How To Help Your Reluctant Math Student

Illustration: Hanna Barczyk

By Courtney Reichert ’06

Promote the importance of math.
At some point during your schooling, you may have muttered under your breath, “Why do we need to learn this?” I get it! But try to emphasize that even if your student doesn’t plan to factor trinomials every day, math problem solving is a great way to exercise our brains and improve logic. We definitely use these every day.

Don’t let them sense your fear.
If you don’t love math like I do or have ever said, “I’m not good at math,” help yourself and your kids overcome this by seeing math as a worthy challenge, not a monster. In my experience, students who struggle with math lack confidence most of all.

Don’t underestimate the power of drill and grill.
Encouraging your child to memorize the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts is one of the easiest and best ways to ensure your child learns quantitative skills early in their education. Numeracy is crucial for estimation and makes the more abstract algebra so much easier later on.

Stay positive.
Whether your children are math marvels or numeracy novices, chances are they’re going to get frustrated with their math homework somewhere along the way. The satisfaction of finally “getting it,” however, promises to be rewarding. They’ll survive math class, and if they have the right mindset, they just might enjoy it too.

Courtney Reichert ’06 is an NBCT certified math teacher at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine.

This piece first appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Bowdoin magazine.

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