4 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Math Confidence

It's important to help increase your child's math confidence because confident students learn more.  Why?  One major reason is that they don’t give up.  Students who believe they can find a solution aren’t stopped by mistakes or difficulty.  They keep thinking and try to find a different approach.  This leads to deeper understanding, more flexibility in problem-solving, and more efficient mastery of concepts.  These students are also likely to spend more time doing math since they are happier while studying it.  More time leads to more progress.  Focusing on increasing your child's math confidence can increase the time your child is willing to wrestle with math concepts. Another factor is attitude.  Confident students look forward to thinking mathematically and have a positive outlook as they approach new concepts.  Students who fear that they won’t be able to figure it out may be apprehensive.  This stress can actually lead to the release of hormones that make thinking more difficult.  By putting effort into increasing your child's math confidence, you can help your child's brain be more ready to think through tough problems and remember new strategies later.There are many more reasons to want our kids to be confident in their mathematical thinking, but let’s go ahead and talk about how to boost your child’s math confidence.1. Be confident - it's contagious!Make it very clear to your child that you believe in her mathematical thinking abilities.  When you consistently convey that you are confident that she can understand the concepts and solve the problems, she will begin to believe it, too.  This doesn’t mean that you keep pushing when she’s tired or may truly not be ready for a concept.  Make it clear that you’re stopping to give her very capable brain some rest and that you know she’ll be able to figure it out eventually.  Good mathematical thinking takes time and isn’t always done in one sitting!2. Be positive - find what's correct.None of us enjoy being wrong.  We all feel better about it when someone begins by telling us what we’ve done correctly.  Take the time to examine your child’s work or listen closely to his explanation.  Even if there are mistakes or flaws in his reasoning, find a positive place from which to start.  Maybe he realized the problem called for adding the numbers together, but his computation was incorrect.  Maybe he drew an accurate picture to help him solve the problem, but wasn’t careful as he counted.  Perhaps he underlined the important information in the problem – we can still praise that even though he had no idea how to begin solving it!  There’s a big difference between how a child reacts when he hears “No, that’s wrong.  Let me show you how to do it,” as compared to, “I can see that you drew the four pigs in a pen, just like it described in the problem.  That’s a great start!  Let’s see if we can figure out together what we need to do next.”  3. Be involved - share your thinking.When you think aloud as you solve a problem, children become more familiar with the problem-solving process.  They understand that you don’t know the answer immediately when you look at a problem (even though you may arrive at it very quickly when the problem is simple). Rather, you must go through a process of understanding the question, pulling out the necessary information, figuring out what calculations must be done to find the answer, and then using efficient strategies to solve it.  This builds children’s confidence because they know how to approach a problem and that it is okay to take some time to think through it.  We can also share with our children that when we think about a problem in different ways and hear someone else’s thinking, it extends our understanding and we become better mathematicians.  I had to make it clear to my daughter that when I shared my thinking about a problem, it wasn’t because her thinking was wrong or mine was better. It was because I wanted to deepen her understanding by sharing another way.  4. Be reassuring - explain the process.Help your child understand that good things happen in math when we’re willing to work in our uncomfortable zone.  We build on what we know and work together to push into new levels of understanding.  This can feel confusing at first, until our brains sort it all out and make the right connections and we finally say, “Aha!  I get it!”  My daughter was always more willing to keep thinking even when something was difficult and confusing once I explained to her that I didn’t expect her to completely understand it, but just to try and see how much she could figure out.  We often worked beyond her grade level, just to get used to the feeling of mathematical exploration and lay some mental groundwork for the future.  She was very motivated by the thought that she was working on math that much older children typically learn!Keep these ideas in mind next time you work on math with your children.  Work on increasing their math confidence in order to maximize the amount of time they're willing to work on math and keep their brains in learning mode. Help them become confident mathematical thinkers who will approach even very difficult, multi-step problems with thoughtful confidence.Click here to learn more about how Homeschool 4 Real Life can help you teach math in ways that boost confidence.

Take Time to Reflect

As a parent, it’s important to take time to reflect on how things are going for our kids and for our family in general.  Homeschooling makes it even more critical that we do this.  For one thing, it gives us a few minutes to sit down, put our feet up, and still be doing something productive!Good days and bad daysTaking time to reflect is just as important on good days as on the bad ones.  We need to think about what went well, why it went well, and how we can make more of that goodness happen!  On bad days, we need to pause and remember that it was just one day, one tiny piece of our life and learning with our children, and it’s okay!  The most important thing is to consider the root of the problem and what we can try to do differently that may be a step in the right direction to help other days go more smoothly.Topics for reflectionWhat is it that we’re reflecting on during this time?  Well, the list really could be endless.  Just choose one or two things that really stand out when you think about your day or things that you want to work on the next day. Maybe you'll spend time thinking about where to find ideas for instruction or practice for a certain concept or skill. You may want to think about how your kids are feeling (about their learning or other things) or how well they're getting along. Thinking about how you want to prioritize the various ways your family spends homeschool time can also be valuable. When my children are having difficulty with something, spending some time thinking about what could be causing the problem and what might help can increase the wisdom with which I respond. This will help me to be better prepared to handle issues the next day.  I might even decide that it would be a good idea to talk with the kids and help them brainstorm solutions the next morning, before we dive into school work and other parts of our day. Benefits of reflectionTaking time to reflect along the way can make our homeschooling journey more calm and peaceful.  It can also help us to have more fun and learn more effectively.  Don’t ever think that time spent thinking and praying about how to best support your kids and your spouse while still taking care of yourself is frivolous or wasted.  In reality, it’s probably among the best ways you could spend a few minutes at the end of your day. You should walk away from your time of reflection feeling like you have a better handle on how your family is doing and what they need.  You may want to jot down a list of what you plan to try or what resources, information, or support you need to find.  Even if you don’t come up with plans or solutions during your reflection time, you’ve still laid valuable groundwork for progress the next day.Time well spentSometimes we get so busy trying to squeeze everything into the hours of each day (there are never enough!) that we forget to pause and think about if we’re happy with how we’re spending those hours.  It will benefit your children (and you!) so much if you take the time to reflect on the ups and downs and what steps you can take to increase the enjoyment and effectiveness of homeschooling for your family.  Don’t feel like you have to find all the answers and figure out how to have everything picture-perfect the next day.  Just becoming more aware of where you’re at and where you’re going will benefit you and your family, and you can start working on the first steps you’ll take to make progress on that journey.  Remember, if you need some ideas or support, we’d love to talk with you in the community forums at H4RL.com or connect with you on our Facebook page!