Supporting Kids in Math & Science
Not everyone can do everything...or maybe everyone CAN do everything, if you just get the F@#* out of their way. This is the dilemma I am faced with these days. My mind-blowing, radiant, ethereal daughter, Gigi, is struggling in math. She is so freaking smart, and has shown in many ways that she has an analytical and mathematical mind. In lower grades, she showed a lot of aptitude for math. But now - oh man, it is a struggle. Every parent-teacher conference is about her 'attitude' in math class and how she just decides not to learn or participate, and she's doing great in pretty much every other subject. It's not about her ability to understand math. It's about these things:
- A 9-year-old's inability to still still and absorb a 90-minute lecture (our Spanish school uses a traditional teaching style for math)
- Belief that she isn't as smart as the other kids in her class
- A learning style that works best through play, movement and creativity
- Low self concept that minimizes participation or asking questions
Gigi is not alone - so many of us are doing all we can to help our kids be successful in math and science, and sometimes it's hard. I'm talking about it all week in the Facebook group, so make sure to check it out. I am considering lots of changes to help Gigi: changing schools, getting a tutor, Outschool classes, dropping into a lower grade for math, etc. But I there are a few simple things that have already made a big difference for her, and these are often game-changers for my clients whose kids are struggling with Math or Science:
- It's about effort.
Gigi knows I care more about her trying her best than getting good grades. I make a big deal about her asking questions in class, paying attention, and participating in the activities.
- Foster curiosity.
Kids have natural curiosity about things we sometimes think are boring, like multiplication tables or the molecules. The thing is that their curiosity often comes up at really inconvenient or messy ways (organizing toothpicks into piles or spreading kinetic sand all over your carpet, for example). While we can't always indulge our kids curiosity in every moment (playing mixologist in a restaurant isn't cool), whenever you can check your need for order or cleanliness, you'll probably be encouraging some great learning in your kid.
- Check your own fear.
I know a ton of people who crap all over themselves about their own abilities in math or science, talking about dorks, nerds or just throwing their hands up like it's just not for people like them. Dude! Think about what you're modeling for your kiddo. If you're all up in your head about something, your kid will be too. Normal people can learn math and science; it's not just for superheroes.
If you're not a math whiz or a science geek, that's totally fine. Expose your kid to loads of examples of other people who are. Show them (and yourself!) that it's attainable and cool to succeed in these things, and walk your talk. Maybe it's time for you to come out of your shell and learn some new stuff too; watch a science documentary, do some flashcards together, explore a museum, or just lay in the backyard with a magnifying glass!
Y'all - maybe you've noticed that these tips don't just apply to math and science. If you've followed me for any time at all, you'll recognize them as common themes in my parent work whether we're talking about behavior, chores, grades, tantrums, manners, relationships, or any other mama dilemma that we all face. I know (and teach moms all the time) that it's not as complicated as we think it is, but it IS hard to put into practice. It's not that we need new tricks and skills every time something new comes up. It's that we need to learn how to apply the things we already know are right for our family to each new momming situation. Whether you're struggling with math & science, or picky eaters, or non-sleepers, or WHATEVER - it's my mission to make your life easier and I know I can, because I do it for hundreds of moms everyday. Want proof? Well I guess you're more of a scientist than you thought! This month I am offering my Raising Great Kids masterclass for FREE. Sign up and see for yourself what having someone in your corner looks like.