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To stop homeschool maths altogether? What's wrong with my child?

(27 Posts)
NoMoreMaths Tue 09-Jun-20 10:33:59

"Wrong" is the wrong word, nothings wrong with her. It must be us. But honest to god.

Myself and my husband must be doing something very wrong here. We're at our wits' end.

I'm trying to understand the psychology of what's going on with our Y2 daughter when we do maths together but I just can't find a method which stops this happening daily.

We'll start (and every day we preface with it doesn't matter if you get anything wrong, we're here to help, it's only maths) and the first few minutes go great. She'll be engaged and whizz through the answers and listen if we help her somewhere she needs it etc.

Then it's like a wall goes up. And she can't read questions properly or hear what we're advising her.

And that's when it all spirals downwards. Seriously she couldn't tell you what 1+1 is at that time.

So then I say we'll stop and come back to it later and she goes into meltdown. "I want to do the maths" but there's no way at all it would get done successfully at that point. We can then try again later but it's just this cycle.

I can't be spending 2+ hours a day on a simple maths worksheet and us all feeling like this.

I think it's maybe anxiety (she avoids playing board/card games too, I think it's a similar feeling) but how on Earth do I help her through this without losing my mind.

OP’s posts: |
sleepismysuperpower1 Tue 09-Jun-20 10:40:09

She sounds the exact same as my dd at that age. She used to be fine for the first 5 minutes, but then get a mental block about the work and couldn't carry on. We found that giving her games to play/other things to do whilst she was doing the maths was helpful. Eg: Get her to answer one question. Do a star jump. Answer another question. Jump up and down. It made the worksheets last longer but it was the only way she could actually finish the work without getting really stressed out. My dd also avoided board games/ anything with a timer or countdown. It took her a few years to grow out of the full mental block, and a good few years after that to have a bit of confidence with maths, but she has just finished her GCSE year with loads more confidence in the subject than when she started the course.

all the best, and sorry there is no quick fix (that I knew of!) x

growinggreyer Tue 09-Jun-20 10:41:37

Her concentration span is naturally short, no teacher would try to do the same worksheet for 2 hours. Ten minutes of working time is all we would want for a Y2 child. If she knows the stuff then the worksheet is just practice. Make sure you have another activity planned to end the session. Eg, ok, ten minutes to do as many as you can and then it is time for a snack. Take the sheet and mark it. Wow, you did 5 of these by yourself, you get a sticker! Then focus on the next thing.

BobbieDraper Tue 09-Jun-20 10:43:32

Can you try a different method?

BBC bitesize have daily lessons for each year group. Have a look and find a lesson which is similar to the topic she is doing on her worksheets. Give her a tablet and let her have a go. They have videos explaining the maths and the activity is usually interactive online, with only some writing.

It doesnt matter if she isnt doing the actual worksheet; just get her working on the same topic.

Maybe the break from being taught by you, or the pressure of you watching her answer will help if it is anxiety.

Shoppingwithmother Tue 09-Jun-20 10:45:01

Have you tried just letting her do it on her own? Just leave her to do it but say she can come to you if she has any questions. Some children work much better like that.

Chipsahoy Tue 09-Jun-20 10:45:34

Try maths factor by Carol vorderman. Honestly, I was slapping my head with my hands a few weeks ago in frustration. Now ds runs off and happily does an hour a day and he's coming on leaps and bounds. I don't even have to get involved..

BobbieDraper Tue 09-Jun-20 10:46:07

If she really wants to do the worksheets then cut them into sections and say "oh, we've got there to choose from. Let's do this one now and then have some play time".

That way, she will only have a few questions at a time and then she is finished. That will boost her confidence a bit.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 09-Jun-20 10:46:18

When we get to the mental block stage with DS (yr 3) I make him come outside. We get chalk out and draw maths on the wall to explain it.

If it is a specific concept he's struggling to grasp, we also go for bitesize videos. Gives me the chance to have a few calm breaths as well.

roses2 Tue 09-Jun-20 10:47:00

Break everything down into ten minute spurts. We really struggled with the online websites our school directed us to. If you have Amazon Prime I've found these Pearson work books very good. They are £2, around 150 pages each and the lessons are broken down into 10 minute chunks which suit a 7 year olds attention span:

WaltzForDebbie Tue 09-Jun-20 10:50:33

My dd is in year 2 and finds maths hard. I have got her some blocks so she can work it out using those when she gets stuck. It really helps her to visualise the problem and she also enjoys playing with them.

Also maths factor is really good as someone else has suggested.

FelicityPike Tue 09-Jun-20 10:54:02

2 hours is an insane waste of time, effort & tempers!
Give 10-15 minutes or let her try it alone for the same block of time and then move on to play or another school task. You can always return to the maths sheet later.

EnidsCrochetCorner Tue 09-Jun-20 10:54:57

Sitting doing a worksheet is deathly boring. Understanding the simple concepts of every day maths, get her to weigh out water, flour, sugar, anything, so if it is 20 + 25 for example what would the total be?

Pens divided into pots for division, steps through the house, anything that isn't a worksheet. It is the same questions you just use physical means to get the answers.

They have very short attention spans, if you saw them in a classroom you would wonder how they ever got work done grin the number of times I have said "the answer is not out the window/on Jessica's back" it is hard for them to sit for long periods. The youngest group I will volunteer in is year 2, classrooms are frenetic.

School use physical resources for maths to help cement concepts, we let them draw on desk tops then move counters into the circles. They enjoy cleaning it off afterwards, great for cross body activities grin

BrieAndChilli Tue 09-Jun-20 10:56:17

Sign her up to something like mathsfactor by carol vodefman. There’s videos explaining maths concepts then interactive questions. Also games etc which are fun but still helping them learn and practice.

Frazzled2207 Tue 09-Jun-20 10:56:31

Not exactly the same problem but I feel your pain. Year 2 son is very bright generally but has basically completely disengaged with homeschool and is now pretty much on strike and refusing to do anything without a fight every single day. Am at my wit’s end and seriously considered just packing it in just for everyone’s mental health. School have done almost nothing to support us- am so cross.

vanillandhoney Tue 09-Jun-20 10:57:28

Do you need to sit with her the whole time? Putting a Y2 through two hours of work for one worksheet is insane, sorry.

Can you just let her do 10-15 minutes of work and let her come to you if she struggles? Maybe she feels like it's too much pressure.

Crystaltree Tue 09-Jun-20 11:05:05

As an ex teacher I can add that even very basic maths is hard to teach, because it requires an understanding of children's misconceptions and their varying ways of learning. Understanding the concepts yourself is a long stretch from the skill to teach it, so don't be hard on yourself or your child. I agree about the ten minutes. In school children and sit and do maths for 40 minutes because they are surrounded by their friends doing maths for 40 minutes, which normalises it and provides a degree of peer pressure or even covert competition. At home it just isn't the same. Take it easy.

Alittleodd Tue 09-Jun-20 11:06:04

Apologies for the disjointed nature of this I'm currently posting while doing maths homeschool activities myself! I'm sure I'll cross post with loads of people but I wanted to help if I can (background - I'm a qualified teacher and I currently tutor maths at secondary, I have a lot of experience in working with SEND students and children who have developed maths blocks because they just "don't get it") as this feels very much like my wheelhouse. And it's nice to help!

The length that kids of all ages can pay attention is always wildly overestimated, and concentration levels definitely vary with activity type/subject etc. More than ten minutes for a child her age is most likely going to be a stretch, maybe observe how long it takes her to get to that "wall" and deliberately structure any maths activity sessions so they fall just short of this. It's amazing how quickly children's brains can get locked into patterns and it may be that maths meltdown after X minutes has become ingrained and each time she reaches that point in reinforces the loop in her brain. Maybe a super short session of one or two questions which allows her to experience success would help her to reframe it, or begin to at any rate.

If you have the time/mental energy/space it may help to reframe the activities in a different way - my son is super maths orientated but I've found that when he struggles something magic happens when the numbers on the sheet get replaced by chocolate buttons, or maths cubes. I can't get him to spell on a phonics worksheet for love nor money but he can absolutely work out how to write messages in my Animal Crossing game or he can sound words out to find specific Spiderman seasons on Prime video! It may be that "worksheet = bad and scary" is something she's internalised and a different context could help (again: caveats about time, space etc. If you want specific ideas based on what she's doing I'm more than happy to help!)

I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but I do have ADHD and a 5 year old who is displaying classic signs of the inattentive type and the wall you describe is immediately familiar. It's nearly impossible to explain to those who haven't experienced it (including my NT mother and NT husband) but for me it feels like a switch has flipped off and I physically cannot access the information, or even the part of the brain that could try to. I've learned that for me pushing through it absolutely 100% doesn't work and actually increases anxiety the next time I have to try something similar. My son is the same, for him it's anything reading/phonics based - so I'm backing off on that, when he wants to do something I let his laser focus run wild (hates phonics but will do an entire workbook in one shot because it has a monster drawn on the front? Ok, go for it kiddo) but in the long run I don't want to put him off - which means finding ways to put the learning in other contexts or tricking him into doing activities without realising.

Well done if you read all of that ramble! Good luck OP.

GreenTulips Tue 09-Jun-20 11:09:15


Buy some numicon it’s much better than blocks

BogRollBOGOF Tue 09-Jun-20 11:15:55

This situation is totally unnatural to the way children learn. They need their peers to model to eachother and struggle without that. Neither my 7 nor 9yos have the educational maturity to work independently.

DS1 (9, ASD) hits a wall very easily. It's best to let the mental defence ease off. With DS1 we get his favourite cuddly and let him distract himself by hugging and smelling it so the sensory input overrides the mental block/ chaos.

Do not spend 2 hours on worksheets. That is torturous to anyone. Get a highlighter and break it down into chunks. In the classroom the majority of children do not complete everything anyway.

Rhayader Tue 09-Jun-20 11:23:53

My year 2 is getting distracted by her nursery age brother who is doing easy things like 2 + <pictures> and learning his phonics. I can’t have them both working at the same time because she just won’t work at all if he is doing something, it’s driving me nuts! If I sit with her individually then she makes amazing progress. This week I decided to scrap the school home learning plan and do my own so that we can focus on things she is interested in. This means she has extra motivation to finish the other stuff first before getting onto our project work and it’s helped quite a bit.

NoMoreMaths Tue 09-Jun-20 11:35:20

Thanks so much everyone.

Especially @alittleodd - I'm pretty certain I have ADHD and she's so much like me. But not sure if it's worth perusing with school (when she's back in)

Just to clarify she's never doing the sheets for two hours. We do 10 minutes say, then the wall is in place and then she will "calm down" in her room for 45, or lay on the sofa moaning etc. Then we try maths again for 5. And repeat.

And then finally the bloody thing is finished (in basically 5 minutes like it could have been the first time) and she's back to her chirpy self.

I think I'll start breaking it down more and she just stops after two questions and we do something else.

Then another two questions etc. Later.

OP’s posts: |
growinggreyer Tue 09-Jun-20 11:40:19

That sounds like a great plan. Remember that you want the knowledge to be in her brain not on a piece of paper. When I was a student teacher (many years ago) a tutor asked us a question and when we flipped through our notes she said something like, 'I wasn't asking your notebook, I was asking you.' Which was a bit abrupt but a good thing to have in mind. You want your child to know that 1+1=2 always. Whether she has written it on a worksheet is irrelevant as long as it is in her brain.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 09-Jun-20 11:49:08

I'd really get her moving around answering those questions, possibly first. Ie do a load of additions by combining balls in one box. Only when she's happy move to writing them down. You can start by writing them in chalk in the floor if you have the space...

Alittleodd Tue 09-Jun-20 11:53:12

Ah yes "if you'd just done it straight away it would only take 5 minutes" is the song that plays on a loop in my brain (and I find myself having to stop those words coming out of my mouth to my son on a minute by minute basis) but believe me often it wouldn't. A super common ADHD trait is only being able to do things when they "need" doing - I think I wrote my 10,000 word dissertation for uni in two days. Every time I have to write an exam or edit a text book I tell myself it will be different but alas.... It's absolutely not a recommended way of working and it made me the world's worst admin but it's a pattern that's seen a lot!

I've found that giving my son a break has to be really carefully managed as transitioning from one activity to another proves tricky for all children (but with ADHD even more so) and once he gets really in to something it's difficult to switch focus without a carefully managed plan and time to adjust.

The online magazine ADDitude has some really useful resources and articles, even if you don't persue a diagnosis (I also don't know if I will) or if one isn't actually appropriate - my experience is that most children benefit from the kinds of strategies used for ADHD.

Sirzy Tue 09-Jun-20 11:54:35

If she is grasping the concept well then I wouldn’t push her to do more on it.

Or find a game or something online to help reinforce the concept. Or something practical.

We were doing reflections today but didn’t even look at the worksheet suggested we made our own game which let us meet the same target

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