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Homeschooling the Child Who Hates Math

Your child breezes through spelling, social studies, and art, but when it comes to math, your child's attitude quickly sours. This can result in anxiety, acting out, struggles and outright refusal to do a lesson – a situation we have all been in. Additionally, many of us are intimidated by math ourselves, which can add to overall frustration with the subject. This doesn't have to be the case! Math utilizes logical skills and creativity, and your child can grow to enjoy it regardless of the initial level of interest.

Numerous studies have suggested that students learn math best in a supportive learning environment, that includes:
 

January 29, 2009
 

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  • practice problems with explanations that break down challenges
  • flexibility to review previous math exercises, or move on to new exercises
  • encouragement
  • assessment / feedback
As parents and teachers, we hope to help our children understand how they will use math in their everyday lives. How then, do we get past our nightmarish math memories so that we too can overcome the hesitations and learn to enjoy math along with our children?  

Here are some suggestions on how you can overcome your own math phobias in order to help your children discover the joy of mathematics;

1. Don't let your fear of math come across to your kids.
Parents must be careful not to perpetuate the mathematical myth - that math is only for "math types." Try not to make comments like, I don't like math" or "I have never been good at math." When children hear comments like these from their primary teacher, they begin to dread math before giving it a chance. It is important to encourage your children to explore the rich world of mathematics without imparting negative biases.

2. Don't immediately associate math with computation.
It is very important to realize that math is not just numbers and computations, but a realm of exciting ideas that touch every part of our lives. Take your children outside and point out real objects that display math concepts. For example, show your children the symmetry of a leaf or the angles on a building; take a close look at the spirals in a spider web or the intricate patterns of a snowflake.

3. Help your children understand why math is important.
Math improves problem solving that can be applied in different ways. It's the same as reading. You can learn the basics of reading without ever enjoying a novel. But, where's the excitement in that? With math, you could stop with the basics, but there is more to be gained through a complete understanding of mathematics. Life is more enriching when we go beyond the basics. Stretch your children's minds to become involved in mathematics in ways that will not only be practical but also enhance their lives.

4. Make math as "hands on" as possible.
To really experience math, encourage your child to dig in and tackle problems in creative ways. Help them learn how to manipulate numbers using concrete references as well as things they can see or touch. Look for patterns everywhere, explore shapes and symmetries, play math puzzles and games, and encourage your child to try to invent their own. And, whenever possible, help your child realize a mathematical conclusion with real and tangible results. For example, measure out a full glass of juice with a measuring cup and then ask your child to drink half. Measure what is left. Does it measure half of a cup?

If you continue to struggle to teach your children math, it helps to approach the topic with a good toolset. Using a program, such as ALEKS, offers a holistic solution to boost your child's scores, comfort and confidence with mathematics, and is a very popular option among homeschoolers. To see if this is right for your children, ALEKS offers a one month trial available exclusively for homeschoolers.

Homeschoolers like ALEKS because it uses artificial intelligence to provide new concepts when your child is ready to learn them, which builds tremendous learning momentum in mathematics. ALEKS is a Web-based program that delivers individualized instruction integrated with all 50 states' standards, and can be used as a core or supplemental curriculum.

ALEKS provides:

  • Assessments to determine exactly what your child knows, doesn't know, and is ready to learn next. Each child's customized learning path introduces new concepts gradually, and at the precise moment the child is ready to successfully learn the topic.
  • Complete explanations for every practice problem, including alternative explanations when appropriate. ALEKS also offers immediate feedback for your child based on his or her response to a problem. Furthermore, multiple choice questions are avoided, meaning your child must use realistic input tools to demonstrate topic mastery.
  • Access to the full online ALEKS course library, which allows your child to progress through multiple courses during the subscription period. ALEKS QuickTables, a research-based, math fact mastery tool for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, is included with every subscription.
  • Automated reports that track your child's progress in real-time, enabling you to quickly gauge your child's progress. ALEKS also provides a customized Pie Chart that allows your child to access a graphic representation of his or her progress towards completing a course at any time.
  • Instruction and support you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12. 
  • Accessibility from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a flexible and mobile educational solution for your children.

Frustration with math can become a set pattern. When your child feels that he or she is "no good" at the subject, your child may retreat into the assumption that he or she will never be good at it. The sooner you can interrupt this predictable feedback loop, the sooner your child will show more enthusiasm for the subject. Take some extra time to familiarize yourself with the various solutions for math education. If you are more comfortable with the subject, your child will be too. Imagine the pride your child will feel when conquering something originally thought to be too hard, or even impossible. The confidence that mastery of math brings is an asset that will help your child all through school, and beyond.


   
 

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