Teaching Tips - Math

If You Did Poorly in Math

Don't Tell Your Children

If you did poorly in math, don't tell your children.

They may think, "How can I expect to do math well, if you can't even do it?"

A person's expectations, especially a child's expectations, have a huge bearing on how well they do anything. If they believe they can do math well, they will probably find a way to learn it well, and do it well. If they believe they can't do something well, they won't try, and they won't learn it.

Don't Lie

I'm not suggesting that you lie to them. You should never lie to your children, but it may be better for them, when they are younger, not to know certain things, and this is one of them.

There may be a lot of reasons why you didn't learn math well in school (a weak math teacher in one or more years, stress from non-school problems, stress from in-school problems, moving to another school, lack of interest at the time, etc.), but younger children are not likely to understand these, and then do well at math.

There may be a time to tell your children, for example if they are having a lot of difficulty, you may want to tell them you had difficulty, too, to encourage them, but be careful. If they hear you had difficulty, and then overcame it, it should be very inspiring. But if they find out you didn't overcome it, it will probably discourage them from trying, which really makes it difficult for them to learn.

In general, if you did poorly at math, it's best to "omit" this fact.

Learn Math Now

Having trained adults who did poorly in math, I can tell you that it almost certainly wasn't your fault, and if you are still poor at math, with good training, you can probably learn to do it well.

If you did poorly in math, learn it now. It will increase your confidence to teach it, and it will increase your belief that you and your children can do math well.

Go through the same material you are going to use to teach your child, and do all the exercises yourself, first. If this isn't enough to get you up to speed, seek help from friends who know how to do it, or if necessary, hire a tutor to get you going.

Most people who did poorly in math, have had a problem at a particular grade level, and didn't catch up. To fix the problem, you have to go back, usually about two years earlier, and find out what you didn't learn or learned incorrectly, and learn it right.

If the material you are going to teach your child is beyond where you had the problem, you may need the help of a friend or tutor to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Try going over the material you are going to use first.

Just do what ever it takes to get yourself good at this math, and you will be an awesome inspiring teacher for your child. (And when they are older, it will make a great inspiring story for them.)

Also, if you haven't read it yet, you may want to read our article "Why You Can Teach Math."

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