“Mom, I don’t understand this math problem.”
Whether we’re homeschooling or not, it’s something we hear all the time as parents (what is it about math, anyway?!). And if your kids are still little and you haven’t encountered this yet, believe me, friend, your day is coming (Algebra, anyone?).
There have been several times where I’ve explained and explained a math problem to one of my kids and still I see the deer in the headlights look. Oh man, that’s frustrating (for them and for me).
Since math does not come naturally to me (at all), I do have sympathy when my kids look at me cross-eyed after staring at a math book (sigh… I was hoping they’d somehow get a math gene from a long lost genius uncle).
However, I’ve learned that there may be several reasons why kids need help with math (those that are obvious and those not-so-obvious), and I wanted to share with you some practical resources (and a whole lot of grace).
Why Is Your Child Struggling With Math?
First I ask myself, “Why is this child not getting it?”
1) Is he or she tired, distracted, have a bad attitude, or otherwise just doesn’t want to do any schoolwork?
We run into this situation time and time again in our homeschool, so this is where I go first. Often if we work on another subject for a while, take a break to play outside, or simply rest, I find that when we come back to math, the child finally understands the lesson. I’m always amazed by the power of a fresh mind (and the right attitude!).
2) Does he or she just not understand the concept (and needs extra help or another perspective on the problem)?
Math curriculums are just that—a curriculum. Even the best math curriculums cannot possibly teach every way to solve a math problem. In this situation, I break out the dry-erase board and my stash of manipulatives (such as my basic math blocks) to see if we can look at the problem differently.
But sometimes, a kid just really doesn’t get it. Really.
There have been days when I’ve pulled out all the manupulatives, creative-thinking math books, and extra math learning games that I can think of… and still we’re stuck trying to solve that algebra problem.
At this point, I think the real question here is, “Have the math issues become habitual or part of a bigger pattern?” Could a new math curriculum be in order? Are there other learning issues going on, such as dyscalculia?
Or, it may be time to call in a math tutor.
Consider Getting Online Math Help
That’s why I was excited to hear about Future School—an online tutoring resource of sorts.
Future School is a subscription-based learning system that offers help (in both math and language arts) for Kindergarten to twelfth grade.
I love that it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever extra help is needed!
Students first take a self-assessment test (based on classroom standards for that grade), and then Future School offers an individualized plan (which includes video teaching and subsequent quizzes) to help the child grasp any missing concepts. Should you or the child still have difficulty understanding the concept, the program also offers an online tutor chat feature staffed by qualified teachers.
Future School would be a great resource for those who need to make up some math skills, or for those families that need a little extra tutoring help now and then.
Take Math Problems One Day at a Time
While your child may always struggle with math (like me!), here’s my best advice: Take each situation day-by-day and even moment-by-moment.
Try to get to the root of why your child is struggling, do your best to remain calm and in control of your emotions and take it slow if need be.
Our kids are unique creations with individual talents and passions. Not every kid is going to be a math genius, and that’s OK!
Even on the roughest math days, I try to remember that my relationship with my child will always be more important than any math problem they need to learn.
Hang in there, friend! You (and I) can help our kids with math!
FTC Disclosure: I was compensated by Future School for my time in writing this piece. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review.
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