Questions to Ask If You’re Struggling with Teaching Math
When I get something and there are instructions, I give it a quick look and I decide if I need to read them. If it looks pretty clear to me, I’ll skip them or skim them. When I was teaching the Math-U-See program in my home, some of the instructions were missed or forgotten in the struggle of the day. It can be very helpful to review the instructions in this case.
A lot of times on the video, the presenter will give instruction as he’s teaching that may not necessarily be in the instruction manual. Those are easy to forget because you’re focusing on the concept and you may have forgotten what he said.
If you’re struggling with teaching math, you may relate to the following questions.
Is Your Math Curriculum Right For You?
Is the math curriculum you’re using not right for your teaching style or the learning style of your student?
One factor in the equation is timing; how many days a week are you teaching math? How many minutes a day are you spending on each lesson? It will vary depending on the lesson.
There’s also your student to keep in mind; does he shut down at a certain point in the instruction? Could that indicate that you need to review and adjust the timing? Does your student need to take breaks and reset?
Should You Take More Math Breaks?
A lot of parents struggle with particular lessons, and may have taken a short break. After coming back to that lesson again, it all came together.
A lot of times we think we teach a child something and that they should just get it right then and there. Your brain collects all the data of what happens during the day, and when you sleep it sorts it out. Some stuff goes in the long-term memory and some things go into short-term memory. Sometimes we need to sleep on it to really have the light bulb go on.
I talked to a mom of a 15-year-old who was still struggling with multiplication facts. The thing is we do have solutions for that. So sometimes, if there are missing tools, it’s a good time to just pause. Take a break and do some evaluating.
Pause and say, “Okay, what’s missing here? Why are we struggling? Is there something we can do?”
Are You a Confident Math Teacher?
A lot of times the parent is worried that they aren’t skilled enough to teach math. I want to encourage you that you are the best math teacher for your student because you know your children the best.
Even though Steve Demme is teaching students in the Math-U-See lessons, the intended audience of the videos are the teachers. Steve wants to empower parents to teach math; it’s there to support you even if you’re not feeling confident. And as I mentioned, sometimes the video and the written lessons present information in slightly different ways, so it’s good to use both of them if you’re feeling less than confident with a concept.
Do You Think That Your Student is Behind?
The most frequent conversation I have is with parents who are worried that their students are behind. Once we go through and establish a plan and strategy, the students often start thriving right away; that’s just music to my ears.
When we settle on a plan, we can then plan steps and how much time it will take, so that the students will be solid by graduation. We’re more interested in the student being solid in their math because we’re looking ahead to high school and beyond. We want your student to be set up for success in those situations.
When we map it out, the students are most likely going to be proficient through at least geometry or algebra 2, and that’s a great spot to be. As a parent, I put two kids through college. I remember that they both had to take some high school math in college, and those classes are full of other kids in the same boat. If you could be solid through algebra 2, your student wouldn’t need to be in one of those classes.
If you’re concerned about your student being behind, talk to us. We can help you put together a strategy, identify tools, and help put your mind at ease.