Tip #1 Short, Frequent Sessions Are Better
Two or three short lessons during the day are better than one long one of the same amount of total time. If, for example, your child is struggling with multiplication tables, one way you can help is by selecting one to three facts. Throughout the day review these three facts in different ways. Always come back to the same ones but then move onto the next item on the agenda. Make it like a game. Try the same thing for spelling. Students can benefit from short breaks, but also try changing activities frequently. Many times even a change from one kind of activity to another kind can provide the break that one needs. Plan your schedule so that the child concentrates well on a reading assignment for no more than fifteen to twenty minutes and then play a math game for the same amount of time. Follow the math activity with a reading or writing activity.
Tip # 2: Give Choices When Possible
One year, I home schooled a foster son who I will call John. He mastered the art of manipulation and avoidance of responsibility and SCHOOL WORK. Depending on the time of the year and John's unpredictable whims, Math was either his favorite or least favorite subject and correspondingly, best or worst. I had three or four strands of Math planned for John so I could give him a choice of which Math to do. Also, I wrote a list of all the items he needed to do that morning on the white board. He would choose what he wanted to do and erase as we went along. At one point we even had to limit Math to a "Vita-Math". I took a problem out of the book that had grown unbearable for John and wrote it on a card. I put all of these "Vita-Maths" in a container. I only required him to take one "Vita-Math" a day, but it was so fun he did several. Soon he was able to swallow a longer assignment. These simple techniques greatly reduced his reluctance and avoidance.
Tip #3: Teaching Math Facts
Learning math facts remains a huge challenge for many children. To help your child to face this challenge, isolate it from other math learning. Do not slow down learning math computation by expecting the transfer of knowing math facts automatically, though that is the ultimate goal. Throughout the day alternate between visual input and auditory input of a few selected facts. Finally, a timed fact drill can assess progress. I have students reach a goal to complete the drill in 2 minutes. After going through all of the facts, we return to do them with the goal of doing it in a 1 and ½ minute and so on to reach the age appropriate speed for those facts. Rapid Recall System of LGS Educational Services is an excellent program teaching the math facts in this way. Calculadders of The Providence Project also provide fact drills with recommended times.
Tip #4 Provide As Much Practice As Needed
Each child will need a different amount of practice on a given math concept. Just as you do not want to bore the child who learns it after doing it three times, neither do you want to go on before a child has mastered it. Saxon is known for its "spiral curriculum." After a short practice set, the main set of 25-30 problems is review. This is good for a child that learns a new idea quickly. If your child is doing well with Saxon, there is no reason to change. A Beka is a fast-moving math curriculum and is generally believed to be about a year above grade level. Bob Jones and Addison Wesley provide more practice for the child that needs more. If you have a text that does not provide enough practice, find supplementary material or make more problems yourself.
Those needing even more practice would benefit from Calculadders, and the Keys to... series (Measurement, Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Algebra, Geometry) Also, Garlic Press has a series of supplemental workbooks on different topics that are very inexpensive. Hayes Mastery Drills in Mathematics and Hayes Problem Solving also provide practice in mathematics at a low cost.