“Don’t be discouraged if you continue to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, often for a long period of time.”

–John Saxon


Hey there! How’s it going?


Today I want to talk to you about a question I get all the time in my inbox. It’s usually some variation of this: “Why does my child keep getting problems wrong? Are they just really bad at math?”


I get emails like this virtually every day from parents and teachers who are concerned because their student is working with less than 100% accuracy every day on their lessons. And I get it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s “normal” and what you need to be concerned about.


But if you want my two cents, it boils down to this: Getting problems wrong is kinda just what there is to do in math. As a teacher, I am not interested in perfection. I am incredibly interested, though, in recognizing HOW to find the answer, or the problem the student may be running into. That’s step one. Mistakes are always going to happen as there are just too many opportunities for them when it comes to math and all its multi-step processes.


So I encourage you: Focus on the process of learning, not perfection. I’m sure every one of your students has seen me add 1+1 and get 3 on my whiteboard in a video. Whoops. It happens. No big deal. What I want our young students to understand is the process. If they can do that, and stay encouraged to keep trying, then over time they will perfect their computations


So how does that work? For one, I’d be very hesitant to mark every lesson and test up with red and then hand it back with a doomed air of finality. Talk to your student. See if they understand what they’ve missed. Send them back to the lesson if you see recurring problems. Praise them up and down not for getting things right but for NOT GIVING UP. Remind them that these are processes and that processes can just be frustrating. (Now don’t get me wrong, habits of careless errors need correction, but that’s a problem for a different day.)


I’ll leave you with some words of encouragement and some exciting news. First, from John Saxon himself: “Mathematics is not difficult. Mathematics is just different, and time is the elixir that turns things different into things familiar.”



And now, the BIG NEWS. Are you ready?!? Anything that can be done to ease frustrations and encourage the hard, dedicated work it takes to excel at math, I want to offer you. So starting this summer, you will see some exciting NEW Nicole the Math Lady offerings. One of the best? I’ll be offering online grading, integrated right into the site. Online grading! Happy dance!


This is a PERFECT solution for those of you who spend so long grading that you don’t have any time (or patience) left to work through issues with problems. Or for those of you who want your student(s) to have immediate feedback to troubleshoot problems without waiting for mom to get done with her to-do list (cause c’mon now, what mom is ever done with their list?!?)! There will also be reporting for those of you who want an easy way to stay current on your records. It’s a great solution to making sure you and your students stay on track as they diligently work to make the different, familiar.


Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady


P.S. I’ll be sharing more details about what’s to come on the site in the coming weeks. Watch your email and I think you’ll be very excited about all the tools I’m planning for you!