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Letting the Fear Go

The back cover of Math: Facing an American Phobia states that “more than two-thirds of American adults fear and loathe mathematics. Math is right up there with snakes, public speaking, and heights.”

Perhaps you’re one of those two-thirds. Perhaps you’re afraid of how to teach your child math…especially as you approach or enter high school. Maybe your fear is that they’ll encounter a problem you can’t help your child solve…or maybe you’re afraid your child won’t succeed in a career because you missed something in math. Perhaps you’re afraid of others’ criticism and their remarks about how behind your student is.

With the traditional school year upon us, I just want to remind us all (myself included!) that God has not given us a spirit of fear.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

As you think about teaching math this year, focus your heart on God’s greatness. He created and sustains the consistencies around us that make math possible. He knows you and your child intimately. And He will never leave or forsake us.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

As always, feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail with thoughts or questions!

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4 thoughts on “Letting the Fear Go

  1. Thank you so much for your ideas! I will certainly try your suggestions. I actually have some Making Math Meaningful; I had not thought to try it with her. I also have one other series that approaches each subject in one book – Attacking Addition, Subduing Subtraction, etc. I had thought that might help her at one point because she could focus on one aspect without worrying about the others, but it did not seem to click with her several years back when we tried it. Memorizing has always been very, very difficult for her – math facts, alphabet sounds, Bible verses, spelling words, etc. She finally made it all the way through Green Eggs and Ham, her first book, at the age of ten with her four year old sister looking over her shoulder to help her with any hard words. All the years she tried to learn to read, we patiently did letter sounds every day; she would know them maybe three days in a row, and then seem to have never seen them the next day, for years. Math facts are the same way. She also can only skip count by a few numbers, so figuring out a multiplication fact does not work for her. Goodness, when I read what I have written it sounds like we did not try, but we have been diligent and patient to work with her in so many ways over the years! She is just now learning to drive, too, as we saw that her reaction times when faced with a dilemma would be inadequate for safe driving. Fortunately God has blessed her with a healthy sense of self-confidence, and she does not struggle emotionally over what she cannot do. She knows she is a very gifted painter. She loves to cook and truly enjoys helping out with her nieces and nephews. She is a delight to be around, and people who discover her educational struggles are generally very surprised!

    1. “Goodness, when I read what I have written it sounds like we did not try,”

      It doesn’t sound that way to me at all–it sounds as if you’ve tried a lot! Your daughter sounds like a very special young lady God has just gifted in other amazing ways.

      Reading your explanation of the memorization difficulties did make me think of a couple more things, which you may have already tried or might be way out of bed, but I’ll throw them out there. How does she do with memorizing songs? If she does well, perhaps made up math fact songs could help (I think someone makes skip counting songs). If she’s more pictorial, Dianne Craft has some thoughts on teaching what she terms “right brain” students. They include using pictures and stories to memorize math facts. Here’s a link to an article she has on the topic: (I’ve not really looked at Dianne Craft’s materials in depth, but this article looked as if it had some unique approaches.)

      Anyway, let me know how things go. I am asking the Lord to help you sort the different possibilities out before Him. He’s the only One who knows exactly what each of His dear sheep need…and when. – Katherine

  2. I was always a good student, and I loved my math courses, so I have not had the usual fears about teaching math. Unfortunately we have a daughter, now 20, who just cannot grasp the simplest math concepts no matter what we have tried. I have a fear of leaving her without basic skills! She decided on her own about a month ago to work her way through a Saxon math textbook, and so far she excitedly reports not missing more than four or five problems on any practice set. She is doing Math 65. It makes me want to for her! None of her other siblings have had these issues. She was a late reader, but once she learned it she learned it well. She did fairly well at a young age going through the arithmetic books from Homestead Heritage with several of her siblings, but they end at level four. Since that time she has tried Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred, Horizons, and me sitting down just sitting down talking/working through basic math that we run across daily – all to no avail. I am open to suggestions, if anyone can share something.

    1. Pat, how wonderful that your daughter is still trying to learn! That takes courage and perseverance. I looked online at the description of the Homestead Heritage books–it sounds as if they taught everything really practically. Did that help her? How did she learn to read? Just trying to think of what might connect with her. I’m sure it will be so wonderful when it does click for her…there’s nothing like understanding something that was hard for us, especially if we learned spiritual lessons through the process. God works all things for our good.

      Some have used Revealing Arithmetic with older students to help them, as it goes through a lot of basic math, incorporating a lot of history along the way (but it’s not a full curriculum…I was just thinking maybe it would help her understand what we’re really doing in math). You could download the sample to see if you think it would help. You could also try some general everyday math books from the library (such as The Only Math Book You’ll Ever Need) or other books designed to teach adults math–perhaps a more book-type feel would be less intimidating? You’d just want to find one that wasn’t over the top. Making Math Meaningful (Cornerstone Curriculum) and Professor B math comes to mind as possibilities to look at if you’re looking for a different curriculum for her, although if she’s getting it with Saxon, good for her.

      Anyway, those are just some thoughts that come to mind. Hopefully some others will have some ideas to share too. Asking the Lord to give you both wisdom and patience with it. – Katherine

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