News from Mathnasium of Stapleton
Jun 12, 2019
When you ask the question “how do you feel about math?” to adults, you generally get a response of like or dislike. Some adults speak very positively of math, either because they used to be “good” at it going through school, or because they use it all the time in their career. However, many will laugh, make noises and give looks that can melt popsicles. This is because many adults have grown up not liking math. The thing is, many of the adults are becoming parents and now they’re experiencing math all over again through their kids.
Adults who become parents then sometimes drag their dislike for math into their attitude, which can affect their child’s attitude toward math. Sound familiar? It’s easy to perpetuate the cycle of “I was always bad at math” or “math just isn’t for me” if you are a parent who doesn’t like math and didn’t excel in it when you were younger. However if you’re your child is who suffers from math anxiety and you have labeled yourself as someone who is just not good at math, you might be passing your negative math vibes onto your child! Talking about your level of dislike of math with your child listening child can not only increase your child’s bad attitude toward it, it can lower their success and confidence when it comes to the subject.
How do you break this cycle? You must first address and adjust your negative feelings toward math before addressing your child’s troubles. Reducing negativity regarding math won’t necessarily change how you feel about it, but it is the first step in helping your child overcome their fear of math. Here are a few tips for ways to speak more positively about math.
Try This: Speaking positively about your child’s teacher and their ability to teach the curriculum and encouraging your child to develop a good, trusting relationship with their teacher.
Instead of This: Probing your child for ways that their teachers aren’t meeting their needs and questioning their teachers’ methodologies and curriculum in front of you child.
Kids can also easily be timid around adult authority figures. Fostering a positive relationship will help your child open up to their teacher and help them see that their teacher is a campion in their corner. Once kids realize that teachers are on their team, they will be able to learn more effectively.
Additionally, many teachers and schools adopt new methods of teaching, as the development of US education continues to shift. Despite that the concepts are still the same, the way your child is taught math may be very different than the way that you were taught it, especially for middle school and high school. They may be asked to solve different pieces of a problem that they’re working on in a group and they may be asked to show their work more regularly. Know that your child’s teacher isn’t asking for this to only create busy work. They may be helping them prep for the next quiz or test or they may want to make sure children fully understand the concepts and aren’t just quickly memorizing. Regardless, they’re job is to educate your child, not see them struggle. They are on their side!
Try This: Digging deeper to try and see if your child isn’t understanding entire concepts and chapters of math.
Instead of This: Focusing only on the frustration they have with their current assignment.
Understanding where your child might have skill gaps is something that is worthy of talking with their teacher about, especially if you suspect it by homework avoidance or frustration. Math, like a building a house, requires a foundation for it to stand tall. When a skill is missing, it can be like chunks of a foundation that’s missing from the bottom of a house. The house might stand might continue to stand, but it’s a bit unstable and can’t stand up to much, and at some point it all might come crashing down. If most concepts aren’t fully understood in math before moving onto the next chapter or level, it can add up to your child feeling very behind and confused. With your help and patience, your child can learn to build a strong math base, but it takes a consistent effort. It then might be necessary to relearn or reinforce previous concepts before moving onto the next chapter. That might mean a little extra work with parts and concepts that are sticky.
Try This: Making math fun by doing it together.
Instead of This: Saying “I was never really good at math, so I don’t do it anymore.”
The reality is, even if you don’t consider yourself a math lover and don’t think you regularly use it – you can’t completely avoid math as an adult! Math is in so much that adults and children do daily, starting with counting. Everything from the amount of forks needed at dinner, to the amount of ducks that are outside in a pond, to the amount of avocados you bought from the store can be counted in front of and with your child. There are also many math games that are outside of the common ones that get more attention. They are off the beaten path and practice all sorts of math skills like memory, rotation, critical thinking, pattern recognition, estimation, algorithmic expression and computational thinking. Click here to read more about some of our game suggestions that are well worth trying together. Reading, taking trips, cooking and baking are also other great to ways to practice math while having fun.
Math may come a little more naturally to some vs. others, depending on the way it’s taught, but math is for everyone. There just needs to be ample time and instruction to learn it. A negative attitude toward anything that is a struggle creates barriers. A positive attitude helps your child remain optimistic about their future relationship with math. Giving your child the right support and encouragement will boost their confidence and help them recognize that math is for them!
If you are a point where your child needs more help than you can provide, we would love to help you at Mathnasium of Stapleton! We specialize in creative, effective ways to teach math and works with your family’s schedule and we offer summer programs that focus on multiplication, long division, fractions, algebra and more. We help instill math confidence in kids, while having fun.