You want to help your kid so badly! You are willing to move heaven and earth to help your son or daughter understand math better.
But you’re struggling to help your kid with math by yourself. It’s painful.
Sometimes it might just be a question of working with your kid when you’re not so tired, getting materials that feel like a better fit, or adjusting your approach. But sometimes it’s more than that.
How do you know when you’re not the right person to be helping your own kid?
I haven’t seen anyone else write about this yet, but it’s been coming up a lot recently in the families that I work with, so it’s clear to me that it’s time to share…. how to know when someone else should be doing the tutoring – even if you have been willing to do it yourself.
1. Tutoring your own kid has become toxic to your parent/child relationship. This can go both ways. For example, when one family that now works with me first approached me, the 5th-grade student refused to work on her math homework at all…. unless she was sitting next to her mom. The student believed her mom’s presence was calming, but she was still so anxious that it totally stressed her mom out to have this arrangement! This was negatively impacting their entire mother/daughter relationship.
2. No matter how hard you try, you can’t explain it to your kid in a way they can understand. This can take many different forms. Sometimes even if you are a professional mathematician, you won’t be able to explain it in a way that your kid can connect with. Or maybe you have a method that is crystal-clear to you, but that leaves your kid completely fuzzy or frustrated. Maybe you vividly remember how you learned it growing up, but there seems to be no connection with the way your kid is being taught the material now.
Sometimes this can also look like “Your kid resists your help” or “Your kid won’t listen to you about math” (because they might just not understand how you explain it–even though they still love you!!)
3. Helping your kid with math is taking over your entire life. Sometimes your kid will understand the way you approach it, but helping them becomes a huge project that eclipses everything else. You might find yourself spending hours every single day working on math with them, just wishing that you had time for a normal evening where you could cook dinner and enjoy it as a family without worrying about math.
4. Your help is not creating fluency. Sometimes a parent will be able to help their kid “get through it” by being persistent, working backwards, and guessing and checking, but you can sense that even though your kid is “getting it done,” you know they’re not really getting it. It’s like they’re limping through Barcelona using a phrase book instead of actually learning how to speak Spanish fluently, and if they come up against something a little out of the ordinary, they only know how to ask where the bathroom is or how to get to the train station. You know this level of understanding is not going to get them where they need to go even if on the surface things look “OK.”
5. You can absolutely do it, but it’s not how you want to spend your time. You can explain it. Your kids get it when you help them. But when you come home from work, you just want to be a parent. You don’t want to have to be their teacher and tutor. You just want to have time to relax and hang out with your kids during the few precious last years you have together under the same roof.
6. What you’re doing isn’t helping. This is the absolute bottom line. Sometimes a parent and a kid will be working together for hours every day, and the kid is still struggling. The parent’s first impulse might be to work together with the kid EVEN MORE, but don’t more of what isn’t working is not going to make the situation better.
Do these scenarios sound familiar? Are you ready to invest in high-level one-on-one support so you can just be a mom or dad, trusting that your kid’s math mastery is completely being taken care of? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 617-888-0160, and we can totally set up a complimentary one-hour conversation to get clear on what’s really going on in your kid’s math situation and whether or not the way I work would be a fit for your family.
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