As a teacher, it’s always easy to see which students have mastered a concept ahead of others – they are the ones teaching their peers how to understand and answer a problem. They are often quite animated and excited, and rightly so, because they are proud that they have understood a concept and can help others understand it too. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of mastering some knowledge and having the opportunity to help someone else understand it too, and all during the same lesson.

It was this feeling that really sparked my interest in becoming a Mathematics teacher. In one of my maths classes in my final year of high school, I helped quite a few of my peers understand and successfully use discrete and continuous random variables. It was quite a confusing topic and I loved being able to break it down so my friends could understand it all. The look of “Oh! I get it!” in their eyes made me feel so good. It was then that I realised that teaching really might be for me – it would be great to feel like that everyday!

Your kids might not experience this feeling as often as they should. To help your kids feel this way and develop a love for maths all at the same time, get them to teach you something each week at home.

Try some of the following strategies to flip homework in your household:

  1. When your child is stuck on a question, ask them to show you how some of the easier ones work so that you can figure out the more difficult ones together.

  2. Ask your older child to help you and their younger sibling with some maths homework. If you have one handy, ask them to show you on a whiteboard how to do the calculation. Asking them questions while they show you will really help them learn to explain their reasoning.

  3. Once a week, as they’re working on some maths homework, ask them to give you a few problems to try. Sit together and compare answers, asking them to show you how they have worked them out.

  4. Instead of just telling your child to revise for a maths test, ask them to create a 10 question test for you covering all the topics. After you’ve sat the test have them mark it and then sit with you to explain how to do any questions you might have got wrong. Creating a test of questions is a higher order skill that will help your child develop great mastery.

  5. When it’s been a busy afternoon and evening and there’s not much time left for homework, ask your child what work they were set and then choose two of the more difficult questions. Ask them to work on these two questions and then explain them to you clearly once they are done.

  6. Organise a study group with a small group of your child’s peers. Hold a session at your house and encourage the kids to help teach each other the concepts.

  7. Have an older sibling create a maths activity to do with their younger sibling. It might be a simple worksheet or a fun game, but there is no doubt that they will both get a lot out of the experience.

  8. Every school holidays, a day or two before school goes back, ask your child to teach you ten concepts from last term, one concept from each of week of their classwork. This is a great way for them to revise what they learnt last term and will get their minds back in gear for the new term.

Having your child teach you what they are learning is a very engaging way for them to approach their school work. If you are also interested and involved in their learning, they will be all the more motivated to work hard and succeed. Allowing them the opportunity to explain concepts to you will not only improve their ability to communicate their understanding, but will also foster a real mastery of their knowledge.

Above all though, that moment when they see the “Oh! I get it!” in your eyes and they realise they really taught you something, that will be a proud and exhilarating moment for you both.

Photo credit: James Jordan / Foter / CC BY-NC