A Guest Post
Teaching math to your kids can be a homeschool dream – or a sheer nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be! Encourage your kids to have a love of math, even if you don’t. Try out some of these tips for teaching homeschool math. By knowing these simple tips, your kids can go from math-phobic to math-enthusiasts!
1. Don’t let your experiences rub off on your kids.
When I taught high school, I used to hear this statement frequently at parent-teacher conferences… “Well, I’m not surprised Billy doesn’t understand math. I hated it when I was a kid, and now he does too.”
Not true. Simply not true.
You see, I was one of those kids who didn’t get math. As in, I never understood it. Never. Nada. Math was just a bunch of numbers and letters in weird patterns.
Yet, I became a math teacher at one of the most elite public high schools in the country. And now, besides homeschooling, I also teach college math courses. (The transformation from being math-awful to awesome is a whole different post!)
How does this relate to you? Well, don’t let your feelings, insecurities, and lack of enthusiasm for math get passed down to your kids. Just because you didn’t like math (and you probably had a horrible teacher in the process who created those bad memories) doesn’t mean that your kids should immediately think negative thoughts whenever they hear the word “equals” or “algebra.”
2. Throw out the timer.
My son loves competition. He’ll race just about anyone, to see who can finish putting their seatbelt on first, who can get dressed the quickest, or who can fill up their squirt gun the fastest.
But he doesn’t like timed math drills.
In fact, it causes panic. And honestly, I remember when I was his age how terrified I was that I wasn’t going to finish all 100 of those addition problems in 5 minutes. Timed tests are torture for just about everyone.
One of the biggest suggestions I can give you is to get rid of the timer. It causes math anxiety, and oftentimes, the beginnings of test anxiety. Instead, I would focus on understanding math… Does your child understand the “how” and “why” behind the facts? How about borrowing/carrying, which is much more than placing a 1 over top of the next column. If you must practice drills, then let your son or daughter set the goal, and make sure it is achievable — maybe 2 minutes initially for 20 simple problems. Each time the goal is broken, readjust the goal to a lower time.
3. Step away from the flashcards.
Flashcards. What parent doesn’t try to drill their kids with flashcard facts? It’s painful for both the parent AND the child. Your daughter guesses what she believes is the right answer, and then waits for your approval that she got it correct. Guess correctly… whew! Guess wrong… *sigh* and place the card in the back of the deck.