Let’s face it. Math is a foreign language…kind of like Italian, French, or speaking with someone from Arkansas. :o) When someone who is proficient in math is rattling off a problem, those of us who don’t speak the language are looking around like, “Wait, what???”
The funny thing about math is the simplicity of it, and yet it is quite complex if you don’t speak the language. For people in “their right mind” it is one of the most frustrating things to comprehend. I am not sure why some people are wired to get it and the rest of us are at their mercy, but thank God for CPAs, calculators, and Google. That sounds like a line from a Country Western song, doesn’t it? LOL.
The only way I made it through Algebra and Geometry was to get some tutoring. I remember asking the teacher to please help me understand it. Fortunately, he had patience and compassion on me and helped me get through those courses. I never had to take Trig or other advanced math courses, but I do have a soft spot in my heart now when I am trying to teach kids and they give me that deer in the headlights look. I understand how frustrating it can be.
If you teach math, I want to take my hat off, get on one knee, and acknowledge that you are one of the “chosen ones.” Seriously, I wish I had that gift. My advice to kids and parents is that kids have to learn the basics. I am disturbed by the number of kids who don’t even know the basic tables and can’t tell you what 4 x 2 is without writing it down.
If you are a parent with a kid who is math challenged, my advice is pretty simple:
Get them a tutor or tutor them yourself if you have the ability. Sadly, too many parents these days can’t help their kids because they don’t know how to do it themselves, much less teach their kids how to do it. Perhaps you can learn it together. Just a thought.
Encourage your child to learn the basic tables. If they can memorize the tables it will help them gain confidence in their own abilities. In our class we make it a fun exercise by dividing up in teams and doing random problems. Boy vs Girls is always a sure-fire way to get them doing their best. LOL. At home you can do flash cards to help them learn. Just have fun with it.
If you have a child who is highly creative, they probably are in their right mind…no pun intended. Creative people may or may not have the natural ability to speak math. Some do, but many don’t. If your child is right-brained, find out what he or she loves to do and encourage them to explore the gifts that they have. Do they love music? Encourage them to play or sing. Do they love to write? Encourage them to blog, journal, or write a book. Do they love art? Find out what type they love and let them create. You get the idea. One of the greatest things you can give a child is the key to unlocking their gifts. Give them the key, then encourage them to use it. Just don’t forget to teach them the basics of math in the process.