Many good intentioned adults ignore the reality behind why their children hate math. Making math fun for your child through different activities and tasks can be a good thing. But it can also be a bandage on a bigger problem. To truly help your homeschool kid who hates math, you need to dig a little deeper. You need to determine what the real problem is and then make a master plan to address it.
Dig a Little Deeper
Math skills tend to build one on another. The “I hate math” domino effect is a slippery slope for children. Misunderstanding even one mathematical concept can cause a slew of problems for your child. Frustration with math isa real emotion and a powerful thing.
Luckily, resolving frustration with math is completely doable. By retracing your child’s mathematical history, you can identify exactly where they went astray. You can then clarify your child’s confusion and reverse their negative feelings towards math once and for all.
Of course, in the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make life easier. Here are a few solid tips that are perfect for kids who hate math. These may serve as a “mathematical bandage” but sometimes a bandage is just what a parent needs. Especially, if they help to make math a happier experience for all involved.
Use Meaningful Math Manipulatives
One way to improve your child’s feelings towards math is to use meaningful manipulatives. Find ways to take your child’s natural passions and use them for your own purposes. Manipulatives, that are meaningful to your child and pique their natural interests, are perfect for creating a warm feeling towards math.
Using a child’s interests to teach math allows for instant engagement. Engaged children are happy children even when learning something they perceive to hate. Just don’t tell them ahead of time that you are strategically helping them to like what they dislike. Before you know it, your child’s hate will lean towards love and life will once again be good.
Make It Real
There is no reason to compartmentalize math. An extra way to help children like math is by integrating it into their everyday lives.
Math is everywhere in the real world. It is an authentic part of everyday life. It is intrinsic for children to know when the math they are learning has a reason and purpose. Everyday math is real math and is also good for kids.
Through natural opportunities, children can interact with math in encouraging ways as they help cook, clean, shop, budget, and play. As adults, we should focus on the mathematical opportunities that present themselves daily. By optimizing these moments, we can help our children develop a love for math rather than hate.
It is no secret that children tend to be a mini version of their parents. As parents, we project ourselves onto those we love. One of the most basic tips for helping your child who hates math is to check your own feelings towards the subject. If math gives you anxiety, there is a good chance your children share your feelings.
Our children know how we feel about things. I swear my children are magically telepathic. They always know how I feel even when I don’t tell them! Melissa Dahl, author of How Parents Give Their Kids Math Anxiety, sums it up quite nicely: “Kids are perceptive little beings, picking up on and internalizing the attitudes of their parents, even when it comes to things like basic addition and subtraction.”
Make It a Game
Young children tend to see math as a challenging experiment. Older children, however, can be more resistant to difficult situations. As a result, encountering frustrating math problems can lead towards negative feelings. You can fight your child’s hatred of math by helping to change their mindset. An alternate perspective can be a powerful thing.
Start by comparing math to playing a video game. In a video game, the player experiments to make it to the next level. It often takes more than one try and mistakes or “death” occurs along the way. The key is remembering the mistakes made and using them as a guide to reach the next level. Step by step, players learn what to do by learning what not to do.
Through perseverance and bravery, players fail enough that they inevitably succeed. Math is no different! Each mistake is a lesson learned. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.’”–Henry Ford
A Moment in Time
Alas, don’t be scared if your homeschooler hates math. Dig a little deeper and use a mathematical bandage in the interim. A moment of childhood hate towards math need not equate to a lifetime.
About the All-Star Blogger
Paige is the mother of three creative Little Women and enjoys spending time eating chocolate, watching movies, reading for pleasure, creating educational products, and maintaining her blog. Paige has a passion for helping students develop a love of reading. She has been a faculty member at Amelia Earhart Elementary for over seven years. She is a CITES Associates member of the BYU-Public School Partnership and a member of Provo School District’s Literacy Committee. She is an award-winning educator who enjoys mentoring interns and student teachers. You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.