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An Easier Math Equation: Math-Phobic Parent + Some Great Tips = A Child Who Enjoys Math

Perhaps just the sight of your child’s math homework causes you to sweat uncontrollably and your heart to race.  Maybe it conjures up memories of struggling through math tests of your own, or makes you want to hold on to a calculator like a security blanket.  Your reaction may not be this extreme, but many parents today do consider themselves to be “math-phobic.”  However, according to a 2007 study in the journal Developmental Psychology, math skills at a child’s entry into kindergarten is even a stronger predictor of later school achievement than reading skills or even the ability to pay attention.  Additionally, in today’s job market, some of the fastest growing occupations require skills in math or science.  So what’s a math-phobic parent to do in order to help their children with their math skills?   In the article “A Worksheet for Math-Phobic Parents” on the Wall Street Journal online site, Sue Shellenbarger summarizes some great suggestions that will, instead of unconsciously teaching your child to fear math, will help them feel more comfortable and succeed more in math tasks:

  • Halt negative talk about math (Bon Crowder, Houston-based teacher, tutor, and publisher of MathFour.com)
  • Mix math games and questions into daily life (Bon Crowder)
  • Encouraging kids to tackle tough math problems and not be afraid to struggle with them (Ben Crowder)
  • Encouraging children’s instinctive curiosity (Dr. Adam Riess, 2011 Nobel Prize winner in physics)
  • Teaching young children to make connections between numbers and sets of objects (Dr. Susan C. Levine, professor of psychology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago)
  • Doing puzzles together or using gestures to help describe spatial relationships such as “taller” and “shorter” (Dr. Susan C. Levine)
  • Playing blocks side-by-side and encouraging replication (Dr. Kelly Mix, professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University)
  • The website “Bedtime Math” is a nonprofit website launched last February to help parents integrate math into their children’s lives.  It posts playful math questions each day related to daily life and current events, and pushes “kids to wrestle with it in their heads, while talking with their parents about how to do it” (Bedtime Math founder Laura Bilodeau Overdeck)
  • Baking together lends to various opportunities to incorporate math skills (Parent Fiona Cameron)
  • When children start bringing math homework home, many parents have to break their old habits of only emphasizing good grades, and praise their children instead for trying hard and using various approaches to figure out problems. (Dr. Susan C. Levine)
  • Struggle alongside your child, showing your child how to look up things and deal with challenges (Suzanne Sutton, math consultant and founder of NewtonsWindow.com, a website to help parents and students with math)
  • If you are really struggling yourself to help your child, instead of voicing your anxiety or frustration, offer to find a tutor for your child.  (Bon Crowder)
  • Hire your child to tutor you in math.  Oftentimes teaching another is a great way to learn yourself (Suzanne Sutton)

Do you want more ideas about how to help your child learn math – or any other subject – better?  Kidtelligent can help by giving you additional tools to help teach your children based on their own unique personality types and interests.   The Kidtelligent Assessment provides you with targeted tips and advice for dealing with challenges and situations that are unique to your child’s personality and learning style. To learn more about Kidtelligent, go to www.kidtelligent.com, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Kidtelligent.

Sarah is a guest blogger for Kidtelligent.  She is a soccer-playing, travel-loving, poetry-writing wife to a “go-getter” husband and mother to two high-spirited, sweet, and enthusiastic boys.