How to Overcome Math Anxiety
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I’m the first to admit that math is not my forte. As an English major, I was lucky to escape the ‘hard’ math classes, so it’s been a challenge for me to teach upper level math to my children. I have true math anxiety, which I don’t want to pass along to my children. Talking with other homeschool moms, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone.
The biggest hurdle for me has been the ability to teach it in a way my kids can understand, even when I don’t have all the answers. Luckily, there is help available. I have found five ways to overcome math anxiety that have made my homeschooling days flow more smoothly, and I’m here to share these tips with you!
5 Ways to Overcome Math Anxiety
- Switch curriculum. If your current curriculum is not user-friendly and does not fit your or your child’s learning style, pass it along to someone else and find one that works better for you. There are many choices out there, and it is just as important for a curriculum to be easy for Mom to implement as it is for the student to use. Ask other moms if you can take a peek at what they are using, peruse the racks at a homeschool bookstore, or attend a homeschool convention to learn more about the different styles of math curriculum you have to choose from. And, many curriculum companies offer free samples on their websites. Take advantage of these and try them out before you buy. If you’ve given a curriculum your all, and it still isn’t clicking, don’t be afraid to try something else.
- Break things down into manageable pieces. Instead of trying to complete an entire lesson in one sitting, spread it out and spend twenty minutes on it, then move on to something else and come back to it. Handling math in smaller doses to give yourself time to ponder a new concept before moving on to the next step can help the concepts ‘stick’ and form those basic building blocks and prevent you from feeling lost. Don’t move ahead until you’ve mastered a concept. Even if it takes a few days to complete a lesson, it is important not to move ahead “lost.” One of the luxuries of homeschooling!
- Stick with it every day. Because math is so challenging for us, we do it EVERY DAY. That keeps everything in our brains. Even if it just means watching a short video or working a few problems, daily exposure really helps us not have to go back and re-learn past material. Sit down with your child, no matter what his age. Even a teen benefits from your undivided attention and should not be expected to work independently all the time. Just being there beside them to guide them through the lesson and offer support makes a world of difference in their attitudes (and yours)!
- Incorporate math into other subjects. Some ways of doing this are to use math in art through design, play math games, read math-related picture books, or cook a meal using measurements. Discuss math as you encounter it in your daily life, like calculating the cost to fill up the gas tank, figuring sales prices with percent off deals at the store, or counting change.
- Seek help or tutoring. There are fantastic online resources to help with this, such as MathWizTutors. They will match you with a math tutor either online or in person, and you can even view a full bio of math tutors including ratings, experience, and background checks. Some concepts are too tough for me to handle, no matter how good my math curriculum is, and it is invaluable to have an expert who can explain it. Personalized service catered to exactly what we need is invaluable. Getting help with algebra was a must for me and my oldest son, and we honestly were so stuck at one point that we couldn’t have moved ahead without help. Tutoring is one of the best homeschool investments we’ve made.
Don’t let math anxiety take over your homeschool. With a few changes and a little help–plus thinking outside the box–you can overcome your math anxiety and even grow to enjoy spending time with numbers.