Sunday, October 7, 2018

How to Overcome Math Frustration

Math time can evoke several different emotions in my daughter and myself. 

Sometimes there is laughter, other times there is a sense of pride and more often than not there are tears of frustration. Tears, yes, you read that right tears. 

Although she is fully capable of doing the math and has all of the background knowledge to understand the assignment, sometimes there is just a brain blockage that will not let it all connect. Hence the frustration.

Other times it's a personality thing. She does not like to be timed. It stresses her out and she instantly shuts down. We're working on this, but it's a challenge for sure.  

After several conversations with other homeschool moms I realized that I wasn’t alone with a tearful math session. I jokingly stated, ‘if they are crying then we are doing it right’. However, inside I was still bothered. The tears tore me apart every day. 

If I dreaded math time, how much more did she. My goal in homeschooling was to train her heart and if math time was damaging it, then something had to change. 

As a means of teaching to her heart, I started trying different methods to help lower our frustrations and not dread math time.

1. Use a Math Drill App
Math curriculum often has drill sheets that the student needs to complete in a minute or less. If you think about it, they have to look at the problem, recall the answer and then write it. Some children have a hard time with this skill. The need for speed often times interferes with their accuracy.

Instead of the drill sheet and a timer, try downloading an app. Majikhub from the Google Play Store allows you to choose the time as well as set parameters for the problems. It takes a little planning and looking at the drill sheet for the day but it will definitely lower the frustration level.

2. Get creative with Flashcards
Another option to lower the stress of a paper pencil type drill, is using flashcards. This is more interactive and will help a tactile child feel more in control. Often times the smaller numbers on the paper make it hard to recall. You can play a game with the flashcards and let them keep the ones they know and set to the side the ones that need to be reviewed. 

Another fun game to play with flashcards is hopscotch. Lay the cards on the floor and have them answer them as they hop. You can set a timer to say when the game has to end and see how many cards were correct. This is a sneaky way to use a timer.

3. Choose evens or odds
Most math curriculum provides multiple problems to practice the same concept. By adjusting the amount of work and letting your student choose either even or odd problems, they feel more in control and are still getting the skills practice that they need. 

If there is a particular problem that you want them to work on then just circle it and tell them it's a non-negotiable. If you don't do this too often they shouldn't balk at it.

4. Skip a test
Formal testing in a homeschool setting is over rated. If you are working one on one with your child you know how they are doing. You know if they know a concept or need more practice.

In order to alleviate some frustration, maybe skip a test every once in a while. If the curriculum has a test every 5 lessons, then maybe you give a formal test every 10 lessons and the test you skipped can be more of an oral review.

5. Double up on lessons
At the beginning of the year most math curriculum is a review of the previous year. This is a good time to double up on lessons that your child has mastered. Have them answer the questions orally to show their mastery but then move on to a lesson to learn a new concept.

The best part of homeschooling is that you are the teacher. You get to decide what you will do with each lesson and how you are going to present it. The curriculum is just a guide, not a dictator of your day. 

If this is your first year, you may feel overwhelmed with everything and feel the need to turn each page and complete it all. Take a deep breath, step back and decide what's important. Your child's heart is the most important thing. 

This is me giving you permission to do it your way!

I'm praying for you!

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