She does not want to "bruise" her brain (math) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 04:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everybody. 


I have a problem with DD. The teacher has the same problem. Every time she actually has to "use" her brain - like strain herself a tiny bit, she starts whining and acting as if she were in physical pain. She does this with numbers and math a LOT. 


She is far ahead in class with writing and reading, but she just refuses to do math. whenever they are allowed free work in school, she'll do writing or reading...


I want her to have fun with math and not feel it as a burden. 


Any tips? 

Trin with DH , DD(7)  and DS(5) ,  DD(2) ,
I am not regularly online at the moment due to the above ...
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#2 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 11:59 AM
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I would try to play games at home-- a lot of board games have good math skills! Othello, Yahtzee, Blokus, etc (I am sure others have good suggestions as well). Baking-- double & halve the recipes….lots of fractions in there!


There are some fun 'math' books out there "Penrose the Cat", "The man who counted", etc that may tie her love of reading with math.


Money is always a good motivator!! One of the first math-y activities they actively sought out was change counting and/or adding. They love to try to guess what we will pay at stores…and/or budgeting money (giv e X and they have to purchase, but can keep change).



As for school, well- make sure the style curriculum is a good fit for her learning style. I know some math programs appeal to different types of learnings. The program our school uses is pretty visual and involves a lot of games & reading- which works for my kiddos, but non-reading kiddos may dislike it! They also do math enrichment called Exemplars that involve reading and figuring out work rather than rote or number work.

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#3 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 02:35 PM
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This is one of the rare times I'll suggest computer games, but my son was having trouble memorizing his times tables and what finally worked was to get a math problems app. His favourite was one where an Indiana Jones kind of guy was riding around on a snake and he had to steer it to pick the right answer, which there were a few numbers in bubbles around the ground, but there were a bunch of different themed ones. A lot of early math boils down to the equivalent of sight-reading... you don't sound out the word, you recognize it instantly, and you don't calculate 7 + 5 = 12 anymore, the answer is just in your head.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#4 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 08:32 AM
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How does she cope with manipulatives? Is she okay with using them? Or even finger-counting strategies? They might be useful for helping her develop the habit of the step-wise logic that is required for math. It may be that if she can't see her way to the answer in a single step, she doesn't trust that she can get there, and she doesn't have strategies for working through the steps, which leaves her feeling anxious, insecure and upset with herself. Kids who are anxious cannot access their intellectual abilities adequately, so help given at that point is probably not going to be internalized.


Although I'm one who thinks that math concepts are far more fundamental and important than mechanics, I think that sometimes in kids who have no confidence in their ability to think logically and mathematically need to approach things from a mechanical, rote-learning perspective for a little while until their anxiety abates and they see that they can work through tricky problems. A good approach might be to take a somewhat challenging problem that she doesn't think she can solve and break it down into steps that are so small and easy that she can't possibly fail at each one. Astronomically small and simple -- that's where the manipulatives might come in. Like "count out a pile of this many dimes, and another pile of this many dimes" might be one step. "Push the piles together" might be the next step, and so on. And then take her through the process a few times until she can do all the steps on her own. Show her the magic of putting one foot in front of the other even when you can't see the summit of the mountain: you do get there, and when you do, the view is lovely! 


Game-playing a math-y literature are great ways to continue to stretch her understanding of concepts and real-world applications and I would definitely do that as well. But the emotional reaction she's having to basic math schoolwork suggests to me that she might benefit from some hand-holding as she learns the habits of step-wise problem-solving, guidance that is free of the possibility of failure and thus begins to restore her confidence. 



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#5 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 11:22 AM
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Do you find her resistant to thinking generally, or is it mostly with regards to math?


I'm assuming your sig is accurate, and we're talking about a 7 year old here.


Most kids I've encountered that age will engage when presented with appropriate material with a reasonably positive and supportive teacher.  Where do you see her practical math abilities?  Is it possible that there's something here that in unnecessarily hard for her?


First, go through a reality check - where is she developmentally compared to typically developing peers:


Second, discuss with the teacher the environment for learning math.  Is there a potential barrier to her learning?


If reading and writing are easy and math is (too) hard, of course she's going to chose the reading and writing during free choice time.  That makes sense.    By all means, do the games and activities described above, but when a child of mine is acting like that, it's always been traced to be too hard.  The underlying cause is often surprising, and has required evaluations by experts to accurately describe.

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#6 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 07:18 PM
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This reminds me of my dd. She is 5 and in K. She does not like math and it seems the main cause is that it is work for her while everything else comes very easily. We have had crying over math! I spoke with the teacher about it. In class my dd does participates and it generally does well with math but the problem comes if she gets a question/answer 'wrong'. I know her teacher works through this with the class and they have a variety of ways to work on problems including manipulative, visuals, etc. Teacher reports that dd is upset if her thinking isn't spot on. We are working on it in various fun ways on our own.

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#7 of 7 Old 01-10-2014, 03:22 AM
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What kind of maths does she do at home without actually noticing it is maths? As in sharing gummi bears with her siblings etc.? What CAN she do if she's not noticing it's maths? Mine HATED the type of first grade arithm etic problems that made them do problems like 8+3=11 3+8=11 11-3=8 11-8=3 over and over and over again, running into pages of mind numbing boredom and cramp-inducing number writing so much that he'd yell "Maths is the shittiest thing ever invented!", run out on the sidewalk and proceed to time himself, his sister and friends running a 10m track and convert it into km/h. It was funny and worrisome at the same time. Now that maths is marginally more interesting and his handwriting skills better he just gets on with it, and in his spare time recreates the fun stuff from Magnus Enzensberger's Zahlenteufel. (No, Penrose isn't available in German, I've checked).

MeDH DS1 10/06 DD 08/10 DS2 10/12with SB and
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