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Topic: Uncategorized

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

Topic: Uncategorized

Five Steps to True Mastery

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Have you ever taken a math test you felt completely confident about, only to find out that you bombed it and you weren’t prepared at all?

Trust me, you’re not alone. But why does this happen so frequently?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And this is what I’ve realized.

True mastery takes more than one step. But I’ve never seen these steps discussed before like this.

And I definitely didn’t hear about this when I was in math classes growing up!

This is what I had to figure out all by myself, and now do in all of my one-on-one work with my own clients.

Let me break it down for you:

1. The first level of mastery: you can follow along passively when someone else is explaining a concept to you or demonstrating how to do a technique.

You aren’t actively participating, you’re just observing and listening, and what they’re saying makes sense.

2. The second level of mastery: you can do problems interactively with someone else.

You are actively participating as they walk you through the steps of the problem and you do it together.

3. The third level of mastery: you successfully complete a similar problem type completely independently and get the answer correct – and you understand why – without any guidance or corrections from someone else.

4. The fourth level of mastery:
you consistently get the answer right on enough similar problems that the concepts get internalized and the process becomes automated.

You have the track record that shows you that you really are prepared to go in and do this successfully on a quiz, test, or exam.

5. BONUS: The fifth level of mastery: you understand the concept and technique so well that you can easily and confidently teach someone else how to do it. When you get to this level, you know that you’ve REALLY got it!

Until you get to the point where you have at least “level four mastery” and consistently get the answer correct on problems of a similar type (and understand why), you aren’t really prepared.

For example, a student will passively understand someone else’s demonstration and think, “Great! I got it! I am ready to rock this test!” However, that is only level 1 mastery. Just because you can follow along with someone’s demonstration of how to bake muffins from scratch doesn’t mean your own muffins will taste good. Watching someone else do it is ONLY the first step.

Another place where major problems can happen is when students think, “Great! I did two of these problem types correctly and I understand them. I am ready to get an A!” That is like getting the basketball in the net twice and thinking that you’re ready to win the next game. It takes consistent training and practice to get consistent results.

Do you wish you knew exactly to do to get consistently awesome results in math?

Are you tired of doing everything you know to help your daughter or son prepare for math tests, only to experience soul-crushing defeat time after time?

Are you ready to invest in high-level, one-on-one, super-customized support that is not typical tutoring?

Then 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 way I work would be a good fit for you!

I can’t wait to connect!

Related posts:
On Optimal Challenge
Need to remember something important? Breaking news!
“It’s eraser time!” (And other math mantras)
“Interesting,” not “Complicated” (Math Mantras Part 2)

Topic: Uncategorized

Is your kid a creative, passionate, unique visionary of the future?

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Right now, there are two different models of learning in the world – the “enthusiasm” or “love” model of learning, which is all about growth, creativity, freedom, the enjoyment that comes from mastery, and learning so that you can fulfill your own vision.

Then there is the “fear” model of learning, which is competitive, has a scarcity orientation, is institutional, about checking off boxes, and outer-directed. There’s a terror of being left out, left behind, or found inadequate. If you fail, it means you’re fundamentally flawed. And it’s about kissing ass, meeting others’ expectations, and doing what your told.

Guess which model I’m about?

You are right. I am about the love!

It has become super clear to me that the kids I’m meant to work with are the next generation of visionaries. These are the kids with passion, who don’t fit in, who stand out from the crowd in some way.

Parents of these kids view their kid’s uniqueness as precious and inviolable. They want their kids to transcend the system, have the tools to flourish anywhere, and create their own life and reality. And right now they are experiencing math as a stumbling block.

These parents know that the world is not always friendly and supportive towards those who are different, and they want their kids to have the support they need to be resilient in hostile environments, and to be able to change their environment or even create their own environment.

Yet these skills are VERY RARELY, if EVER, taught in conventional educational environments, because our current educational model, for all its beauty and strength, is still at least 100 years out of date.

In fact, the characteristics and behavior needed to succeed in this new world are frequently actively DISCOURAGED (consciously or unconsciously), even in the most elite educational environments.

But these skills, and these passionate, creative, visionary kids, are exactly what the new world needs.

Because our world is truly, profoundly shifting.

The new world is all about being in your own unique zone of genius, having a vision, and the courage to unfold that vision and fight for it.

The new world is full of individuals sharing their souls and their unique gifts with vulnerability.

It’s about taking a stand for what you really want and what you really believe in.

It’s about the willingness to blaze your own trail – with like-minded mentors, guidance, and community – instead of following a pre-set career path.

This new world is about making your own game, or changing the game.

It’s about pleasing yourself, intrinsic motivation, and the deep satisfaction and joy of doing what you love. It’s about growing. It’s about self-direction and self-determination in a community of like-minded souls. It’s about synthesis and evolution.

On the other hand…

The old world is about filling a role, being obedient, and going through the motions. It’s about winning the game, thinking that there’s only room for one at the top. It’s about pleasing others in order to be rewarded with grades, money, or status. It’s about following a leader and regurgitating others’ ideas.

That’s what a lot of education prepares students for – the old world. But it’s not preparing students for THIS world, the new world.

And frequently these educational environments are downright unsupportive, if not openly hostile, towards the passionate, courageous visionaries of the future.

If you’re the parent of one of these kids, you know deep in your soul that your kid is actually going to need MORE skills to blaze their own trail.

They’ll need a deeper connection to their own truth and their own vision.

They’ll need to be more courageous, articulate, skillful, and strong.

They’ll need to be MORE resilient in the face of fear, doubt, disappointment, and confusion.

Because the path of a passionate visionary requires greater inner strength and outer skill than a pre-set path.

It requires a deeper and deepening connection to our own inner guidance, intuition, and even to God (whatever language you use – Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Source, Spirit, Soul, Guidance…).

I know, because this is what’s been required of ME.

In the world around us, there is just so much fear about what is changing. How the old sources of security, income, and structure are crumbling, or already gone. And people are fighting over the scraps.

Yet the other world of plenty is available. It’s right in front of us. The same tools that are dismantling the old order are the exact same tools that allow gutsy individuals to spread their vision, thrive, and be more rewarded than ever before. When the means of production and distribution are no longer centralized, it’s not about waiting for someone else to “discover” you or give you permission. It’s about having the guts to validate yourself and be willing to hold to your vision when no one else is seeing it. And the strength to keep going.

This new world requires new skills, new ways of navigating, and new ways of being, which are NOT taught or encouraged in the vast majority of conventional education.

So what do you do?

I am here to help these kids who are unique, who are creative, who are passionate, who have vision, and who stand out from the crowd.

I mentor these future visionaries. I know what it takes, because I am creative, passionate, visionary, and do not fit in. And because I have blazed my own trail – and I am continuing to do so every day.

I am here to help make math master-able and magical for these kids on a mission – AND to use math as a vehicle to learn these larger meta-skills that visionaries need and that the new world requires.

Does this resonate with you? Does this describe your kid and your family? Then I would absolutely love to connect with you.

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

Sending you so much love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
What I learned on the streets of Paris, and in a Dutch grocery store
I just can’t keep this a secret any longer
What a Balinese dancing queen taught me about praise and encouragement
Self-made heroes: the dancers of Planet B-Boy

Topic: Uncategorized

What to do when you get a disappointing math test grade

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Recently, one of my students shared with me she’d gotten a disappointing test grade. At first, instead of analyzing what went wrong and figuring out what she could do differently, she started blaming her teacher, saying she didn’t know what was going to be on the test, and started panicking, trying to calculate how the disappointing grade would affect her overall grade.

I thought this was so interesting, because this student has a completely different mindset when it comes to her passion of musical theater. We talked through what would happen if she made a mistake at a big audition, like missing a high note.

She laughed and she said, “Well, I wouldn’t blame the pianist for sneezing and then singing the wrong note because I was matching the pitch of his sneeze! I would figure out why I missed the note, and ask for help from my singing teacher so I could be more accurate next time!”

Somehow, she knew exactly how to adjust her approach with musical theater, and we talked about how to transfer that over to her math mastery process.

So let me share this exact same process with you – what to do and NOT to do when you’ve gotten a disappointing math test, so you won’t get stuck and can keep moving forward and creating what you want in your life.

1. Don’t despair.
Even if you feel like you got EVERYTHING wrong, there is hope. It just means there are things you haven’t learned yet, and if you work on them, you will improve. I’m serious!

2. Don’t internalize the failure.
A lot of times, when you get a crappy grade on a math test, it’s easy to think, “I will never get this,” “I am not a math person,” or “I guess I just don’t have a ‘math’ brain.” I know, because I used to have those thoughts all the time myself. Somehow getting a bad grade becomes like part of your identity! Even if everything feels completely, utterly impossible, remember, math is something EVERYONE can learn. It’s all about breaking it down and practicing.

3. Don’t give up.
A failure is only a true failure if you don’t use it as an opportunity to learn.

4. Don’t blame others for what happened.
It’s really easy when you get a test back to think, “Well, my teacher didn’t tell me THAT was going to be on the test,” or, “I didn’t know the test was going to be THAT day,” or whatever it is. But when you blame others, you completely give away your power to someone else.

Instead…

5. Take personal responsibility for what happened. When you take personal responsibility, you have the power to change your life. If you are willing to look at what actions you took and choices you made, you can change them and get a different result next time.

(Note: I know this can seem so hard, even ridiculous, to say, “Yes, I’M taking responsibility for the fact that I don’t get this.” I used to REALLY struggle with this. So maybe just try it as an experiment. Being willing to take more and more responsibility for the results of my choices has created so much change in my life. Even though I really resisted this initially.)

(And, taking personal responsibility can be as simple as admitting to yourself, “Yes, I do need help with this, and I’m willing to ask for it.)

6. Ask yourself what went wrong. Did you not know what was going to be on the test? Did you forget to study?

7. Ask yourself what you can do differently next time.
Can you ask your teacher for a list of topics to study? Can you write the test date into your planner, or put it into your phone? What will remind you to study?

8. Make a different choice.
Decide to ask your teacher for topics, and then do so. Write the test date into your planner. Create a reminder to study, and then study!

9. Ask for help.
If you are doing everything you can and you’re still not getting the results you want, ask for help! You don’t have to do this alone!

Do you wish someone could help walk you through this process and help you learn the parts that are confusing to you in a way that is fun and makes total sense? Are you tired of getting disappointing test results? Are you willing to invest in high-level support?

Then I invite you to apply for my one-on-one math tutoring programs!

Just click here to get started with your special application. 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 excited to receive your application!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
It’s eraser time! (and other math mantras)
How to make it safe for kids to fail
Failure is not the enemy
The rhyme and reason of making mistakes

Topic: Uncategorized

Tips for a Happy Math Year – #5 – Make Word Problems Routine

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

It’s time for our next tip in my special series, tips for a happy math year!!!


Make word problems routine.
The reason why our kids study math is so they can solve real world problems. Yet word problems sometimes get a bad rap. While translating English into math is a separate skill that goes above and beyond simple computation, everyone can develop this ability.

If your kid’s math book includes word problems, invite them to do one a day just for fun, even if it’s not assigned for homework. You can get free word problem worksheets at teachnology.

You can also make up your own word problems together while running errands or at mealtimes. A lot of kids like to make up their own math problems, and it helps them feel like math is something that is part of them, that they can create, instead of something arbitrary that comes from a textbook.

Practicing this can be empowering and fun at the same time.

Does your son or daughter struggle with word problems? Do you wish your kid had enough in their toolkit to be a confident, creative math problem-solver? Do you dream of your kid being inspired to see math as an ongoing source of inspiration?

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 excited to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
Case Study: a 7th grader goes from “I don’t get it” to getting 100 percents
When in doubt, talk it out
Case Study: a 5th grader emerges as a confident student and enthusiastic mathematician

Topic: Uncategorized

Tips for a Happy Math Year – #2

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Hey there! It’s time for the second tip in my five part series of Tips for a Happy Math Year!

And here it is…

Slow can be fast. Sometimes kids need more time to digest or absorb information than is planned for in their classroom curriculum. Maybe their teacher expects them to memorize all of their times tables from 2s through the 12s by the end of the grade, and but they’re panicky and spotty about their 4s.

It’s okay. If your kid needs more time, just keep working on it together and be patient. It’s better to thoroughly learn one new multiplication fact a day than to try to cram stuff in their brain that’s not sticking because the pace is too fast.

In my experience as a tutor, it is far more powerful and paradoxically, faster, to slowly learn something really well the first time, instead of having to go back and re-learn it over and over, or deal with the repercussions of everything else that doesn’t make sense because the prerequisite concepts are shaky. It’s all about staying focused on the process and not giving up.

Do you know that your kid needs more time than they’re getting in the classroom, but feel like it’s just not possible for you to give them that one-on-one undivided customized attention yourself? Do you want to invest in your kid having a safe space to ask any question they want without feeling embarrassed, and get all the practice they need to truly get math deep in their bones? Do you dream of your kid having a huge smile on their face about math, and embodying the attitude that, “hey, nothing can stop me from choosing to go for my passion, because I know I can do math, and it will never get in my way!”?

TJust 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 excited to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
Tips for a happy math year – #1
How to learn math when you’re in the car
How to find a good math tutor
When a math problem just takes For-EV-ah
How to help kids be okay with things being hard

Topic: Uncategorized

When you’re just not sure if it’s right

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Yesterday I was working with a student on some very sophisticated geometry problems that require a lot of synthesis and creativity. She had come to me with the questions she hadn’t been able to figure out from her summer geometry homework assignment.

For a second I thought she meant she hadn’t known how to start on the problem, but while I was putting the diagram up on the whiteboard for us to refer to together, she said, referring to her preparation, “I was just doing this big thing, and I don’t even know if it’s right.”

I was like, awesome! I was so happy that my student dove in and explored, even though she wasn’t sure if she had done the right thing.

When math becomes more demanding, it frequently requires two completely different skills: really internalizing everything you’re learning so much that it’s completely automatic, (like writing your name or eating with a fork); and THEN, being able to creatively combine those ideas, concepts, and strategies in ways you’ve never done before when you’re faced with something mathematically completely unfamiliar.

I told this student how proud I was of her that she had tried to solve the problem so extensively even though she wasn’t sure what to do – instead of just giving up or waiting.

I explained, “It just means that you’re in the exploration and experimentation zone, instead of the repeating and recycling zone.” We go through the process of internalization in order to flourish when faced with the unfamiliar.

And then, we train ourselves to be comfortable – even lighthearted and jubilational – when faced with something we’ve never seen before. To be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to ask ourselves questions like:

What could I try here?

What concepts do I recognize in this problem – even if I’ve never seen anything quite like this before?

How could I get started?

Is there anything I could fill in on the diagram?

OK, if that didn’t work, what could I try instead?

So, is it OK to not be totally sure? Absolutely! In fact, it is an extremely important space to become acquainted with, and to befriend: “the not-totally-sure-if-it’s-right space.”

Are you worried that your kid’s current math issues will prevent them from understanding math in their own unique way and being able to live their dreams?

Do you deeply desire that your kid receive high-level, super-customized math support that feeds their autonomy and helps them really do what they’re here to do in the world?

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

Topic: Uncategorized

It’s not just about math

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I don’t normally put testimonials on my blog — they have their own beautiful lil’ zone over on the testimonials page — but I wanted to showcase one of the BEST things that happened to me this past week — doing a video interview with one of my favorite clients of all time, Miranda Lynch, and her mom, Sheri Lynch!

Before we talked, I really didn’t know what Miranda and her mom were going to say. I had no idea that Miranda is now taking *two* math classes (because she wants to), and I also hadn’t heard about most of her other amazing results (like consistently getting straight As in math since we worked together–way to go, Miranda!!).

But what got me even MORE excited was hearing Miranda talk about how our work together helped her feel more comfortable solving any kind of problem. Amen, sister! It is not just about math!

AND hearing Miranda, who is a filmmaker, talk about how she is totally confident about applying to her dream schools for film — because her math skills are so strong, she had no worries about her applications — GIVES ME GOOSEBUMPS!

An amazing healer who I am privileged to work with once told me that what she really does is remove obstacles. Many of my students come to me because they are experiencing obstacles to their learning… or math itself feels like an obstacle in their life. What we do together is remove the obstacle, lovingly, slowly, patiently, step-by-step… and in the process, my students learn to remove obstacles on their own.

This is something I think about, but don’t usually talk about with my students. It was amazing to hear one of my students express this to me herself.

Thank you, Miranda and Sheri, for taking the time to share your experience with the world!

*In other news, my website has a new tips page, which showcases some of my best tips all in one handy place.

Related posts:
Encouraging independent problem solving–subliminally?
Self-taught hero: Pearl Fryar
On being yourself while doing math

Topic: Uncategorized

Emotional Numbers

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Yesterday, I was working with a seventh grader on translating words into equations.

While translating the statement “three diminished by twice a number is eight,” he wrote this:

Wow, I guess he really was enjoying what we were doing! It’s the happiest eight I’ve ever seen! Hooray for kids customizing their math, expressing themselves, and having a good time while learning something challenging!

Related posts:
How to help kids be okay with things being hard
Algebra tears
Five Tips for a Happy Math Year
A Cosmic Imperative to Customize

Topic: Uncategorized

What does pi sound like?

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Just in time for Pi day, here’s a delightful musical interpretation of pi from Michael John Blake, using a piano, ukelele, autoharp, accordion, and bowed something-or-other, not to mention some totally sick handclaps!

I have already listened to this 3 times today. Maybe I should go listen to it another .14 times to bring the total to 3.14!!

If you’re not sure about this song, hang in there until around 2:33, where it really starts to rock.

Makes me want to make my own cover/dance music video of this song!!

Happy Pi Day, everyone! (Thanks to my Dad to bringing this video to my attention.)

Related posts:

It’s 3.14 – Happy Pi Day 2010 (beautiful song and video about 3.14159…)

Five fun ways to help your kids learn math this summer with rock songs and raps
There’s always room for cello