Whenever possible, I teach math concepts and drill math facts via games and puzzles. They’re fun, which means kids are more likely to stick with them, which means there’ll be a lot of repetition, which is critical. Once a child gets a concept, she needs multiple chances to apply it to really solidify it. Memorizing facts requires even more repetition—but why stick to dull old flash cards when there are hundreds of games out there that serve the same purpose?   Students and I play dice games, card games, spinner games, active games, musical games, online games, etc. If a game is a winner, we keep coming back to it.

If your youngster struggles with math, it may be that he is missing basic concepts, such as conservation of number, place value, multiplication as repeated addition, or division as equal sharing. I assess your child to see which concepts are strong and which are underdeveloped. We get at the latter via work with manipulatives (small objects), drawing, writing, and discussion. Once she “gets it,” it’s on to the games!

If word problems are the challenge, we focus initially on the typical language of such problems and how to decode it, i.e., figure out what’s being asked for. Then we go over the various types of solution approaches and how to pick approaches to try (Should we make a chart? Guess-and-check? Make an organized list?) With practice, these problems become more familiar and easier to tackle.