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What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #2

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

I’ve come to understand that many parents tend to misunderstand what is actually needed for a child in math crisis to become math-confident.

Did you know that parents of math-confident children have a very specific set of beliefs and behaviors that set them apart?

I’m on a mission to educate parents about this.

First (as I shared in my last article about this), math-masterful parents see high-level support as normal and desirable, both for their child and for themselves. (Full details here.)

Second, parents of Math Masters are no longer willing to suffer or wait.

Typical parents tend to respond to a child’s persistent math struggles by waiting and hoping that their math issues will just magically go away by themselves.

They will tell themselves things like, “Let’s just wait and see what happens,”
“Let’s see how my child does between now and the end of the year,”
or “It will start clicking for my child eventually.”

But almost always, what happens is, in the best case scenario, the child barely manages to keep their head above water.

Or, worst case scenario, the child’s math understanding spirals downward…and the situation just keeps getting worse.

In contrast, math-masterful parents face reality and take control.

They understand on a deep level that if they continue to do the same things that aren’t working, they’ll just continue to get the same results.

Their child will struggle and suffer, and so will the parent.

So math-masterful parents choose to take a different action to create a different result.

When faced with an opportunity to receive support that will actually help their kid, they say yes and move forward.

As a quick example, one family was referred to me by a colleague at the child’s school. The student was tired of struggling and went to the math department head with her mom to ask for a referral to a math tutor.

This department head knew that the student loves to sing and dance, so she told her and her mom, “You should call Rebecca, because she sings about math.”

When the daughter told her mom, “Let’s call Rebecca right away,” they ACTUALLY called.

And we started working together almost immediately.

After our very first session, the mom emailed me that a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

And the mom’s relief only increased as her daughter continued to receive this aligned support and get consistently great grades.

Did I just describe *your* mindset? Do you see high-level math mentoring support as normal and desirable? Are you no longer willing to wait while your child continues to suffer from math challenges?

I would love to connect and explore how I could best support your family.

To take the first step, just fill out this application here:

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special appointment time for us to connect and get clear on what’s not working, what you want instead, and whether my work would be a fit.

I’m totally excited to hear from you!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related Posts:
What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #1
The secret ingredients of true math mastery
When doing your math homework just isn’t cutting it

What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #1

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

I recently had an epiphany.

I’ve come to understand that in my case studies and articles, I’ve been focused primarily on student behavior and student results.

Yet each of these transformations was only possible because of their parent’s behavior and beliefs.

Just like a Wimbleton champion works out differently than a typical person, or a billionaire invests differently than a typical investor, parents who set their kids up to be math masters (whether or not they’re involved in their child’s day-to-day learning) have a very specific set of beliefs and behaviors that set them apart.

Let’s look at exactly how you can choose to adapt these beliefs and behaviors to create this transformation into math mastery for your child.

1. Math-masterful parents see high-level support as normal and desirable, both for their child and for themselves.

A “typical parent” mindset is usually something like,

“If my child has a math tutor, it means that they are in some way ‘less than’ or ‘not smart,’ because smart kids don’t need help.”

And then they focus on getting away with as little support as possible, or ‘weaning’ their child off of the support they have in place, because they’re concerned their child will be dependent.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to truly be a master.

Masters receive the highest-level support available.

And they do so consistently.

You wouldn’t quit singing lessons after winning the lead in a musical.

You wouldn’t fire your personal trainer after qualifying for the Olympics.

You wouldn’t get elected President of the United States and then not have a cabinet.

Just like that, math-masterful parents understand that having high-level math support is normal AND desirable, and they set their kids up with the highest support available.

As a quick example, one mom came to me because her daughter was joyful about everything in her life except math, which made her miserable and anxious. And then the mom was also miserable and anxious.

Her approach was to set her daughter up with math support just like singing lessons and dance classes—as just another important piece in the big picture of her daughter’s life.

Now her daughter is happy and confident about math, and the mom is relaxed because her daughter is relaxed.

Did I just describe *your* mindset?

Do you see high-level math mentoring support as normal and desirable?

Are you no longer willing to wait while your child continues to suffer from math challenges?

I would love to connect and explore how I could best support your family.

To take the first step, just fill out this application here.

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special appointment time for us to connect and get clear on what’s not working, what you want instead, and whether my work would be a fit.

I’m totally excited to hear from you!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

PS. More secrets of math-masterful parents will be posted here – this is just #1 of 6!

Related posts:
Does having a math tutor make you a “loser”?
What to do when your kid’s math terrifies you
How to know when it’s time to stop tutoring your own kid

What to do when your kid’s math fills you with dread

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Parents routinely come to me with this situation. Your passionate, creative, unique, visionary kid has been struggling with math for months (or even years), even though they’re already giving it everything they’ve got.

You’re spending hours on Khan Academy every night trying to untangle your kid’s homework, teaching yourself so you can teach them. Instead of having dinner as a family, you’re working on math.

Your kid is so frustrated and stressed about math that they routinely break down and cry. Or maybe they’re just so anxious that you’re starting to pick up their anxiety yourself, and you’re struggling to filter everything you say, just to make sure you don’t snap at them.

You feel drained, burdened, even resentful. You come home from work, and instead of being excited to see your kid and have this precious time with them, you are filled with dread about the math you’ll need to help them with tonight. Again. Night after night. No end in sight.

And the days when they have tests are the worst. When you pick them up after school, you feel this knot in your stomach worrying about how they did.

You’re already worrying about the doors that will be shut to them if they don’t feel comfortable with math. You don’t care whether or not they pursue math as a career – you just really, really don’t want their math phobia to get in the way of their dreams coming true.

You might have even already taken then to a tutoring center and they hated it. Maybe they felt embarrassed that someone they knew might see them. Maybe they were just turned off by having to do worksheet after worksheet. And even though it was supposed to solve the problem, the tutoring center wasn’t able to help your kid either.

And you’re starting to feel extremely guilty, because even though you’re trying everything you can humanly think of, your superhuman efforts are not creating results. Your kid isn’t really understanding, they’re not really learning, and they’re not getting good grades. Sometimes you feel like a failure as a parent.

In a few years, your kid will be in college, out of the house forever, and right now, your precious time together as a family is being completely consumed by struggling with math.

You feel completely stuck.

Does this sound familiar? Is this what you’re facing?

Please know that you are not alone. Nothing is wrong with you. There is just something missing. You aren’t getting the support you need to truly understand, and neither is your kid, but that doesn’t mean that either of you is mathematically incapable. There’s just a gap between what you need and the resources that you have in front of you.

Please know that what you’re facing is not insurmountable. Just because you have been struggling for months or years does not mean that you have to struggle forever.

For example, I personally spent years struggling in silence with math and thinking that I was “not a math person.”

Now I’m on the other side, and I have helped many other families go from being completely consumed about math to feeling happy, relaxed, and confident about math – even in really extreme situations where a kid was so anxious about math they refused to do their homework unless they were sitting next to their mom, or, another example, where a previous tutor had told the family that math was like a foreign language and their daughter only spoke five words.

Please know that you don’t have to stay stuck. It is completely possible to find support that results in lasting math transformation – even if you feel like you’ve already tried everything and nothing has worked.

Please know that you don’t have to keep doing what you’re doing. If it’s not working, doing MORE of what’s not working is not going to create the transformation that you desire.

Please know that you don’t have to do this by yourself. You do not have to reteach yourself all of the math you ever learned. You do not need to be the one trying to ensure that your kid understands. You do not need keep spending hours on Khan Academy every night trying to figure out what they heck your kid is supposed to do. You do not need to continue to feel this dread about your kid’s next math grade.

If you’re ready to invest in world-class, one-on-one math mastery support for your passionate, creative kid, just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs.

Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to explore whether or not the magical way I work would be a good fit for you and your family! I can’t wait to connect and create this same lasting transformation for YOU!

Related posts:
How to know when it’s time to stop tutoring your own kid
Case study: an 8th grader goes from “math meltdown” to “math touchdown!”
What to do when you get a disappointing math test grade

Three simple steps to tell if your kid actually understands what’s going on with math

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Have you ever been helping your kid with math, and just really wanted to know whether or not they were getting it? Or maybe you got the feeling that your kid might be confused about something, but you couldn’t put a finger on what it was yourself. Well, let me share with you my special time-tested technique for dealing with this exact situation!

First, ask the question, “What questions do you have?” instead of “Do you have any questions?”

There are several reasons for this:

When we are asked “do you have any questions?” most of us have been socially conditioned to say “no,” without really thinking about whether or not we do need something cleared up. So asking “DO you have any questions” is not super effective.

“WHAT questions do you have,” because it assumes that you have questions, encourages people to actually try to come up with something they have questions about, instead of just glibly saying “no.” It also makes it normal to have questions, and treats the need for clarification as just a natural, built-in part of the learning process.

Second, wait up to seven seconds for your kid to respond. Why? Research has found that it usually takes seven seconds to formulate a question when you’re asked if you have one. This can feel really uncomfortable the first few times, since we’re not used to waiting like this. But it is absolutely worth it.

Third, only ask “What questions do you have?” if you genuinely want to know and you have time
to address the questions that your kid may have. If you don’t actually mean it, A, over time, the question will lose its power, and B, your kid will feel that they don’t actually have a chance to ask their questions and it just becomes a fake formality.

(I’ve had to be careful with this myself – for example, to not ask for questions when I only have 30 seconds left before I need to talk to my next student! If you’re in that kind of situation, just trust that you will be able to take care of the questions your kid has at a later moment when you can give it your full attention.)

Do you dream of your daughter or son receiving high-level, individualized one-on-one support that’s customized completely in every nanosecond? Do you prioritize investing in your child’s education above all else? Do you just want a caring professional to take over your family’s “math situation” so you can just focus on being a mom or dad, and not have to do the tutoring yourself?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m here for you, and I’m so glad we’re connected!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

“End the math freakout” live in LA: Tues 1/31 in Santa Monica

Friday, January 6th, 2017

I’m very excited about this rare upcoming West Coast appearance!

On Tues 1/31 at 6 pm, I’ll be speaking to parents at the Montana Avenue Public Library in Santa Monica, Los Angeles about how to raise a math-confident daughter!

Come and join me, and please spread the word to parents who you think may be interested!

Math can be an enormous source of parental anxiety, where even the most math-confident parents can find themselves stuck when it comes to supporting their own child. Make sure that math anxiety isn’t an obstacle to your daughter’s dreams.

You will discover how to support your daughter to achieve true mastery, rise to the top of their class, and even come to experience math as a source of joy and a type of self-expression.

You’ll walk away with clear steps, case studies, and tools that you can use immediately at home to ensure math confidence and success.

Talk title: End the math freakout: How to raise a math-confident daughter

THIS TALK IS FOR: Parents of creative, passionate, unique daughters from 4th grade through high school who are having issues with math and know that something needs to change.

Date: Tuesday, 1/31

Time: 6-7 pm

Location: 1704 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Cost: Free and open to the public.

I would love to see you there!
Sending you love,
REBECCA

The treachery of invisible math anxiety

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Getting ready for my upcoming presentation on Making Math Magical!

My brother introduced me to the term “math anxiety” while I was in high school.

When I first heard it, I felt massive relief that there was actually a term for what I was experiencing! That meant I wasn’t the only person suffering through it!

But math anxiety can mean MANY different things.

It can look like:

You’re doing everything you can, and you’re not doing well.

This is what a lot of people associate with math anxiety – despair, overwhelm, crying, puking, and most of all, failure and bad grades.

OR

You’re doing everything you can, and you’re doing “well,” but it doesn’t actually make any sense!!

This is what I call “invisible” math anxiety.

If this keeps happening, over time…

-you become afraid that’s something’s wrong with you,

-you become afraid that you’ll never get what you need (because you aren’t getting it now and you’re already doing your best)

-and you give up on it ever feeling clear, pleasurable, meaningful, enjoyable, or a cohesive whole that actually makes sense.

You just focus on—or settle for—going through the motions.

Getting through this night’s homework.

Getting through this test.

Getting through this class.

Getting through this degree.

What’s really insidious, and tragic, about invisible math anxiety, is that it can happen very slowly and even to students who appear very successful on the outside.

Recently, over dinner, a woman shared with me how when she was growing up, she got math tutoring and made Bs, but she never really felt like math made sense to her.

The tutoring was just about getting through her homework and getting through her tests.

She wanted to be a doctor, but chose not to do pre-med in college because she was afraid of the math requirements.

Then, when she worked in retail, she wanted to be a buyer—a powerful position as the person behind the scenes who chose the merchandise—but never sought that promotion because of all the math involved.

Worst of all, she ended up in an abusive relationship, because she didn’t think she could take care of herself financially on her own.

All because of math anxiety.

And this is a B student we’re talking about — who everyone else thought was doing fine!

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m on a mission to shift the paradigm from “just getting through it”

to “actually understanding it and mastering it and loving it”

so you can REALLY make your dreams come true,

instead of giving up on them out of math fear.

Math is a world in which we can all belong, in which we can all experience clarity and joy.

If you sense your child is struggling with any kind of math anxiety — whether it’s the classic “visible” type, or the more insidious “invisible” type, I’d love to connect and explore how I could support your child in truly loving and mastering math.

To take the first step, just fill out my super special application here.

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special time for us to talk on the phone about if my work would make sense for you.

Sending you love,

REBECCA

Related posts:
Afraid your math teacher will judge you?
What to do when your kid’s math terrifies you
Face your fears, get a higher grade

Are you tired of watching your kid give up on math? Or, the secret of the tiny crumb of doability…

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

What do you do when you see a problem full of weird things you’ve never seen before?

Or a super-long problem?

Or just a problem that combines things you’ve learned in a way you’ve never encountered?

What MOST people do is look at the problem, and as soon as they register it as “unfamiliar,” they give up.

They think, “I don’t know how to do EVERYTHING in this problem, so I must not know how to do it AT ALL.”

Like, “If I don’t know everything, I don’t know anything.”

But my students and I have encountered a fascinating phenomenon.

Hidden inside most “seemingly impossible” problems is a tiny crumb of do-ability.

If you find this tiny crumb and you start there…

… a lot of times, that’s all you need to get started…

… and once you get started, a lot of times, that’s all you need to get going… and solve it!

For example, a student of mine came across a problem that combined a bunch of negative and positive integers with brackets and parentheses:

[(-8*5)-(6*-9)](-2*3)

My student’s first reaction was, “I don’t know how to do this.”

Then she realized that she DID know how to do 8 times 5… (to quote her, she said, “I could do 8 times 5 like in second grade”)

…and then she remembered that negative 8 times negative 5 is positive…

…and by finding the “tiny crumb of do-ability”, she was actually able to get started and complete the entire “scary/impossible problem.” It actually took her less than a minute to do the whole thing!

And she observed, “All I had to do was use what I learned in 2nd grade,” just in a slightly more complex combination than before.

For another example, another student of mine got stumped when practicing translating English into math, a problem like, “The difference of seven times n and three is twenty-seven.”

Her first reaction was, “I haven’t learned this yet.”

She looked for the little piece she did know… which was that ‘is twenty-seven’ translates into EQUALS 27.

Once she got started with that little piece, she was able to build out from there, that ‘seven n’ is 7n, and ‘the difference of seven times n and three’ is 7n-3, all the way to the full translation, 7n-3=27.

To quote one of my students on how she felt after we worked on this approach together, “Problems are never so hard when you break them down. You can’t judge a problem by its length or numbers. Even if it just looks really hard, you have to break it down.”

So the next time you encounter a problem that just stops you in your tracks, looks super long or complicated, or overwhelms you with unfamiliar symbols, look for the tiny crumb of do-ability.

Even if it seems insignificantly small, a lot of the time it’s all you need to get on your way to the solution.

This is also a great way to practice deliberately being with the UNKNOWN and setting yourself up for revelations and lightbulb moments, like I wrote about in “Do you wish your kid could feel like Albert Einstein while doing math?”

Do you wish your passionate, unique, visionary kid could be supported in breaking things down and experiencing math as fun, do-able, and creative? Then let’s get you started with your application to my powerful private tutoring programs!

This application includes the super valuable opportunity to speak with me one-on-one and get clear about exactly what’s going on in your family’s math situation.

Just click here to get started with your special application.

Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to explore whether or not my magical math tutoring programs would be a fit for your family! I’m excited to connect with you!

Related posts:
How to help your kid with their math homework
How to get your kid talking about math
What changes when someone believes in you?
A 5th grader goes from believing “math doesn’t like me” to singing and dancing about math while wearing a purple tutu

Case study: a 10th grader goes from feeling like math is a foreign language to being the most-called upon student in her class

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

When this student first came to me just before the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, her mom told me that the tutor they’d just worked with had told the family that to this student, math was like a foreign language where she only spoke five words.

Somehow she’d made it to the end of 9th grade with Bs in math, but none of it actually made any sense to her. It was like she just knew enough to “get around” – like how to ask where the bathroom was and order a hamburger – but not enough to really understand what was going on around her, or communicate herself.

Once we started working together the summer before she headed into pre-calculus, this student’s mastery, confidence, and grades began to steadily improve. By mid-sophomore year, my student’s teacher mentioned to her that he had to be careful to call on other students because my student always gave the correct answer!

The “piece de resistance” was when my student had to take an oral final for her math class at the end of her 10th grade year. Her teacher gave them five very sophisticated problems that synthesized everything they’d ever learned in new ways they hadn’t seen before. They had unlimited time to prepare, and then each student was asked to explain one of the five problems, picked at random on the spot, in front of the entire class. My student did such a good job that she got an A, and she told me later that she walked out of that class feeling like, “I can do anything!”

When it came time for this student to decide what math class to take after pre-calculus, instead of taking the statistics class that many students take as a way to avoid math, my student opted to enroll in AP AB Calculus. Because math had become beautiful, fascinated, and intrinsically rewarding to her, she wanted to keep exploring and growing.

Here’s how this student and I worked together to completely transform her experience of math from a source of unbelievable stress and anxiety into a source of joy and strength:

1. We worked in an atmosphere of total camaraderie and trust. Our tutoring sessions were totally a lighthearted, safe zone where there was absolutely no judgement. This student was free to ask as many questions as she wanted, go over as many examples as she desired, or go over the same example as many times as she required, without any fear of being embarrassed.

2. We focused on filling in the gaps, while also addressing whatever she needed to learn that week or that day. When we would go over her current material and encounter a gap, we’d keep excavating backwards through the layers of prerequisite knowledge until we found the original misunderstanding. Then we’d fill that in, then the idea on top of that, then the idea on top of that, until we’d build back up through the layers to what she was responsible for learning today. This way she was able to repair gaps in her foundational knowledge, while also staying on top of her weekly curriculum and being prepared for tests and quizzes.

3. We really focused on approaching the material in a way that worked for HER. This particular student craves conceptual understanding, so we would approach the material from different angles until she understood WHY it worked that way. She also loves learning math visually, so we would frequently approach concepts and procedures in a visual way – like FOILing using a box instead of just parentheses – that made the concepts more intuitive for her, and easier to internalize.

During moments like this, she would share observations like, “I don’t know how I lived through math without completely understanding this, because it’s so much easier than I thought it was. My whole childhood with math has been completely relearned.”

As my student’s mastery naturally led to greater confidence and grades, her enthusiasm for math grew more and more. She recently shared with me, “This is actually so cool – when actually I understand it, it’s so much fun!”

Would you like your daughter or son to go from feeling like math is a foreign language to experiencing math as genuinely enjoyable, meaningful, and fascinating?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs.

Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special complimentary phone call to get clear if it would be a fit for me to support your child with math. I can’t wait to connect!

Related posts:
Case study: a 5th grader goes from believing “math doesn’t like me” to singing and dancing about math while wearing a purple tutu
Case study: a rising 8th grader masters her summer math packet
How to multiply binomials using a box (alternative to FOILing)
An easy way to remember how logarithmic notation works

I’m speaking about the future of math education: Wed 11/16, 6-8 pm, at the Connecticut Science Center

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

15.10.24STEMDuyTran (574)


I’m very excited to announce….

I will be serving as an expert panelist on the future of math education at the Connecticut Science Center, Wed 11/16, from 6-8 pm!

I would love to have you in the audience and meet you in person!

The details:

Date: Wed 11/16
Time: 6-8 pm
Location: Connecticut Science Center,
250 Columbus Blvd. Hartford, CT
Cost: $10 for general admission, $5 for museum members

To get your tickets click here.

The other panelists and the moderator are also going to be great:

Moderator: Marjorie Wikler Senechal, Ph.D, Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology at Smith College
Panelist: Fabiana Cardetti, Ph.D, Graduate Director for Instructional Development, UConn Department of Mathematics
Panelist: Gladis Kersaint, Ph.D, Dean UConn Neag School of Education

Hope to see you there 🙂

The biggest failure of my educational career

Monday, October 24th, 2016

15.10.24STEMDuyTran (573)

This is what mastery can look like – and feel like!

The biggest failures of my educational career weren’t the times I bombed a test.  They were the times when I completely disconnected from my own intuition and joy and self-trust.

Looking up every single word in a Latin text in the dictionary, conjugating each verb in a chart, and then agonizing over how to piece together some sort of meaning.

Staying up late with my algebra homework, trying again and again to make my answer match the one in the back of the book, and erasing until I cried with frustration.

Practicing certain cello passages over and over but still being unable to play them with confidence, or even actually losing control of my body when I performed.

What makes me angry is that this was actually rewarded.

My teachers would hold up my Latin homework as an example of how diligent I was as a student.  

But there was no connection between what I was being told to do and what I actually needed to do to understand the material.

I’ve come to understand that many times, there is a massive disconnect between what we’re being assigned to do, and what we actually NEED to do to learn.

Now, I do this with each of my students: discern exactly what they need to do, step by step by step, in order to deeply internalize the material until it becomes part of them. 

Even if it looks nothing like their homework assignments.

I call this having a “MASTERY ORIENTATION.”

For example, one sixth grade student who I was working with was really overwhelmed with percents. 

Her teacher had given her 12 different percent formulas to memorize, and my student didn’t know when to use which one. 

We boiled it down to 4 essential formulas.  

We practiced until she really mastered each one.

She knew how to recognize which one to use.

She knew how to use it to solve for different variables.

Because of this mastery approach, percents really became one of this student’s strengths.  

When percents came back up a year later, this student intuitively created a completely original, totally mathematically valid way of doing percent change that I had never seen before – in over 10 years of teaching percents!

The most important thing here is that this student was able to reconnect with her own self-trust, joy, and intuition around math, because she had truly mastered the material.

If you’re wondering how to do this in with your own child, a really easy way for you to immediately start supporting them with developing a mastery orientation is to ask your child to create their own original problem about a specific concept.  

This really helps students feel their ownership of the concept, and it also makes it super clear whether or not they understand the topic.

And if you’d like to explore if it would be a fit for me to support your family through one of my high-level, one-on-one math mentoring programs, I’d love to connect! To get started, just click here to fill out your application.

Sending you love,
REBECCA

PS.  I’m super excited to be part of an expert panel on the future of math education at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford on Wed 11/16 from 6-8 pm!  If you’re in the neighborhood, I would love to have you in the audience! Get your tickets here.

Related posts:
Five steps to true math mastery
Do you wish your kid could feel like Albert Einstein?
The secret to getting straight As in math
The secret ingredients of true math mastery