DOESN’T Come Easily by Kathy Kuhl
ost adults can recall feeling a momentary panic in a math class at one time or another, but some children feel despair about math daily. They may struggle through math lessons for many reasons: attitude, handwriting difficulty, poor number sense, language-based learning disability, or difficulties with memory, fear, or discouragement. We can address these effectively in many ways.
Handwriting Difficulty Here are quick strategies for handwriting struggles: • Teach correct numeral formation to reduce stress on hand and arm. • Use number stamps and an inkpad instead of writing. • Turn notebook paper sideways. Use the lines to keep the digits aligned. • Align numbers with enlarged graph paper or create this yourself. • Allow math dictation software. • Provide graphing calculators for algebra and beyond. Students can demonstrate changing slope and y-intercept and see effects without laboriously plotting each point. • Practice math facts with non-written exercises: games, flashcards, oral recitation. Kathy Kuhl, author of Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner and Encouraging Your Child, is a friend to Simply Classical and can be found at LearnDifferently.com. Kathy lives in Virginia with her husband with whom she enjoys traveling worldwide, including visiting their grandchildren.
When Math Doesn't Come Easily
Number Sense Some children suffer from poor number sense. Does your son understand that "four" = "4" = "this many" (4 physical objects)? If your student divides 100 by 8 and gets 125 (instead of the correct answer of 12.5), does he think to question how the quotient can be larger than the dividend? Here are some ways to improve number sense: • Build bundles of craft sticks to teach place value: ones, tens, ten tens to make a hundred, and ten hundreds to make a thousand. Then build numbers, add, and subtract with them. • Give varied measurement cups for pouring water (or sand in a sandbox). • Use games with dice and dominoes to teach subitizing (rapid recognition of how many objects are in a small group without counting). • Build numbers with base ten blocks, then add and subtract with them. • Cut paper plates or tortillas into half-circles, one-, two- and three-quarter circles, and one- and twothirds circles. Show two pieces and ask which is larger. Give practice in finding equivalent fractions and then adding with them. • When introducing integer arithmetic, have your child step up and down stairs to act out addition and subtraction. Begin at a landing, representing zero. For example: 6 + -2 means go up six, then down two.