How to Teach Math to Kids Who Hate it
(or you hate teaching it?)
March 14 2018
Mercy Every Minute  
Math is not my favorite subject, but several of my kids have excelled in it. Several hate it. And there are those who don’t hate it but hate the time it takes to get it done each day. So, we change things up.

Fridays, the older ones have half- lessons (they can do either the even or odd numbers). For the younger ones, they are the days we practice filling in our multiplication tables, or get out the Calculadders, or have fun with Wrap Ups. On the rest of the days, math can be done on comfy couches or outside on a picnic table.

As homeschoolers, we have time to teach real life math like calculating tithe, paying bills, writing checks, setting aside saving and spending money from special chores, and the cost of raising chickens or planting gardens vs. the amount saved buying eggs or produce at the grocery store. We can let them figure out how much it costs to feed the family given a certain amount of money or calculate the best prices per ounce or by unit. The kids can cook whatever they’d like as they double or triple a recipe. Don’t feel guilty when you occasionally skip the textbooks, especially when they are involved in exciting real-life learning.

Yes, there may be days of tears. But we can pray, step back, and evaluate our curriculum, or add in some real-life application. We are free to explore what works. There is no one-size-fits-all in our classrooms (no common core math to struggle with or homework that doesn’t make sense). We are free to take some days off math if we need a break. Our children are free to go as fast or as slow as necessary. Homeschooling is not just about academics. It’s about freedom. 

We are free to make math decisions and free to speak about the mighty wonders of God as we see His mathematical handiwork in Creation. And we have twenty-four hours every single day to bless the LORD and teach our children of His mighty deeds. It all adds up when our children are free to be Home Where They Belong. 

If you feel like crying, cry out to the One Who hears! Leave your struggles there, and ask for wisdom. He is the Great Creator of both math and your child! Here’s an eternal math fact worth memorizing:

“He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”
- Psalm 147: 4, 5


P.S. Often I hear moms say they feel they are ill-prepared to teach their children. If you feel this way, I hope this will bless you.

P.S.S. Please come read my newest editorial in the Spring issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine!
Alesia Blackwood
When I got out into the teaching world, my enthusiasm for math and all the great things I was going to teach and students I would connect with came to a screeching halt when I realized how many students “hated” math. Talk about crushing a girl’s dream, right? This response often left me wondering what the reason could be? Was it the methods of teaching? The teacher? The school system? These are very broad topics that I couldn’t possibly get into with you today, but I would like to share some common reasons why I personally think many dislike math.

As a homeschool parent and teacher, I have lost count of the number of people who have told me that they or their child hates math. This often leads to a weird fascination with the fact that I LOVE math. A math teacher that loves math, who knew!? Math is a tricky subject, and I find that oftentimes people get caught up in the idea that math is a “gift versus ability” when it comes to how individuals learn it. This simply is not true! Sure, math may come easily to some students compared to others, but each one has the same ability to learn it just the same. Take myself, for example. I loved math right from the beginning, but it wasn’t that I had a supernatural ability to do it; I had to work on it every single day to get better at it. 

The most common reason (especially from a student’s perspective) is the lack of context. It’s very hard for students to find the motivation or commitment to something they don’t think will be applicable long term. As homeschooling parents, we have the ability to take the hands-on approach to how our kids learn these core subjects. 

This all leads to the next reason I think math is considered one of the “dreaded” subjects: the lack of success. How many people can you think of that enjoy working hard at something and continually being unsuccessful at it? Probably only a handful of people if any, right? I could think of a hundred things I would like to do before THAT! When students get in the habit of checking over their work, it allows them to catch mistakes they make along the way and then correct themselves and shows that they do in fact understand the concept but mixed something up. 

The third reason for a hatred of math is a possible learning difficulty. Finding the curriculum that works for your child is even more important when there are learning difficulties involved. It may not be possible to find a curriculum that your child can be completely independent in, but you will be able to provide more individualized one-on-one attention suited just to your child.

In this digital age of Facebook, there are groups for every possible thing. If you haven’t done so already, join some groups and see what others have done. Whatever challenge you or your child is up against, you can bet that someone has climbed that mountain ahead of you. The homeschool community is BIG and getting bigger. You may be able to connect with someone who can provide that moment of clarity that you’re in need of today!

Matthew and Alesia Blackwood have been involved with homeschooling since the 1980’s. Since 1981, Matthew has brought a unique perspective of being both a homeschool graduate and a homeschool dad of four. Alesia, homeschooled from 1984-1989, went on to become an exceptional math teacher with a gift for explaining math in way that engages the students and helps them to realize that they CAN do it! Matthew and Alesia are the founders of UnLock Math, Inc., which combines Alesia’s exceptional teaching with the world’s most advanced interactive assessment platform to create an award winning middle and high school math curriculum.
Heart of Dakota publishes Christ-centered homeschool curricula that is easy to use, flexible, educational and can also be used with multiple ages at the same time.
First, I have a little math confession. . .

1. I took every math class my public high school offered.

2. I took Advanced Calculus in college.

3. I couldn’t even solve the simplest Algebra problem now.

4. I’m not sure I can multiply or divide fractions without some serious guidance.

5. I can’t count back change.

6. I still don’t know where those two trains would meet if one left from Walla Walla, WA, traveling at fourty-seven mph and one left from Wheeling, WV, traveling at sixty-two mph driven by a guy named Gus.

7. I never could balance my checkbook (praise the Lord for a math wife).

8. I’m not a math guy (praise the Lord that He gave me a math wife).

This is my theory: some people are math people, and some aren’t . . . AND you can’t make a non-math person a math person. You can push, prod, and frustrate yourself and your children . . . but you’re not going to transform them into math people.

If you’re not a math parent, don’t sweat it if you can’t teach math. Math kids just need a push in the right direction. You won’t keep them from being a math person, if that‘s who they are already. If your child is not a math person, and you ARE, then back off, and let him be a non-math person . . . and smile at him.

Sure he needs to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but he doesn’t need to be fast at it, and he DOESN’T need to be able to do algebra, geometry, or calculus (unless he’s college bound . . . and even then there are ways around it).

I’m afraid we’ve bought into the lie that EVERYONE should be a math person and take every math course offered. It’s a LIE! You need to let your math kids be math kids, your art kids be artists, your people-skilled kids be “people persons,” your history kids be historians, and your children . . . well, be children—not college-prep nerds.

And YOU need to relax, enjoy their God-created gifts and bents, and allow them the joy of running in the direction they were made to run!

Be real,

PS - Need some encouragement balancing homeschooling, life, and mothering? Check out the book 365 Day Homeschooling Mom. It’s a great way to start every day! 
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Kerry Tittle 
I wish I could tell you we can’t wait to get up in the morning to start—math! But the honest truth is that isn’t true. Math is my least favorite subject once the alphabet gets involved, and if I’m not careful, I am the thermostat that sets the tone for subjects.

Start by giving your best attitude towards math. Mathematics seems to usually rank close to the highest despised subject. Sometimes I think kids go into disliking math with a preconceived attitude before ever giving math a chance. Kids too often hear the loosely thrown label “I’m not a math person.” That can easily intimidate on the front end and cause them to be discouraged.

Make sure you have a curriculum that your child understands. It didn’t take me long in my homeschool journey to find that I had to be very intentional to assign math curriculum to learning styles. For my visual and kinesthetic learners, I had more manipulatives than I did for my auditory children. Make sure what you have works for them; it plays a huge role in their outlook.

Be Creative. Be intentional about having math games in the house. Playing these games weekly can help children with concepts in a fun way that just an assignment can’t. There are also several books that are fun “stories” that teach math concepts. Once in a while, assign a biography on a mathematician. Look for creative ways to teach math with cooking, crafts, and building—and my personal favorite . . . M&Ms!

Make math about detective work. Instead of focusing on how many they got wrong, try to focus on the logic they used to get the answer. This clue-finding approach tends to make it more interesting and challenging for them. They will learn more by how they got it wrong than just by a simple check mark.

Personality. I actually have a child who prefers memorization of facts and logic to tricks and tips. She felt that the trick was a short term “got it” to understand the logic behind the fact. Customizing their study is the beauty of homeschooling!

Time. For our family, we have to get math done first thing in the morning if it’s going to get done. It is our more challenging subject, and once it’s done, it feels like an accomplishment; and the rest of the day tends to go rather smoothly.

There will always be days that don’t go smoothly. Your children will convince you that M.A.T.H. is an acronym for Mental Abuse To Humans. Take those days and hand them to the Lord, and ask for strength the next day. He knows you are limited, but He will reward your faithfulness to persevere.

I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Kerry Tittle is a mother of nine children and a 20-year homeschool veteran. She was the owner of ReformationKidz with her husband Rob until a tornado destroyed their home and business in 2014, taking the lives of Rob and two of their daughters, Tori and Rebekah. Kerry is the founder of  Refined Family , which is created to encourage others to find hope in the gospel in the midst of trials.
Jodi Riddle
Math seems to be one of those subjects that you either love it or you don’t! It seems many times, though, that the love of math (or lack thereof) is based on past experiences with it. If math class is presented from the beginning as only textbooks, worksheets, and repeated drill tests, especially if math concepts do not come easy, this will lead to discouragement and develop into a hatred of it (both in the student and the teacher). 

Math can be fun, however, and you can have fun teaching it and learning it (no matter the age!). Are you teaching your youngsters to count and learn their colors, shapes, or sizes? Use food items such as M&Ms to count, group by color, add/subtract/multiply/divide or other concepts, and then allow the children to eat them, (and teach them to share by giving you some, too!). Various other food items can be used for these basic concepts, also. Or use other items such as LEGOs, blocks, or marbles, and then give the children some time to construct something or play a game with them. 

Teaching fractions can always be rough on paper, but get some flimsy paper plates and cut them into the various fraction parts. You can write on each piece what the fraction of that plate is and the child can easily see that when you add all the pieces together, it makes a whole. Egg cartons also work well for fractions. Cut into different parts to show halves, thirds, or any other fractional parts. Get the measuring cups out, and bake some of your favorite things showing how fractions are used in the kitchen. 

The older the child (or parent) gets, it may seem the topics get tougher, but always relate it to “real” things. When one understands that, and it isn’t just in black and white on the paper, it can be easier to teach and learn. Keep in mind that God created math, and in His infinite wisdom, it really is all around us. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, . . . all things were created by him, and for him.”

Avoid thinking or hearing,  “When Will I Ever Use This Math?”, and realize it is a very big part of our everyday lives; so just embrace it, and don’t hate what God has created!

Jodi has been with TOS since April 2016. She serves as a Human Resource and Operations Assistant and is also the  Homeschooling with Heart  blog manager. Jodi is a pastor’s wife and has three boys. She has homeschooled for seventeen years and also taught in the private and public-school settings. Jodi enjoys teaching, playing the piano, scrapbooking, and making cards. Her heart’s desire is to help others learn to enjoy these things as well!

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in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of March
Henry Borenson, Ed.D.

The Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is a mathematics system that teaches students how to do algebraic equations using a simple yet effective method. I teach both of my daughters who are ages eight and eleven. I have learned by observing and engaging with them that they each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses as it relates to mathematics. While one is quick to recognize solutions for word problems, the other has an easier time building her mathematics foundation by learning her facts and tried and true math rules. They each approach math differently.

Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is the first math program which we have been able to use together. Often learners must work at their particular level because of skill requirements. The only requirement for this program is to be proficient in adding and subtracting. Hands-On Equations has three skill levels'. All learners should begin at Level 1 to gain understanding of the method. Level 1 consists of seven lessons; therefore, it shouldn’t take a long time to move forward to the next level if the student quickly grasps the concept. Although I am proficient at solving algebraic equations, I found Hands-On Equations enlightening because it caused me to see the solving of algebraic equations differently. Dr. Borenson made it simple; therefore even my eight-year-old daughter who is apprehensive of larger multiplication facts was also able to solve for the unknown. Level 1 teaches the students to see the unknown as the same number throughout the equation. (. . .)

The program includes all three levels instruction guides, a student kit which includes pawns, cubes, and a laminated balance scale, DVD instruction for all three levels, classwork sheets which are reproducible, answer key, and Hands-On Equations Verbal Problems Introductory Workbook.The entire program is completed in twenty six lessons which can be completed at the student’s pace. The student kit provides the hands-on aspect to the approach. The pawns and cubes are used to illustrate the equation. (. . .)

Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set is a good program to have in your math arsenal particularly for students who need to “see” math. It makes it easier and less threatening, and even I, someone who is proficient and a certified math teacher, enjoy learning this method with my daughters. In my opinion, the DVD instruction is mandatory, especially if you have not attended one of the seminars to understand this method. Dr. Borenson goes through each lesson step by step which helps if you are stuck doing math one way or if you aren’t comfortable teaching math.

YOU can WIN this awesome math set for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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