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How to Overcome the Fear of Teaching Math

by David Engle | Aug 30, 2022 | 4 min read

Everyone has a phobia. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I am deathly afraid of snakes. And math. I know I’m not alone, either. The fear of math actually has a clinical name–numerophobia, also known as arithmophobia, or math anxiety. So, what happens when it’s time for a numerophobic homeschooling parent to teach their child math? Sure, most adults are comfortable with basic arithmetic. But are they just as confident when it’s time to instruct geometry, algebra, and (gulp) trigonometry or calculus? Probably not…but that’s okay. You can do it, even if you’re a numerophobe–we’ll show you how to overcome your fear of teaching math to your homeschooler.


You Don’t Have to Be Isaac Newton to Teach Math

Does it help to know math well, or even enjoy it (inconceivable to me, but I digress), to effectively instruct it? Of course. But not excelling in math or even pretending to like it doesn’t preclude you from teaching math–and teaching it well–to your child. The secret? The right program and curriculum.

What is the right math program and curriculum? Well, there are quite a few from which to choose (visit our curriculum partner, Curriculum Express, to explore a wide variety of math publishers!), but be sure to find a program with well-designed instructor guides–they are absolutely key. Because the truth is, you don’t have to be a master in math (or any other subject, for that matter) to teach it. You simply need to be able to communicate the lessons effectively, in a way your child understands best. And that’s where the right math curriculum comes into play. So…what is the right math curriculum? It’ll vary by child, but one stands out in our eyes.



One of the reasons Math-U-See is so appealing as a math publisher is that it goes out of its way to make instruction easier–for both students and instructors. Its unique instructional approach stresses manipulatives, which allow abstract math concepts to be presented in clear and relatable ways. This allows students to develop a concrete grasp of mathematical concepts and helps them progress in mastering the fundamentals. According to the Math-U-See website, “research shows learning math concepts with manipulatives deepens understanding, increases retention, and makes math more interesting to students of all ages. Your next question may be…


What Are Manipulatives?

Great question. Math manipulatives are objects that allow students to explore a concept in an active, hands-on way. Math-U-See’s colorful manipulatives, combined with effective videos, textbooks, practice, and assessments, guide students through each concept as they create a foundation and understanding of mathematics. But manipulatives are only one component of Math-U-See’s formula for math success.


The Importance of Understanding the Concepts

Beyond manipulatives, Math-U-See presents math skills and concepts in a logical sequence. And to make the concepts more tangible and accessible to the average student (and parent), the lessons focus on demonstrating how and when certain concepts would apply to real-world scenarios–this helps students understand in a deeper way.

To reinforce the concepts and truly create that foundation of learning, Math-U-See uses a mastery approach to instruction, which allows students to build upon that foundation before moving along to the next topic. This way, concepts build upon one another (stacking, so to speak) and are applied and reviewed to ensure the student has a firm understanding of the material. It’s because of this conceptual understanding that Math-U-See does not organize its curriculum by grade like many other publishers do. The idea is for the student to master a concept before progressing to the next, regardless of which grade level is considered “appropriate” for each child. So, if your child grasps the concept quickly, you can skip ahead to the next concept…if they’re struggling, you can stay on that concept as long as needed until it’s mastered.

This philosophy meshes quite nicely with Bridgeway Academy’s, in that each child should learn at a level that’s appropriate for them–not according to their age. Some children may possess exceptional math skills and learn at a “grade level” that’s well above their age; others may struggle with math and require some additional instruction and time to get up to speed. And, also aligned with a core Bridgeway principle, is the fact that the curriculum is designed to be understood equally across a variety of learning styles, and is easily adaptable to practically any type of learning environment. That’s the way learning should be. 


How Math-U-See Makes Instruction Easy

All Math-U-See curriculum includes clear guidance when it comes to introducing, practicing, reviewing, and mastering math concepts. So parents or other home teachers aren’t the only source of instruction, Math-U-See’s lessons incorporate a variety of tools, including engaging videos, practice worksheets, systematic review pages, and supplemental resources. Plus, Math-U-See offers home educators a host of online tools and resources to help with instruction, including webinars, online chat support, a digital toolbox, and much more.

See? No need to fear math after all! Math-U-See makes life easier for instructors and makes math more engaging and accessible to students–especially those who may share your math anxiety. If you decide on Math-U-See for your math curriculum, visit their Placement Tool page to determine the appropriate level at which your child should start. Bridgeway Academy also partners with Math-U-See, so if you’re looking for an all-inclusive, accredited homeschool program with Math-U-See, call (800) 863-1474 to speak with one of our homeschooling experts about enrolling! For further information about Math-U-See and to view the titles available from Curriculum Express, click here.


David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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