Overcoming her fear of math has been tough for my adolescent daughter. But with plenty of support — and a lot of parental patience — she's finally moving past meltdowns.
by Amanda Driscoll
One of the worst four-letter words in my house is spelled M-A-T-H. For a few years, this word has sparked panic attacks and meltdowns in my middle child, Quinn. Because she so detested the subject, attempting to do homework, study, or tutor her here at home caused many a dinner-table battle. Things like addition facts and money value took forever for her to memorize. Studying multiplication facts typically ended in someone (usually me) in tears. While she can ultimately understand the concepts, it is at a much slower pace than most students.
In fact, her teachers and I had been so concerned about her performance in math, that we recently had her assessed for a potential learning disability. I'd learned that it wasn't uncommon for ADHD kids to have this issue. When we learned that she doesn't have a learning disability, we were all initially struck with mixed emotions. Of course it was a relief to learn that she didn't have a disability, but I was left thinking, "What now?"
The bottom line I got from the assessment was that math just isn't Quinn's thing. She knows that, worries about it, and it creates panic, further hindering her learning. Our biggest task: build self-confidence. This began with a conversation about her assessment. I was able to tell her that she can learn math, just a little slower and with more work. She's a fantastic reader and can spell any word thrown at her. While math may always be a challenge, I made it clear that I wasn't going to give up on her, and we'd survive this, together. And with that, we're finally making progress!
Luckily, Quinn has a very supportive team of educators behind her, too. I believe that this is the most important piece to children’s academic puzzles. They need support from positive people and can tell when someone believes in them. We recently added an at-home tutor as a part of Quinn's math plan, which has helped reduce the dinner-table battles. She knows that her tutor will give her one-on-one attention, weekly. Not only are we seeing progress in her performance, but, math is now becoming less of a bad word in our house. In fact, math-tutor day is a day she now looks forward to every week!