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Struggling with math? Family survival guide for algebra and geometry

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 5:56 a.m. MDT

The struggle to finish tough math homework can be a bugaboo for students and their parents. Don't despair, though. Help is available. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The struggle to finish tough math homework can be a bugaboo for students and their parents. Don't despair, though. Help is available. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Struggling through math homework can be a misery for kids and their parents. That frustration often intensifies when studying difficult math concepts in junior high and high school. Parents deserve forgiveness for having foggy memories of the math concepts they learned decades ago. But that doesn't stop them from feeling left behind and unable to help their children.

There is no need for despair, though — help is available.

Most of today's math textbook publishers sponsor websites that furnish helps for parents and students. These typically include chapter-by-chapter explanations of math concepts, along with problem demonstrations, glossaries, videos and more. See the Pearson Prentice Hall mathematics site at www.phschool.com. See Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Education Place at www.eduplace.com. Doing a Web search using the name of your math textbook's publisher should locate more helpful resources.

There are many online sites that offer supplemental video instruction in math, broken into bite-size pieces. Khan Academy is the best-known of these. Another good one is Algebra.com.

The Wolfram Alpha site is every math student's dream. Students can type in their questions and get the answers. Parents might want to supervise to ensure that students don't use the site to copy answers without working problems. But Wolfram Alpha provides a great way to check whether the answers students work out are correct, and to see methods for attacking specific problems.

Sometimes, families overlook opportunities for help within their school systems. Ask whether your school offers after-school help sessions. (Sometimes these are targeted toward at-risk students.)

Many school districts offer summer academies for students who failed math classes. These can get kids back on track toward completing their math requirements in time for graduation.

Private tutoring companies abound, but many are expensive. Families would do well to ask neighbors if they know of a math-gifted high school or college student willing to provide tutoring sessions for a bargain price. School math departments sometimes keep track of people in their area who do private tutoring.

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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