Messed up in Math


Our granddaughter goes to public school and she is struggling so hard with math. The school has really messed her up and is teaching her things backwards. When we try to help her it confuses her. They are teaching her to do math problems from left to right, to do all of her borrowing before she even starts to subtract right to left. She hates math because of it and it is so hard to get to work on her math homework. We tell her how important math is and how she will use it the rest of her life. Do you have any suggestions that would help us?


It depends on how much time you can commit to this, but if you are able, the ideal would be to take her out of school during math period. Usually math comes first in the school day, so working with her first thing in the morning, and then taking her to school might be a good option.

Math is a basic skill that must be mastered in order to move on with her education. If they are “messing her up” in math, it is pretty important to get her out of that situation, if you cannot work with the teacher to make a change. If not, tell the school you will be taking her out for private instruction in math, and get the textbook they are using and the schedule they are on, so that you keep her up to date. If the math book is faulty, then you’ll want to use Singapore Math or Saxon Math instead. Test her—both companies have free placement tests online—and find out just where she needs to start.

If you can work with the math book, and it is just the teacher that is doing things confusingly, then using the math book will help her transition back into her school class eventually. Focus 10 min. daily on doing math facts, if your granddaughter is not proficient in the basic facts. If you work with her daily on math, you will be very surprised how much more you can accomplish with one-on-one tutoring in the same amount of time the school takes!

If she is feeling resistant, do things to make it fun and help renew her attitude. Math is truly fun, and she needs to feel that enjoyment again.

Here are a few ideas to motivate her:

*Make a chart with bubbles (dime size) that represent a goal (15 min. steady work, 10 problems completed, math facts done for the day, or whatever goal is appropriate) and stick a dime on each bubble when it is earned.

*Let her choose to do evens or odds (problems) for the day, if it feels like she has too many math problems to do.

*Use hands-on items to illustrated the problems, such as Legos, beans, coins, etc. (I taught my daughter to subtract using shampoo bottles while I was taking a shower!)

chalkboard*Work on the chalkboard. It is easier to do math when it is big-sized and involves the fun of writing with chalk, too. You can hastily illustrate story problems to make it even more fun!

*Give her “points” for right answers, with a goal in mind. For example, if she wants a certain item or privilege, she could earn it by diligent effort.

*Use real life math to help her see how useful math skills are. Use receipts to practice rounding off numbers and adding a column, keeping the total hidden to self-check.

*Let her correct her own work using the answer key herself (with you nearby observing). Often this grown-up thing to do will make a child more careful with their work.

*Time her math facts practice with a stopwatch. Saxon has this built into their program and it is truly motivational to keep a graph recording the times, seeing progress more visibly.

wrapup*Use math facts games to make it more fun. I recommend  Math Wrap-Ups, Multiplication Songs, and others.

*Work math problems on a big sized scribble pad with colorful markers.

Best success!



May I recommend:

Hates Math

Indispensable Math Facts


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