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There are a million and one reasons why a student might dislike math - it’s hard, they don’t understand what’s going on, and it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth their time; just to name a few. However, adults all seem to agree that “math is important” and “well, you’ll need it when you get a job, y’know?” So what's the disconnection between how kids often feel and what adults all know?
We all know that something being challenging doesn’t mean we should give up on it! You’ve probably seen your kids spend hours playing a single level of a video game over and over again until they beat it. That level was hard, but they kept trying until they could solve it. So why not use that same tenacity to solve their math homework?
The good news is that you don't have to sit idly by and hope your child develops of love for math. There are steps you can take at home starting today to help grow and maintain a positive math mindset. Before you know it, you'll see your child becoming more confident in their math education and in their life!
By using math language in everyday conversations, you’re making math more “real” to your child. They know that you always break a candy bar in order to share it - but do they know that you’re breaking it in half so each of you get the same amount? Intellectually it seems obvious that 10 is more than 1, but in context how much more is it? Having 10 grains of rice instead of 1 doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a recent grocery-ordering snafu where we received 10 pounds of apples instead of 1 has left my family thoroughly sick of the fruit in question. For those of you with older children, consider including them in your budgeting and financial planning so they can see practical aspects of math on the “adult level” as well.
It’s also important to resist talking negatively about math. It’s easy to commiserate with your child when they’re struggling with a certain math topic by telling them “I wasn’t any good at that either,” however it's been shown that children internalize those types of messages and in turn feel that they can’t learn a topic because their parents never did. Instead, consider using language such as “let’s figure it out together” or “you know, I don’t remember how to do that but I’ll bet we can find someone to help us out.”
It can be hard to pinpoint the reasons why your child is frustrated with math - and you shouldn't have to face this challenge alone. A math education expert can help you identify whether your child is being sufficiently challenged in math class, and build a learning plan to address their specific needs.
Mathnasium offers a risk-free Math Skills Assessment to all students in grades K-12 completely free of charge. This assessment identifies any gaps in your child’s mathematical foundation and pinpoint areas where they could use some more practice. If your child is bored in math and looking for an extra challenge, our team is able to offer suggestions for what topics they should focus on next!
Just kidding, we know what Step 3 is. Step 3 is patience! Keep reinforcing your work from the first 2 steps, and you'll start to see improvements soon!
As a parent, nothing is better than seeing your child develop confidence in their abilities, whether they're working on math, art, or anything else. Take the time to celebrate their accomplishments -- and don't fall back into bad habits! Continue to use math in everyday conversations, speak positively about math, and work with your child's teacher, Mathnasium instruction team, and/or anyone else involved in their math education.