So a friend wrote me the other day, “You know what I don’t like about math? It’s just not natural.”
After we had a good laugh and talked about how hard it is to find a good math curriculum, I got to thinking about how so many mamas dread math.So I wanted to take a few minutes today to share some practical ways to get through math every day with more joy and less stress.
I first want to say, these are small changes that work.
These are the same strategies I used to help inner-city students who were struggling in math and to help my advanced students soar. Chew on the two strategies I share today, try one out, and tomorrow I am going to share two more. You can do this. Let’s jump in-
Strategy #1: Figure out their Goldilocks Zone
Every child, in every subject, has a Goldilocks Zone. In the world of education the Goldilocks Zone is called the zone of proximal development and it’s the spot where the work your child is doing is not too hard and not too easy- it’s just right.
This approach works for us (and lots of homeschoolers) because the results detail what skills they are ready to work on next. I use these details to plan what chapters we are going to do/revisit/skip/etc. in our math curriculum. Your curriculum may have assessment or diagnostics to help you do this, too.
Be encouraged: You can positively impact your child’s motivation in math by making sure they are being adequately challenged and supported, so whatever way you do it, take the time to figure out their Goldilocks Zone.
Strategy #2: Use the ‘period’ approach
You remember how back in school we’d have the bell to tell us when it was time for our next class? Well we can adapt this approach to our homeschool. While a lovely part of homeschool is that we can work on something until our kids get it, this can also be draining. Enter: timed math periods.
It works like this: Instead deciding what lesson your child has to finish for the day, decide how much time they will work on math.
Whatever gets done during that time frame is enough for the day; you’ll come back to it tomorrow. This can take off the stress of math lessons that are dragging on. They can do what they can and come back to it.
A few tips here:
~ Make sure to start with a small, reasonable time frame so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
~ If you find that your child isn’t getting very far with the time allotted, you probably need to work on their math mindset so that they can learn how to apply effective effort (more on that in part 2).
I want to close out with a piece of research I shared with Village sisters in this month’s growth training. Dr. Jo Boaler, a mathematics education researcher, has done extensive studies that have been turning the math world on it’s head.
This is what her team as found:
There’s no such thing as a math person.
That’s right. A person who is ‘just good’ at math doesn’t exist.
There are people who believe they can do math and those who don’t. That’s the difference.
In this way, research is indicating that math achievement has more to do with mindset than innate ability.
I encourage you to think on that a bit as you figure out your child’s Goldilocks Zone and play around with how you schedule your math lessons.
Would love to hear from you: Do you consider yourself a math person? Or your kids math people? What do you think about the ‘math mindset’ in your house?