Step One: Make math meaningful:
What is important about this math
assignment your child has been putting off? List the benefits
of completing it. Be specific about the rewards for getting the
math done, including how your child will feel when they’re done!
Step Two: Take it apart:
Break the math problems up into
a series of smaller steps. If a list of 25 math problems intimidates
your child, divide the problems into small chunks, say five problems
at a time. After each problem has been done, cross each one off so the
child can see their progress.
Step Three: Write it down:
If your child can’t seem to
get started on the math assignment, you might write down a plan on a
3x5 index card. “I plan to complete at least 5 problems in fifteen
minutes.” Reward your child with 10 minutes of guilt-free I-pad time.
Post the index card onto the refrigerator where they will see
Step Four: Tell all:
Announce publicly your plan to
get the math assignment done. Have your child tell a friend they
plan to learn the times tables (say the 3, 4, and 5 tables) by a certain
date. Make the world your child’s support group.
Step Five: Find a reward:
Construct rewards carefully.
Be willing to withhold the reward if your child does not complete the
task. Don’t pick a movie as a reward for studying math
if you plan to go to the movie anyway. And when your child legitimately
earns their math reward, ask your child how it feels. Coach them
to be able to express feelings of success.
Step Six: Do it now:
The minute you notice your child procrastinating, have
them plunge into the task. Have them visualize themselves getting
the assignment done. Gradual immersion is sometimes slow torture.
It is often less painful to leap into the assignment. Then be
sure to coach them to savor the feeling of having the task behind them.
Read the book by Dr. Margaret
Murky, Quirky, Beserky Math, and discuss math feelings and
strategies from this humorous approach to math anxiety.
© Margaret Desjardins