Studying for a math test can be tough for your child. They have to memorize formulas, remember rules, learn vocabulary, and identify solutions, which can leave them feeling burnt out after hours of studying. However, there are ways to help them prepare for their test without leaving them feeling strung out.
Study in Advance
This may sound obvious, but unlike other subjects, there is no way to cram the night before when studying math. By that point you either know the material or you don’t, and if you don’t, staying up late to study will simply wear you out and make things even worse, come test time.
Instead of holding off studying, make sure your child is looking over their math problems days in advance of their test. One helpful way of breaking up study time is to start three days early. Have them study their math vocabulary and formulas, then give them a few problems to figure out. On the first night, have them work for an hour, then 50 minutes the next night, and finally limit them to just 30 minutes of studying the day before the exam. You don’t want to burn them out, and with enough prep time, your child should be well prepared for their test.
Identify the Problems
It’s important to acknowledge that you can only memorize so much when it comes to math. At a certain point you have to understand the material and know how to solve it on your own. Your child should know how to solve an equation without knowing what section it comes from. Homework and lessons put things in the proper context for them, but on a test–especially if it’s a final–they need to be able to identify what needs to be done to solve each equation.
When you help your child study, discuss the equations with them to help understand what they are solving and why. Help them discover identifying characteristics for each problem. This way, when they are taking the test, they will have an easier time understanding what they need to do.
Don’t Study, Practice
We’ve talked about studying, but what your child is really doing is practicing. The only way to understand math is to do, redo, and practice solving equations. Have them rework old homework problems that they may have gotten wrong before. They can also try equations in their textbook, while covering up the solutions. Have them write out the problem and solve it step by step without looking at the answer. By revisiting old assignments and lessons, your child already has a full study guide at their disposal.
You can also turn their study sessions into practice tests by taking away their notes and books as they solve the equations. Give them a set time limit and make sure you give them a break between study time and the practice test. You don’t want them to be too familiar with their lessons or they will think they know more than they actually do. By simulating a testing environment, you can get a better understanding of what they know and don’t know.