A Subject Kids Love: Math???? D’s Try

Here’s the up date: My son hates, hates, hates math.  Read on to find out what went wrong!

Do your kids love Math? I know my son has grown to hate it….see yesterday’s post below for the details.

I’m not sure if my son will want to do this one!! 😦 If your kid does, I’d be happy to post the results, so feel free to give it a whirl. Well, frankly, he did not at all. I offered to do it with him, but he preferred to sit alone at the computer. Here are his responses to yesterday’s questions and math challenges in italics:

– How do you feel about Math?

i really don’t like math.

– If you’re entering Grade Four this year (like my son), what do you remember from last years school math?

not much just a few things.

– Can you do addition with multi-digit numbers?


Let’s try this one: 536 + 398 = ?

i seriously can not do this

I’d like you to try a few techniques and tell me which ones work best for you.


1) Guess-timating

Round the numbers up or down: is it easier to add 550 to 400? What does that equal roughly? Will the exact answer be a little higher or lower?


2) Adding in columns / Carrying

I’m guessing this is the way most of us have been taught in school. Do you add the ones column first or the hundreds? Does it help to write the numbers in each column in a different colour? When you add the six and eight in the ones column, you get 14, which is more than 9, what do you do?

i start at the left and move to the right thats all.


3) Manipulatives / Using Your hands to Move Things around

Sort coloured paper squares and strips like these ones made from graph paper into ones-red, tens-blue, hundreds-green. Move them around so that they represent our numbers as shown. i don’t understand


5oo + 30 + 6 300 + 90 + 8

Then add the hundreds squares in green, how many hundreds do you have?

dont understand

When you count up all the tens strips in blue, what do you get?

dont understand


And the red ones, how many are there, what do you do now?

dont understand

4) Counting Money

For many, counting money is simply more fun because it’s more real! More useful!

Which bills and how many of each would you need to make $536?

5 hundreds 1twenty 1 ten 1 five 1 one

How many $500 bills? How many $20 dollar bills, $10s, $5s, loonies etc.

1 1 1 1 and 1

Now do the same with the $398. You could write up a list or draw pictures of the bills, or

use real money (if you have that much kicking around! ;))

3 hundreds 4 twentys 1 ten 1 five 3 loonies

5) Word Problems

Now lets look at it one last way for today. You’re saving up money to buy you own computer, and it’s taking forever. You $900 dollars. Your grandmother has given you $500, you got $30 for mowing the lawn next door, you found $6 in change on your bedroom floor – strange, you’ve been saving your weekly allowance of $10 for 9 weeks, and your little sister emptied her piggy bank for your birthday and gave you all she had – $8! Wasn’t that sweet?! Your dad has said he’s give you $300 for the cause. How much more money do you need to get before you can buy your computer?

the question is not how much money you need to get before you can get the computer the question is how much is the computer.

(This one made me happy, because at least I know he read the question properly and found the mistake I made! I should have written You need $900! So, of course, D’s answer was correct.)

6) Khan Academy Video lesson

Follow this link to watch the video. How does watching someone else’s instructions, hearing their voice help? Does it help to be able to pause and rewind?


Ok, so I left D to tackle this alone, and by the time he was done, he was miserable and super frustrated. I asked him if he’d tell me which ways worked best and he could hardly speak, and wanted to avoid me. This is often how he feels in school around math too, and when I ask him about Math at school or doing Arithmatic, Subtraction,Multiplication and so on, he often balks, freezes up, and sometimes just collapses. He HATES it! I let him calm down a bit, and then asked him if he’d do the manipulative part with me, as he hadn’t actually used the pieces of paper, he was still feeling blocked, but slowly moved into doing it with me, and obviously understood. he then admitted that using the manipulatives was the best way, and that he can do it in columns too. But then he simply wanted to get away and avoid any more discussion on math! My learning objective today wasn’t to make sure D could do this kind of addition, it was to remind myself how many approaches to teaching actually cause the wrong result. I’m not sure yet how to rekindle my son’s love of math. I mean he really gets into visual-spacial stuff, geometry, patterns and so on, but does not like doing equations! His block is so profound that he basically breaks down as soon as he hits a small wall, and is not willing to struggle through it. If he was an unschooling home learner, I’d simply drop the subject and focus on other forms f math for now. But he’s not he’s returning to school as soon as the strike ends.

If I could go back and redo this, i would do it with my son, at a table, where we’d discuss the choices, and he’d show me the way he needed. if you have acid that struggles with Math, i suggest you do this.

Later on, I asked D’s permission to post this here, and he agreed. I asked him what he’d learned and he said dimly that I don’t like Math. 😦

So, after trying these with your kid, or letting her/him try them themselves, I’d love to know which ways helped them the most? Do they use other techniques? which way is the most fun? Which was is the most clear? Which was is the most efficient?

I look forward to hearing from you.