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A blog by Heidi Duff, a Enhancing Resilience in Children and Youth Alumni

A quote from Susan in the TMC course Enhancing Resilience in Children and Youth really stuck with me. She said “Trust yourself. You are enough. You know enough. What you put forward is going to absolutely be enough.”

As a high school math instructor I deal with many tough conversations with parents about their children’s struggles in math class. I find these conversations really stressful for myself even before they begin. I had a recent conversation with a family about their student’s math worries for the upcoming year. The parents were focused on whether or not the child could learn the math lessons and I tried to reframe it so that they looked at the whole child and saw how the ADHD, mental health and other struggles were impacting their kiddo. Based on a survey and a conversation I knew that the student was feeling stressed and overwhelmed and that they wanted to take a math class that would mitigate that. The parents disagreed and this was adding to the stress we all felt.

In taking the time to really stop and listen to the family I could tell they really cared about their child and that we could come to an agreement that could help everyone feel heard. After I spoke with the parents, I met with the child who, with support, was working through the five steps to Self-Reg. I reframed the situation by telling them that they could start in the one class and if it wasn’t working that they could shift to the lower stress class. The student visibly relaxed after hearing this. They appeared to feel that they had been heard and that there was a plan to help reduce their stress

As we move into the next year I will keep an eye on the child to see how things are going and support the child to manage their stress even if that first class is not a success.

The end result was a situation where everyone’s stress was lowered and there is a path forward that allows us to continue to help this child to deal with their stress so that they can learn. 

I have found that if students move too far ahead too fast in math they do less math in the long run. I wonder if this is related to stress as they seem to reach a point where they no longer love math. I remember hitting this point in college and it led me to change from a math major to a math minor. Finding ways of helping all kids learn how to handle the stresses that they have to deal with and to be able to restore themselves and feel supported is what I will strive to do moving forward.

You may also be interested in Dr. Shanker’s take on Reframing High Math Anxiety HERE.

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