In a conversation on FaceBook, one homeschool mom asked me, "How do you tackle subjects that a kid might hate, but they have to take? In our current situation it's Algebra. I feel like we can barely get through it, let alone make it fun."
That is SUCH an important question! In order to find a good, workable solution, we first need to do some discovery. So, put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and start gathering clues:
- Is this about an entire subject or one specific area (for instance, is this about Math in general, or, instead, is it specifically Algebra)?
- How long has your child "hated" this subject? (Consider whether something has recently happened or changed that may be part of this reaction.)
- Is this a subject that YOU have a strong feeling about—whether positive or negative?
- How would you describe your curriculum for this subject: fast-paced? flexible? hands-on? textbook-ish?
With these questions answered, let's look at possible solutions.
If you have a student who has a basic dislike for a subject, here are two reasons why this may be so:
- Your child may be very strong in other areas (such as People Smart, Picture Smart, or Body Smart), and, they are weaker in the particular area needed for the subject (such as Number/Logic Smart). If this is the case, it is so important to recognize where their gifting lies. A great way of understanding this is my analogy of cormorants and cats (and what this teaches us about understanding and appreciating our own kids!).
- It may be that the curriculum you are using is not bridging the gap between "facts" and "meaning" for your student. To better understand this concept, here is a story about how a student went from being baffled by fractions to vividly (and deliciously!) grasping the concept.
If YOU have a strong feeling (whether positive or negative) about the subject area, here are a few things to consider:
- Your child may either be imitating your dislike ("If Mom thinks this is hard, it's probably too hard for me, too!") OR be fearing not doing it perfectly ("Since Mom loves this subject, if I don't do it right, she'll be really disappointed in me!").
- If you love the subject and your child doesn't, it may be that you have already communicated your displeasure. . .And now it has become an area of high emotion instead of a simple subject. Here is a story of one father's experience.
If the curriculum you are using overwhelms your student (moves too quickly through the material, assumes prior knowledge, doesn't match your student's strengths at all), here are some options:
- Ignore the pace expected by the textbook and s-l-o-w down!
- Add hands-on activities, songs, or games to complement the material being studied, like using math manipulatives, singing multiplication songs, or playing counting games.
- Find a new curriculum that provides opportunities for your child's strengths during instructional times.
Though it may not be a "quick fix," this Sherlock Holmes exercise will benefit your student for years to come!