StephenL: What tips can you share for parents trying to help their child with math during the pandemic?
Dan Finkel: It's a stressful and unusual situation for everyone, so the first thing is to take a breath. Everyone is in disarray these days, so don't expect things to go perfectly, and don't get frustrated when they don't. We all need to give ourselves space right now.
The good news is that there are some opportunities and openings for math at home. The adult to student ratio is a lot better, for instance. That means you can slow down (or speed up) and go at the right pace for your child. The main thing is to start from where things make sense. If you child doesn't know how to do something, don't feel like you need to make them understand instantly. Instead, make the problem easier, shrink the numbers, find a good visual, and start from that point where it all seems natural. Then you can slowly build back up to the original problem. But that understanding that math needs to make sense is really key.
I'd also say that there's an opportunity for playfulness and lightness. I'm a huge fan of using games to explore math—I've been sharing favorites on my Math at Home Support emails—and having games or just a spirit of playfulness surround what you're doing will help a lot.
Finally, try to stay curious. We often accept math process we don't really understand, because it gives the right answer. But you and your child deserve to understand how and why things work. It's more fun that way, and you learn it more deeply too! The more you can stay playfully curious about the math and what's happening in your child's mind, the easier everything will go.