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How to Teach Math to Kids Who Hate it (or maybe it’s you!)

Posted by Michelle Osborn on

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Some children were created with math brains and it comes easy, and some are better at music or language arts. Instead of getting frustrated with the kids because the kids are frustrated with math, change things up for both of you. When tears start happening, this is what I do.

  • If using a textbook, I let them do the practice problems for the new concept, and then just the even or odd numbers for the rest of the lesson. Or they take off the last five problems.
  • Set a timer and let them do thirty-five minutes of math (making sure they are using that time actually doing the math).
  • They know they always get a snack at math time.
  • If they already know the material and can demonstrate that by getting the first row of answers correct, they can skip to the next portion of the lesson.
  • Sit with them for the especially difficult problems and get help where needed. has been helpful for those middle-grade-through-algebra problems that are tricky.
  • Occasionally, we exchange math time for a math game, such as Uno, Monopoly, Allowance, Rubikub, or another math-related game based on age.
  • Hold competitions with times table memorization (flash cards) and math Wrap-ups.
In case you are feeling guilty about not making them complete all the math problems, don’t. You are incorporating math into their life every day. Here are ways you can do more of that:
  • They can demonstrate fractions at lunch with their sandwiches, pizza, apple slices, etc.
  • Have them divide portions per number of people in the family with chocolate bars, candies, etc.
  • Have them double or triple recipes when cooking or baking.
  • Involve them in the costs of items at the grocery store and have them find the cheapest unit price by ounce or pound, etc.
  • Let them earn money (extra chores) for wanted items, making sure they research the best prices.
  • Let them pay the cashier and know how much change they should get back.
  • With any money they receive, go over tithing, saving, and spending, and what percentage each is.
From games to manipulatives to workbooks, textbooks, and online learning–many math approaches are reviewed here. Maybe you will find something new to try!

If there are tears, ease up on being the mean math dictator, and add in a little fun or variety. And most importantly pray, and ask God to give you wisdom and direction for each child. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask. 

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