answer a math problem, they’re using this property.
- Associative Property: When numbers are only be added or only be multiplied, the order of numbers or the grouping (i.e. parentheses) doesn’t matter. For example, 4 + 5 + 6 = (4 + 5) + 6.
- Distributive Property: This property is all about how integers are multiplied with values within parentheses. For example, a (b + c) = (a・b) + (a ・c).
There are likely other properties that your child will go over in class, but these are some of the basics to understanding algebra.
It’s unlikely that your child (or any of us, for that matter) learn something the first time they’re exposed to it. Especially with summer coming up, it’s a good idea to get a lot of resources available for your child to continue with their studies while school’s out of session. Here are a few resources and ideas to rely upon:
- Workbooks: You can find teacher stores, or look online for workbooks that are specific to your child’s grade. Make a goal with your child of how much of the workbook they’ll complete each week or when they should have the whole book completed by.
- Online Games: Who doesn’t love playing games? Mathpower, Math-Play, and Hooda Math are all great resources.
- Talk to Teacher: Teachers are more than happy to find some additional resources to help their students outside of the classroom. Get in touch with your child’s private school teacher at RCS.
Look Into Tutoring
If you’re still struggling to help your child, it’s OK! Even the best mathematicians can sometimes struggle to explain things in a way that makes sense, and everyone has different learning styles. See if there’s any after-school tutoring available to your child at RCS, or look into hiring a tutor to help them connect the dots.
Algebra can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Our private school hopes these tips help, and that study time becomes a little bit easier.
Want more Homework Helper blogs? Visit any of our previous HH posts to help your child succeed!
- Writing Practice, Part I and Part II