Why do kids refuse your help with Maths when they obviously need it?

When you’re trying to show your child something in Maths, sometimes they won’t listen, or they argue -That’s not how you do it , or they chuck a tantrum and storm off.

Why do they do this, when you’re just trying to help?

About kids

Kids know when they don’t understand something, but they often pretend they do understand because they’re afraid their lack of understanding will be exposed. Yes, they do care what their parents think! By creating a storm, they’re trying to protect themselves from this exposure.

Kids who guess a lot in Maths are also attempting to cover up their lack of understanding.

About parents

Parents often think that if they show their child something once or twice, they’ll get it and be fine. When this doesn’t work, parents get frustrated and often blame the child. Whether they voice this or not, the child picks up on it, and feels worse. They don’t want the parent to help any more and so the protests start.

Why kids often don’t understand your explanations

1 The work is currently at too high a level for this child, and so any explanations are going to go over their head. This is a very common issue with Maths homework (and Maths at school). The child needs to be taken back a step (or two or three) and have explanations and experiences at that level. The teacher should adjust the homework. Otherwise it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.

2 The homework is slightly above the correct level for this child. You explain it and the child seems to understand it, but then loses it again. You explain again and the same thing happens. This means the child really doesn’t understand it yet, and needs a lot more modelling from you, and then practice. If you reduce the size of the numbers to below 10 when you’re explaining something, you’ll find it often makes a huge difference. You can slowly increase the size of the numbers when you see that the child does understand properly.


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