Weather Forecast


Sylvan Learning Center Center offers parents a refresher course to help with schoolwork

Amanda Harding, left, director of education at the Sylvan Learning Center in Bemidji writes a math problem on a white board for Julie Laitala of Bemidji to practice. Pioneer Photo/Anne Williams

"I don't get it. Will you help me?"

Math homework can be challenging for kids and sometimes even more so for parents, who may not have taken a math class in years.

On Feb. 2, Sylvan Learning Center in Bemidji offered "Forgotten Math," a refresher course for adults who want to help their children with math homework.

"The purpose of this seminar is to help kids get the extra help they need at home," said Sylvan's Director of Education Amanda Harding.

The refresher course covered some common math problems seen on middle school and high school homework questions, as well as some tips on how much parents should help with homework.

"I'm just not good at math," Harding said in her introduction. "This is a widely spoken misconception. Learning math takes practice. Effort is important. Confidence is the key."

Stations were set up around the room with worksheets on fractions, integers, decimals, percentages, algebraic equations, graphing and calculators for adults to practice.

Julie Laitala of Bemidji attended the course in hopes of helping her seventh-grade son, Alex, with his math homework. She also plans to go back to school soon.

Working at a pharmacy, Laitala said it is easy to ask the pharmacist when figuring mathematical problems or use a nearby calculator. But recalling algebra problems on her son's math homework is tough.

"It's been years since I've had a math class," Laitala said. "I'm doing this to try to help my son. If I don't know how to figure out the math, I can't just read the whole chapter in his book or search for the answer on Google."

Laitala said she sometimes feels as if it is becoming harder to keep up with kids who are learning more advanced math concepts at younger ages.

Sylvan's math refresher course offered parents additional resources to learn to recognize whether they are helping too little or too much with their child's homework.

While helping children with homework is beneficial to the child, it may not always be as helpful to teachers in some cases.

Some teachers use homework as a way to assess whether or not a student understands the concepts taught in class. Teachers who receive perfect homework papers from students who receive a lot of parent help don't know whether the student truly understands the material until test day.

"Sometimes, if parents help too much, students are not getting the concepts down," said Center Director Julie Johnson-Willborg.

Sylvan offers an ACT test preparation seminar in March open to juniors and seniors in high school.

"We use these seminars to reach out to families in the community who want to help students that are having difficulties in school," Johnson-Willborg said.

Adults interested in receiving a refresher course in math are encouraged by the Sylvan staff to call the Sylvan Learning Center at 759-9950.