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Math for Kid Who Dislikes Math


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My DH is responsible for math in our homeschool but I'm the one who does the research and finds different options. 

Our DD has always been strong in math. She picks up the concepts easily. 

We purchased Math Mammoth last year for our first year of homeschooling (4th grade) but DD did not really like it. I think it had too many problems and was too dry. My DH dropped MM and spent most of the year working with c-rods to make sure DD was solid in multiplication and division. DH also spent a lot of time working with DD on her math facts. My DH was a math major and he's very mathy but he's very traditional in his math thinking. 

DH and DD used Beast Academy this summer. My DH likes BA but DD really dislikes it. 

I'm trying to encourage my DH to think a bit outside of the box because I'm concerned that my DD consistently dislikes math. 

Question - is it asking too much for a kid to like math? Are there some kids who will always dislike it even if they are good at it? 

Or does that mean that we have not found the right program? 

Is the goal for a child who claims to dislike math to get to feeling neutral about math (neither like nor dislike)? 

I feel like something more hands on and story based might be a better option for DD. 

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What does she dislike about math?

My son is strong in math too but will sometimes say that he dislikes it. In his case, I take it as an extension of his general grumbling about being made to do things. I mean, he grumbles about math in roughly the same way as he grumbles about having to clear the table. It feels like a chore to him.

Now, obviously I don't want math to feel like a chore so I have started incorporating more games and also more exploration into his math. Big thanks to @square25 for giving me ideas! He's been really happy about that. There is still going to be some element of just buckling down and doing things in every subject, and I really really really don't want to feel like I have to make every moment of his school day fun, but at least now I don't have to hear about how he hates math. 

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I think there are some kids who are just going to hate it.  I spent 2 years and a couple hundred dollars trying to find something my dd liked for math.  (She recently tested in the 99.9 percentile for it, so it is not that she is confused or struggling.)  After wasting a bunch of time and money I settled on CLE and she can just get it over with as quickly as possible.  We've stuck with that for the last few years.  I feel like I gave it a good try (finding something she liked) and we were approaching a state of coddling and entitlement.  I'm hopeful that she might like high school math.  I remember hating elementary math but liking everything from algebra up.  Maybe that will be the case for your dd too.

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I was going to suggest Beast Academy but you've btdt, lol! My DS says he hates math (even though he is good at it). Like Little Green Leaves wrote, I think he looks at it as a chore. He is rising 11th and we are finishing Geometry and will be starting Algebra II. He has REALLY disliked geometry mostly because I think he is confused by the diagrams. With Algebra it was word problems that took the longest; he just could not wrap his head around what was being asked and it was frustrating for him. He was relieved by factoring or anything he saw as "more straightforward," more literal. We used Singapore Math until Pre-Algebra in 7th and that was okay for him. My DD's LOVE Singapore Math but they like math more in general.

Is there any part of mathematics that your daughter does like? With arithmetic, there are so many different topics, i.e., measurement, fractions, geometry, etc. Maybe one topic she will like more than the others. and you can focus on it a little longer or combine topics. If she likes geometry for example you could incorporate measurement activities into the study of different shapes.

Is your DD more into stories and language arts? Math Detective is a fun yet solid supplement that my rising 4th grader enjoys. It's a book of scenarios that require math to answer questions: https://www.criticalthinking.com/math-detective-a1.html 

 I usually incorporate some literature in with math—I love the Marilyn Burns books that help you do this, for example: https://www.amazon.com/Math-Literature-Grades-4-6-Second/dp/0941355683/ref=sr_1_31?dchild=1&keywords=marilyn+burns&qid=1596476312&s=books&sr=1-31  Marilyn Burns has LOTS of excellent mathematics resources that are worth checking out.

I also like to include exploration projects into math which take the concepts "off" the page. For example, using Skittles or M & Ms for mean, median, and mode and for graphing projects. Or creating a survey and then using the data for fractions, stats, and/or graphing (one of my kids is using Skittles to create an accurate circle graph showing percentages of specific colors in a package). She also will be designing a house floor plan using concepts of measurement, area, and perimeter. Teacherspayteachers.com has lots of "real life" projects for reasonable cost. I've purchased these recently: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Design-a-Zoo-Area-Perimeter-21st-Century-Math-Project-614662 and https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Restaurant-Decimal-Operations-Real-World-21st-Century-Math-Project-1367921

 

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

We purchased Math Mammoth last year for our first year of homeschooling (4th grade) but DD did not really like it. I think it had too many problems and was too dry.

I probably shouldn't be talking because we use MM, and my DS does complain about it at times. 🙂 For what it's worth, he complained more about 4th grade than he does about 5th. If you do end up giving it another chance, it might be worth making sure that your DH realizes the author recommends assigning only half of the problems by default. (Assign more than that only if the child needs additional practice.) Also, the author does provide links to online games for every chapter, which can be incorporated to make it all less dry. Back in the day when I was trying out Homeschool Planet, I got a MM schedule for it, which came with both workbook assignments and links to games neatly laid out on the calendar. 

I know this doesn't answer your actual question, and I'm looking forward to reading other people's thoughts on this topic. My kids are too young for me to know if they'll end up loving math, so I have no real wisdom to share yet.

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My kids are both good in math and one is very advanced, but neither liked the bit of Beast that we tried.  Life of Fred is wildly popular with my older and we use is as a supplement (older has used it as 'Friday Math' for years).  It is very untraditional but it might spark some interest, and both of my kids say that it's helped them to clarify some ideas (one with fractions in elementary, one with some algebra concepts).  But, that being said, some kids also just complain no matter what you do and some kids just have a dislike of a subject.  For one of mine, I think it's the act of being required to do something that they don't want to do, rather than the particular task, that causes the complaining.  

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4 hours ago, Little Green Leaves said:

What does she dislike about math?

My son is strong in math too but will sometimes say that he dislikes it. In his case, I take it as an extension of his general grumbling about being made to do things. I mean, he grumbles about math in roughly the same way as he grumbles about having to clear the table. It feels like a chore to him.

Now, obviously I don't want math to feel like a chore so I have started incorporating more games and also more exploration into his math. Big thanks to @square25 for giving me ideas! He's been really happy about that. There is still going to be some element of just buckling down and doing things in every subject, and I really really really don't want to feel like I have to make every moment of his school day fun, but at least now I don't have to hear about how he hates math. 

She says that she does not like the beasts. She's never been into comic books. 

She says that math is boring. She and my DH did a lot of puzzles last year. They used blocks and other manipulatives last year. She never thought it was fun but I think she liked it better than BA. 

They worked on fractions using m&ms. 

I just recommended Life of Fred to my husband. 

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

Did any puzzles appeal to her at all, or not? 

So, for the record, DD8 loathes manipulatives and refused to use them from age 4 (she would either draw a picture or talk it out.) Does your daughter actually need the manipulatives, or is her conceptual understanding solid enough that she can reason without them? 

Has your DH ever done any enrichment math with her like combinatorics or negative numbers or prime factorization or different bases? 

I think she was okay with puzzles. She didn't love them but didn't hate them either. She doesn't need manipulatives anymore and they haven't used them since last year. 

DH has never done anything like you mention. I know they discussed prime numbers last week and DH reminded DD that Skye recites prime numbers before soccer games in the Penderwicks on Gardam Street. Honestly math is not my thing so I generally stay out of the way. 

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My 10 yr dd, who is a very good math student, also disliked BA.  (Her older sister, also a gifted math student, strongly disliked AoPS alg and asked to stick with Foerster's.)

Neither of them particularly "like" math (as in enjoy it for what it is), but they don't dislike it either.  One of their sisters that is between in them in age moaned and groaned about math all of the time at that age.  She complained constantly.   I finally got tired of it and told her if she didn't stop complaining I was going to double the amt of math she was doing.  She kept whining.  I added MiF on top  of Horizons.  Guess what? Math is now one of her favorite subjects and will be pursuing a STEM major in college.

Some kids just whine.  I just refuse to listen to it.  If they are going to whine (and this is whining without good reason.....she was very good at math!), my policy is that if I am going to have to listen to them, I will give them a reason for the whining. 

So, while I educate my kids in a way where I want to embrace their interests, I equally expect them to do what is expected joyfully.  Whining is a huge no-go in our home.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Are you sure it is a problem with the programs?  How is she being taught?  Is your husband interacting with her during math time or is she struggling with it on her own?  Are there certain things she seems to hate more than others?

If you can isolate exactly what is hated that will go a long way with helping to find the solution.

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If she were younger I'd say try Right Start. But she's at about the end of it so that won't work. 

What about adding Hands On Equations? Something to look forward to other than her daily math program. 

I use Saxon which is about as dry as it gets, but I add in some of the more complex pattern block problems as well as Hands on Equations. So we don't do the same thing day in and day out. Maybe there is something she can find fun to add in? 

You know, since she is 5th grade, you might use one of SWBs tricks I remember from a talk. Hand her the Rainbow Resource catalogue and say "you pick the math program you want to try." And try it. Since she picked it she might be more likely to engage with it- theoretically at least. 

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7 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Yes, HOE has been a big hit here.  This yr we are focusing on pre-alg skills with detours to areas where she still needs conceptual work.  So, today we worked through a MUS alg lesson (which I cannot classify as anything other than pre-alg equivalent) but we also spent time with a dry erase board discussing the difference between the concepts of multiplying and dividing fractions and what they represent.  We have a good morning of drawing pictures on the board and her coming up with problems and drawing what they represented. 

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Just now, square_25 said:

Hm, I haven't seen the vids. How weird ARE the hats? 

Like he wore a beret I think at one point. It’s sort of his whole presence. 
 

He makes The Captain of Captain and Tennile look normal. And dapper. I’m going to call Mr HOE a zany type of fellow to put it mildly. The ancient videos make it moreso. 

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2 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Google images does not to it justice. I think the videos have to have been made in the late 80’s or early 90’s and he wasn’t a fashionista at the time. His current linked in has come a long way. 

He's going to have the most search hits ever.  I'm pretty sure everyone reading this just has to go see it now.

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2 minutes ago, Syllieann said:

He's going to have the most search hits ever.  I'm pretty sure everyone reading this just has to go see it now.

He’s got some good Google analytics control because none of the 80’s stuff is on there that I could see.

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He and Jamie on MythBusters must be buddies.

OP, I’m going to venture another angle. It maybe partly her age. Does she complain about other  things a lot, too? 9-10 yr olds, especially girls, got stuff going on.  Pick a program and just buckle to it. I would suggest one of the Singapore (not MM) flavors. And your dh may need to change how he teaches.  Liping Ma’s book would be worth picking up for him to read. 

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I'm lost.  Are there HOE videos? 

Me too.  Of course the last time I used HOE was like 10 years ago.

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3 minutes ago, EKS said:

Me too.  Of course the last time I used HOE was like 10 years ago.

I used them up through May.  I have only ever used the verbal problems book, so no idea that there were videos.  (But, even if I did know, I probably wouldn't use them anyway.  😉 )

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11 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

My DH is responsible for math in our homeschool but I'm the one who does the research and finds different options. 

Our DD has always been strong in math. She picks up the concepts easily. 

We purchased Math Mammoth last year for our first year of homeschooling (4th grade) but DD did not really like it. I think it had too many problems and was too dry. My DH dropped MM and spent most of the year working with c-rods to make sure DD was solid in multiplication and division. DH also spent a lot of time working with DD on her math facts. My DH was a math major and he's very mathy but he's very traditional in his math thinking. 

DH and DD used Beast Academy this summer. My DH likes BA but DD really dislikes it. 

I'm trying to encourage my DH to think a bit outside of the box because I'm concerned that my DD consistently dislikes math. 

Question - is it asking too much for a kid to like math? Are there some kids who will always dislike it even if they are good at it? 

Or does that mean that we have not found the right program? 

Is the goal for a child who claims to dislike math to get to feeling neutral about math (neither like nor dislike)? 

I feel like something more hands on and story based might be a better option for DD. 

Children aren't always going to like math, but I don't think it needs to be something that they *consistently* dislike.

Maybe she'd just like something very traditional, like Rod and Staff Publishers. Or Saxon, which is a little less traditional than R&S, but is definitely not BA.

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2 hours ago, Paradox5 said:

He and Jamie on MythBusters must be buddies.

OP, I’m going to venture another angle. It maybe partly her age. Does she complain about other  things a lot, too? 9-10 yr olds, especially girls, got stuff going on.  Pick a program and just buckle to it. I would suggest one of the Singapore (not MM) flavors. And your dh may need to change how he teaches.  Liping Ma’s book would be worth picking up for him to read. 

Good luck!

I've recommended that book to my DH. My DH does not geek out about pedagogy like I do. He's mathy but I don't think he's ever thought much about teaching math, KWIM? DD did MiF when she was in school. She didn't like that much either. 

She's not a big complainer but what she really wants to do is spend all her time playing role playing games on Roblox with her friends while chatting on Facetime. 

19 minutes ago, calbear said:

I'm going to throw out an unusual suggestion. Maybe look at Crewton Ramone's House of Math. This is a Mortensen approach to math.

https://www.crewtonramoneshouseofmath.com

DH actually did some of this with DD last year. 

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I have one kid who is good at and intuitive with math. Trying to get him excited about it was so futile, though. It just felt like such a waste of time to him. His own interests are sooo strong in him; they are like nothing I have ever personally experienced- I just don't care about anything (except the kids) like he does. And math is a great big old not-his-thing! He might not like get-er-done math, but he LOATHES math that tries to be cute or fun. 

With him I landed on getting math over with as efficiently as possible. He used all different programs: CLE was his favorite but he was happy to switch it up. Rays, MM, Singapore. ::shrug:: He's going into high school math now and he's keen to stick with Saxon [he liked Jacobs, as did I, but the lack of completely complete solutions drove us both up the wall. Good thing we tried it in 7th grade, or I'd be ticked at the time lost.] all the way through. We'll see! 

18 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Question - is it asking too much for a kid to like math? Are there some kids who will always dislike it even if they are good at it? 

 

 

I do think it's unreasonable to expect all kids to like math. We don't expect all kids to like cooking or scrubbing toilets. We just teach them how to do it and let them get on with their own life. At the same time, we can never assume that our children will like or dislike the same stuff to the same degree tomorrow, much less far into the future. So we just keep on keepin' on, doing what we think is best. 

So what has worked for us has been to get it over with and take the next step every day. But since you say you think she might like hands on and stories, look at weird stuff. Wild Math, Horse Lover's Math, Math By Hand, whatever . Get the Denise Gaskins books and the Family Math books and Kitchen Table Math and play all the games. Maybe it will spark. 

Whining, though, does not count as a personal interest 😆 

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11 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I'm lost.  Are there HOE videos?  

Mine came with a set! But like I said, they have to be from the late 80’s. I need to find them and look at the copyright date. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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3 hours ago, square_25 said:

But deciding a kid doesn’t like math because they aren’t into arithmetic is like deciding a kid doesn’t like eating because they don’t like broccoli. 

So true. At least a couple of my math profs made a show of not being fluent at / caring about arithmetic because I think they wanted to signal that's not what they do all day. 

Here's a solution to the problem of getting through arithmetic so that we can work on more interesting stuff that I am trying to implement with my older son: (1) cover most of the concepts (place value, basic operations, etc) thoroughly with fun games before starting formal math; ensure solid understanding. (2a) Breeze through a curriculum to ensure extra practice and coverage of any areas I may have left out. Once the basic concepts are solid, elementary curricula become easy(-ish). I know you, square, don't need this step at all, given that you are a mathematician and a math teacher, so you know exactly what you're doing, which is amazing!!! (2b) Throw in an addictive, fun, solid math facts game that the kids ask to play in their free time (and the mom plays herself at night after the kids are asleep 🤭) (4) Enjoy math that's not arithmetic!

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5 hours ago, square_25 said:

What’s she learning about now, do you know? And do you know if she’s ever liked any of it?

Learning about in math or her other subjects? 

In math, I think they are working on fractions and decimal points now. They got a little behind in math last year because my DH had back surgery last year.

I would say that she's always indifferent about math. It was always her best subject in school in terms of performance but she would always say it was her least favorite subject. Sometimes she will say that she "hates" math and other times she says she says she doesn't like math. 

When she was in school, the teacher had a math club and had puzzles and extra questions for kids who liked math but DD was never interested. I never pushed about that. 

Her 1st grade teacher told me that she didn't give DD math puzzles to do because DD was slow to finish her math in class. I asked DD about this and DD asked why she would want to get her work done earlier just to get more work. It's hard to argue with that logic. 

In her last year of school (3rd grade), she began saying that she was not good at math. 3rd grade was a hard year for DD overall. The class had 30 kids so it was way too big. She was unhappy most of the year and her grades fell except in math. Her grades fell because she stopped turning in all of her work. I found the work in her backpack but she didn't turn it in so she got zeroes. 

In 3rd grade, she started claiming that she was not good at math. The kids she said were good in math were all boys. IDK - it was just a bad situation overall which is why we pulled her out of school for 4th grade. 

What does it mean - "good at math?" IDK. Her math scores on standardized tests have always been high. Her last standardized test was the Iowa Test in 3rd grade. I can't remember her math score but it was in the mid 90th percentile. My DH was a math major. My father was a math major. They're very mathy. 

I would said the same thing about math in elementary school that my DD says about it now. I don't remember it being hard but I never liked it. I took only as much math as I was required to take. I got through calculus and that was it. I'm sure that I never understood the concepts behind what we did. For example, what were we doing when we borrowed and carried? I didn't understand that until I worked on regrouping with my daughter. Huge lightbulbs went on for me then. 

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1 hour ago, OneThoughtMayHideAnother said:

Throw in an addictive, fun, solid math facts game that the kids ask to play in their free time (and the mom plays herself at night after the kids are asleep

What is this game?

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5 minutes ago, OKBud said:

What is this game?

https://www.roomrecess.com/mobile/MQ2/play.html

There is also MQ1, which is an earlier version of the same thing. These are adventure games that cover all addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, starting with easy addition and building up. They provide a crazy amount of practice. It's not just a game with some fact drills thrown in here and there. The player has to answer Qs all the time in order to keep playing. My son loved the game so much, he chose to use all of his screen time allowance on it. He was quite little when he did it, so I had to help him a bit with navigation, etc at the beginning. In the end, he played independently. The game is a bit addictive for some, which is a concern, but it does come to an end, so it's not like the kid will be dependent on it for life. We haven't touched it in months now, but our math facts remain rock solid. 🙂

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7 hours ago, square_25 said:

But deciding a kid doesn’t like math because they aren’t into arithmetic is like deciding a kid doesn’t like eating because they don’t like broccoli. 

This a million times!

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3 hours ago, square_25 said:

By the way, my kiddo is utterly uninspired by puzzles. She does like the Beast Academy comics, though.

Have you ever looked at Math Kangaroo problems? Do you think she’d like those?

Not sure. I've never heard of them before. I'll have DH check it out. 

Part of our issue is that I'm the one who does the research but my DH is the one who does the work. 

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6 minutes ago, square_25 said:

Maybe you don't need to farm out the math to him entirely? 🙂 Just because he's mathy doesn't mean he's a great teacher. It's possible working together would go better? 

He's getting better and it's a big relief to not have to deal with math. I work full time and homeschool. I really need my DH to do his share. 

 

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Maybe Mathematical Reasoning? It's colorful, has some puzzles/patterns/etc to do, but normal math otherwise. 

I was similar as a kid. I never struggled, I just didn't enjoy it. Bleh. If she gets concepts easily, something with shorter lessons would likely be fine. It was all the problems that drove me nuts. 

OH!

And Math Mammoth is mastery - all the problems are the same topic. Not sure about Beast Academy, but I think those are too! What about trying a spiral program, where there are a few questions about the new material, then the rest are mixed review? That's a lot less tedious for some kids. Mixes it up. CLE and Teaching Textbooks are like that. (probably could do a grade ahead with Teaching Textbooks if she's quick to pick stuff up. Or do on grade level if she needs the confidence boost)

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