It’s so tricky when your girl hates math! You want to do SOMETHING to help, but what? What if you make the wrong choice and make things worse? But if you do nothing, you pretty much guarantee she’ll go on to become a math-hating adult. It’s the total catch-22.
You run through the options: Do you back off and give her a break (but what if she falls behind)? Do MORE math so maybe she’ll get better at it (but what if she hates it even more)? Try something totally different–and if so, what?
Your girl is her own person, which means a one-size-fits-all solution is not going to work for her. Her situation–and yours–is unique. In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps to finding what YOUR daughter needs to thrive in math…starting right now.
Step 1: What is your girl’s greatest challenge?
Let’s get one thing straight: Your child is NOT (genetically or naturally) “bad at math”. If she hates math or struggles with math, there’s a very good reason why–and it has little or nothing to do with her ability.
Math either does not make sense to her (a mismatch in teaching method), it’s stressing her out (memorization, competition, and focus on speed), or it’s boring her to tears.
We can narrow these down to the three possible reasons why your child hates math:
- She’s confused
- She’s anxious
- She’s bored
Your girl may be clearly one of these, or some combination. So your first question to answer is, Which of these is true for my child?
Click on the green box to learn more about each one:
If your girl is CONFUSED…
She says she doesn’t get it. Your explanations don’t seem to help, and sometimes even make it worse. Math just doesn’t make sense.
She assumes there’s something wrong with her, but the real problem is a mismatch between the teaching method and how she learns best.
She needs to put math in context, see it in pictures, and make connections that mean something in her world.
If your girl is ANXIOUS…
Your girl thinks being good at math (i.e, smart) means knowing all the answers, being the first one with the solution, and never making a mistake.
She feels stressed and anxious when she can’t figure out an answer right away; she thinks that if she were smart, she would know it already.
Perfectionism, competition, timed tests and/or memorization have sucked the joy from her experience of math. She tells herself she feels anxious because she’s bad at math.
If your girl is BORED…
The math is too easy, too tedious, or just plain not fun. Busywork is the worst–or maybe it’s memorizing endless lists of math rules!
Boring math has become such the norm that we hardly realize it’s a problem…but your child will avoid what she doesn’t like, and her lack of effort translates into power struggles, careless errors, and low scores.
Her skills will improve by leaps and bounds when she learns math in a way that’s interesting, challenging, and makes her curious to learn more.
This would be a great time to take the free quiz to discover your daughter’s math superpower, if you haven’t already. It will give you some great insight and clarity to how your daughter’s mind works–and pinpoint her greatest challenge.
Now that you’ve identified why your daughter hates math, we can take steps to fix it. The next step is to paint a picture of your ideal math experience so you know what you’re working toward–for both you and your daughter.
Step 2: What would the perfect math solution look like?
What are your goals for your daughter? What would a great math experience look like for her?
Just as important, what are YOUR needs when it comes to your child’s math? Do you prefer to be hands on, hands off, or somewhere in between?
Check off the goals that are important to you. If you’d like to do this with paper and pencil, here’s a printable PDF of the checklist below.
GOALS FOR MY DAUGHTER
- fill gaps in learning
- learn new math skills
- quick recall of math facts
- enjoys math
- solves real-world problems
- critical thinking skills
- overcome math anxiety
- feels challenged
- deep understanding
- believes she’s good at math
- growth mindset
- work with a teacher
GOALS FOR MYSELF
- no more math fights
- quality time with my child
- positive home math dynamic
- feel less freaked out by math
- simple homeschool system
- more time to myself
- improve teaching skills
Now take a few moments to look over the items you checked. What would it feel like to have this kind of math experience? What long-term changes would you expect to see?
When all you’ve ever known in math is drill and memorization, it can be next to impossible to imagine something different. Not to worry; let’s head over to Step 3 and check out some VERY DIFFERENT kinds of math solutions that will transform your child’s math and your time together.
Step 3: Explore solutions
You don’t need a zillion creative math solutions to help your child love math; you just need a handful of the ones that will help you most.
First, we’ll look at the four top Artful Math solutions that are GAME CHANGERS for kids who hate math. As you scroll down, you’ll find a comparison chart to help you choose the solutions your child needs most.
1. Miss Brain’s Cool Math Games is a book of dice and card games that help your child get better at math as she plays.
Games are fun for all kids, but ESSENTIAL for the Playful Problem Solver (see Quiz) or if your child is anxious, since it’s one of the few things that does not trigger the fear response when she does math.
2. Kitten Math is an irresistible, 30-day math adventure that combines creativity, imagination, and problem solving.
In this adorable “choose your own adventure”, your child will take in four (imaginary) orphan kittens and raise them to adoption age. There’s shopping to be done, formula to mix, midnight feedings to coordinate… Math is woven into each new kitten challenge so naturally that your child hardly realizes she’s learning! (Available September 2020)
3. Artful Math Homeschool is a treasure trove of 3 months of creative math activities that will get your child excited and curious about math each day.
Unlike boring textbooks or cut-and-paste “how to do the math” worksheets and videos, Artful Math Homeschool is a combination of hands-on explorations, real-world investigations, puzzles and games that help your child build a deep understanding of math.
4. Math Circles brings together all the best of Artful Math: puzzles, explorations, projects, games, and (best of all) in-person learning and mentoring with a teacher who specializes in math for girls.
I work with your daughter in an online, small-group setting, exploring a new math skill each week with a variety of playful activities and games.
Unlike traditional math programs where kids are pitted against each other in a competitive atmosphere, Artful Math girls work together and support each other.
The experience is truly magical. Math Circles build confidence, reduce anxiety, and give girl a FUN experience of math unlike anything they’ve ever had before.
Artful Math Comparison Chart
Which of these jump out at you as a “must-have” solution that is perfect for your child?
You’ve identified your girl’s greatest math challenge, you’ve identified your goals, and you have a clear picture of the solutions available. Now, let’s put all the pieces together.
Pulling it all together
Sometimes one type of solution is all you need. Maybe you’re mostly happy with your current math setup and just want to enhance it or strengthen it with a fun math option.
Other times, the situation is more worrisome. Your child actively avoids math, or is struggling to understand it, or is clearly afraid and anxious at math time. Something is not working, and you need a more layered solution to meet all her needs.
Artful Math solutions were made to complement each other with very little overlap, each with its own specific purpose. Here are some examples of successful combos:
Miss Brain’s Cool Math Games + Homeschool Curriculum = if you want a variety of fun math games and activities for every math skill in your child’s grade.
Miss Brain’s Cool Math Games + Kitten Math = if your girl hates math or is anxious, choose this fail-proof combo for math she’ll LOVE to do!
Homeschool Curriculum + Math Circles = the homeschool dream team that will end the power struggles and make math your favorite time of day.
Kitten Math + Math Circles = the ultimate “mom gets a break” solution: fun activities she does on her own or with a teacher, while you do what you need to do. 😉
My favorite combo, of course, is all four together–a powerhouse of creative math learning that will set your child firmly on the path of Math Lover, with the skills to solve all kinds of math problems flexibly and creatively!
If your child hates math, there’s always a good reason why. That reason is never that she’s “bad at math” (even though she might think so). With the right tools and remarkably little effort, you can transform her experience of math into the one you wish YOU’D had as a kid–and maybe even turn her into a math lover for life!