Why does my child struggle in math? If you have a child who just doesn’t get math, you are not alone. Some of my kids had a very natural grasp of math, and never really struggled with it. Others of them weren’t exactly a whiz, but they caught on with a little help. Then there was the one child who had some learning challenges when it came to math.
As I was working with her, it became apparent to me that she was a child who would never be GREAT at math. And that was ok. My goal was to teach her the basic math facts, and the four operations. Then I would teach her to use a calculator! I wanted to learn how to improve my child’s math skills at home but I didn’t want her to hate learning. And I didn’t want math to become the subject that ruined our relationship.
6 Tips To Help A Child Who Struggles With Math
It’s important that you don’t lose your cool (ask me how I know this is true!). Math is challenging for many students, especially when they’re not getting it, but never punish a child in anger. Instead, take a break. Spend some time digging into why your child isn’t catching on and brainstorm ways to improve. How can you know how to help if you don’t first go below the surface?
I’d like to say that I was always the patient, calm mom with her. The truth is that I often found myself getting frustrated with her. I hated that no matter HOW I explained things to her, or which manipulatives we used, she still struggled. I did take the time to assess my style of teaching as well. This is something I recommend doing in the process.
When your child struggles with math, ask yourself a few questions. For example, are you teaching the concepts properly? Are you sure your child is ready to tackle this concept? Have you worked on their reading comprehension skills so they can understand the word problems in math? Is your child forgetting what they learned last week and now you’re adding new information that confuses them again?
Yes, these can all be reasons for not learning a particular topic. But sometimes it’s more than that.
For us, there finally came a time when I decided that some changes needed to be made. These are some of the steps I took to help our child who struggles with math.
1. Drill them on their math facts consistently – every day.
When I saw my daughter was still using her fingers to calculate answers, I stopped everything in math to focus on mastering the facts. I couldn’t expect her to be able to do well in multiplication or division when she still hadn’t mastered her addition and subtraction facts.
2. Realize they need a lot of repetition and review to finally remember any new concepts.
For example, when we worked on long division she had to do several problems in a row. The next day she had to do it again, and then the next day, etc. If we missed a day when she first learned how to do the new kind of problem, I’d have to go back to day 1 again. Realizing this kept me very diligent in making sure I spent time with her every day doing math. Since math doesn’t make sense to the math-challenged child, it’s not something they love. This makes it something they don’t remember easily.
3. Learn what their daily tolerance limit is when it comes to math, as well as your daily tolerance.
By the time my daughter was in 3rd or 4th grade, I had realized she could only handle about half of a daily math lesson. If we tried to go much longer than that, she usually would have a meltdown. If she didn’t, I sometimes would! She would hit a point where nothing else registered, or she was frustrated and needed a break.
4. Never let math, or any other subject, trump the importance of the relationship!
There were times where I was going to push through till she got it, and it hurt our relationship. That’s when I realized that we needed to take a break, and stop before we got to that point. Homeschooling is about relationships and keeping our kids’ hearts. I don’t want to ever let a roadblock with a subject hurt that relationship.
If you have a child who just doesn’t get math, don’t despair. You are not alone! I had children that didn’t struggle with math at all and others that needed some extra help catching on to the concepts. The key is finding what works for your family’s needs. Let me know in the comments below what you’re struggling with to help you work through this challenge together!