Teach your child to love math, even if you don't

Sep 14, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Don't be ashamed to admit it — the last time you did your times-tables without your trusty iPhone calculator was when you were in elementary school.

Now, with your child heading into a new school year, you're the one having anxiety over remembering how to carry the one and do long division! It's time to channel your inner-mommy math geek, even if the thought of fractions makes you want to hide under the kitchen table. Don't you dare hide your iPhone under there — no cheating allowed!

Mommy math geek tip #1: Befriend your child's teacher

The first thing a math geek mommy does? Find out what's going on in the classroom, math-wise. While you don't have to admit that you and math aren't BFFs, making a connection with your future rocket scientist's teacher will get you pretty far in helping your child. Ask if she has an answer book you can make copies of or if she's using a specific math method in the classroom so that you can study up before you're stumped. Plus, as with anything, the more you communicate with your child's teacher about how your kiddo is doing in class, the better.

Mommy math geek tip #2: Google it

Now that you have the inside math scoop from your child's teacher, get online and do some research to figure out all of those terms that she was chatting about. Lattice method of multiplication? Partial products method? Chunking method of division? You can find it all. And believe it or not, YouTube can be your biggest helper there are videos that break down every type of math method out there, in easy-to-follow steps.

Mommy math geek tip #3: Do some pre-homework homework

While you thought that you had left the days of doing homework in the past, now that you have a child in school, it's time to hit the books again! A lot of the frustration parents can find in teaching their child math is that they get flustered in the process because they are trying to learn how to do the problems alongside their child. Instead, work through your child's homework on your own before you sit down to help him with it. Yes, that's time-consuming and yes, you hate math, but it is certain to result in a better learning environment for your child if you are confident in assisting him.

Mommy math geek tip #4: A math-friendly home

Now we're going to start sounding like a teacher, but you'll have to admit that it's true math is everywhere! And when you start to look for math in your everyday lives, it can be a fantastic and easy way to instill a love of math in your child. Start by subscribing to the free daily math problems from Bedtime Math. Started by a mom who engaged her kids in math by giving them a math problem at bedtime each night, Bedtime Math is meant to be low-pressure and — gasp fun! Think about the other ways you can work on math with your child keeping track of the grocery bill as you add things to the cart, adding fractions when doubling a recipe for dinner or simply counting how many pieces of clothing can fit in the washing machine.

Mommy math geek tip #5: Wave the white flag

You may immerse yourself so far into the world of mommy math geek that you even start wearing those thick, fake plastic-rimmed glasses that are super cool right now, but you still may not be able to fall in love with division signs enough to help your child. Sometimes, the best thing parents can do is to recognize when they need to outsource. If you feel like your child needs more help with his math than he's getting in the classroom and that you are not making any progress, seek out a professional tutor. One who truly is a math geek!

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