Psychology Today: Why Does My Child Hate Math?



In his recent three-part series for Psychology Today, Dr. Shanker takes on the topic of math from a Self-Reg perspective. 
In The Giant Leap, he discusses how math shouldn't be seen as merely a compulsory subject, but an enriching mental experience. In Is This Truly a Matter of Hatred?, he explains why so many children today are going into fight-or-flight at the mere thought of doing math. In What Can I Do About It?, he discusses how to help a child with a kindled math alarm

PART I: The "giant leap"

DOCTOR #1: Who are you? Why aren't you masked? Who are these people?
DOCTOR #2: I don't know.
DOCTOR #1: What the hell is that? What are you doing? 

McCOY: Tearing of the middle meningeal artery.
DOCTOR #1: What's your degree in, dentistry?
McCOY: How do you explain slowing pulse, low respiratory rate, and coma?

Continue Reading

PART II: Is this truly a matter of hatred?

Children are going into fight-or-flight at the mere thought of doing math. Self-Reg helps us to understand why this is happening and what we might do about it.

An alarmingly large number of early learners have come to abhor math by Grade 3: they have developed what is referred to as “High Math Anxiety” (HMA).


Continue Reading 

PART III: What can I do about it?

How can we help a child with a kindled math alarm? How can we prevent this from happening in the first place?

In his classic, The Myth of Laziness, Mel Levine made the critical point that when a young child gives up on arithmetic, it's a sign, not that he is not trying hard enough, but rather that he is trying too hard and expending too much energy.

Continue Reading 

Why Students Forget- and What You Can Do About It


“In a recent article published in the journal Neuron, neurobiologists Blake Richards and Paul Frankland challenge the predominant view of memory, which holds that forgetting is a process of loss—the gradual washing away of critical information despite our best efforts to retain it. According to Richards and Frankland, the goal of memory is not just to store information accurately but to “optimize decision-making” in chaotic, quickly changing environments. In this model of cognition, forgetting is an evolutionary strategy, a purposeful process that runs in the background of memory, evaluating and discarding information that doesn’t promote the survival of the species.” Continue Reading 


Our Children’s Emotional State

The Silent Tragedy Affecting Our Children Today

There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels - our children. Talk to teachers and professionals who have been working in the field for the last 15 years. Our children are in a devastating emotional state!... Read More


Suicide in Children

It is terrifying to read the articles of young children, ages 10-12 commit suicide. We are terrified that as such young age they even know what means. But they do. And we must focus more on children's mental health and emotional wellbeing at home and in schools...Read More


For Teens Knee-Deep In Negativity, Reframing Thoughts Can Help

Parents can play a huge role in helping their children to develop a critical life skill: the ability to take notice of their thoughts, to step back and view the bigger picture, and to decide how to act based on that more realistic perspective....Read More


Do we still need schools?

Nikhil Goyal is an activist and author of a forthcoming book on learning. In his talk at TEDxDanubia he builds a strong case against standardized testing and advocates for a twenty-first century revolution in education.




Ms. Walker’s Class Remembers Pearl Harbor

This past Wednesday the country marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a day like many other , except for veterans, survivors, and military families. We’ve grown accustomed that these days are personal because reminds us of our own sacrifices and for others it’s another regular day. At supper, our 8 years old daughter suddenly announces she learned about Pearl Harbor Day in school that day. We were flabbergasted, since history has been missing from her curriculum in the previous years, but excited to hear all that she learned.

Bunnell Elementary school’s music teacher, Mr. Burgess acknowledges and appreciates the service and sacrifices of Veterans with a special tribute every year. The event deserves more interest and attention from local residents and school officials. Nowadays, very few schools recognize the spirit of these holidays, particularly in elementary schools. Memorial Day is not positive enough to teach in our classrooms, even though children of fallen soldiers attend our schools, field trips to museums or historical sites are too expensive, and not funded by school districts.  

We shouldn’t be shocked that recent studies have shown that the historical knowledge of young Americans is less than most educators and citizens would like. History is absent from the elementary curriculum. While research evidence indicates that elementary-age children are incapable of thinking properly about history, this does not mean young children cannot learn historical events or use the lessons of history to explore important values and increase skills in studying, thinking, and communicating. It only suggests that teachers must observe the known limitations of their students in attempting to teach history. The objectives of history in the elementary school are to develop knowledge of the American heritage, recognize and place in historical context important persons of the past, and introduce and gradually build an understanding of time and chronology.

Ms.Walker carefully integrated a Pearl Harbor video with instruction and helped students understand and recognize the past. Ms. Walker transformed  her computer class into a successful history class and an amazing dinner conversation.
Thank You, Ms. Walker and never give up incorporating history in your class.



References and Resources: Egan, Kieran. “Teaching History to Young Children.” PHI DELTA KAPPAN 63 (1982): 439-441. EJ 259 456., Eric Digest, Hallam, R. N. “Piaget and Thinking in History.” In M. Ballard, editor. NEW MOVEMENTS IN THE STUDY AND TEACHING OF HISTORY.

Why as a parent, I dread homework

Emma We read the letter a Texas teacher sent home to parents about her decision not to assign homework this year. She said “After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.” She went on saying “research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance” and urged them to “spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success,” such as spending time together as a family, playing outside, and getting to bed early.

Her message went viral, shared over 68,000 times, parents admired her, the Internet gave her an A+ and she became a hero overnight. She isn’t the first teacher to eliminate homework, we have a homework hero here in Flagler Schools too, and in 2014 entire schools in Massachusetts adopted a “No Homework” policy.
“The research clearly shows that there is no correlation between academic achievement and homework, especially in lower grades,” says Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
Younger students do not benefit academically from homework and even among younger adolescents the success it’s small or non-existent. The Texas teacher recognized the research thus her choice not to give homework anymore.

So, why are Flagler Schools agonizing young students with homework? Because in my house, homework often is nothing but misery. Children spend seven hours in school and they are still required to do homework, which, according to Flagler School’s policy should be no more than half an hour per day. But homework is never half an hour. Educators say homework is necessary to reinforce the lessons learned during the school day. And if kids didn’t understand the concept covered in class, homework becomes a teaching tool for parents. Without textbooks, access to digital textbooks, without knowledge of what our children learning in school, parents are googling unfamiliar terms, frantically searching for answers, browsing YouTube videos and tweeting to anyone accessible on Twitter in hope for help. This is when homework becomes grueling for children, frustrating for parents and utterly dreadful for the whole family. When you found the YouTube video and figured out how Common Core wants your child to learn subtraction, now it’s your time to teach them. After two and a half hour of homework, we are all exhausted and miserable. It robbed us of family time, the time to connect and relax together and reduced spending time to read for pleasure, the one thing we know has a correlation with academic achievement.

School administrators argue homework that requires interaction between parents and students may increase parent involvement. However, studies have shown no link between parent involvement in homework and student achievement. They also claim teaches executive functioning skills like planning, prioritizing and setting goals. But students can learn that during the school day and at home through hobbies and chores.
How about the kids whose parents don’t have the time or resources to help with nightly studies? Aren’t we penalizing them by having grades depend on homework?

Students work hard all day. They need time to play and relax. We cannot forget the importance of play. Playtime is learning, kids learn to solve problems, resolve conflict and enhance their creativity. In fact, playing is crucial for a healthy brain development. Homework kills playtime. Let’s get rid of homework.

  1. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003
  2. What research says about the value of homework: Research Review
  3. Homework: An unnecessary evil?….Surprising findings from new research 
  4. The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders 

A silent epidemic, mental health

Little PrinceSeptember, among others, is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  For those of us who have lost a loved one to suicide, we wish we knew then what we know now, we wish every month was Suicide Prevention Month and we wish that each and every one of us takes responsibility for suicide.

Schools could be instrumental  in identifying students with mental problems and help them. Sadly, many schools are not prepared for this role.  Flagler Schools have assigned only $1000 in their 2016-2017 budget for mental health. A county that still reels from the pain of recent suicides our schools should seek for supplementary funding opportunities to provide school-based mental health services. Funding would also allow training school faculty and staff on the early signs of mental health conditions and coordinate services between schools and the community.

“Educators face the simple fact that, often because of a lack of resources, there just aren’t enough people to tackle the job. And the ones who are working on it are often drowning in huge caseloads. Kids in need can fall through the cracks.”

“No one ever asked me”  – Katie is one of those kids.

We, often, assume that young children do not commit suicide or mental health doesn’t affect them until they are young adults. Simply not true.  Children as young as 5 take their own lives every year.

Us, as a community, parents ,doctors, teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members should work closely with everyone to help our young children and adults overcome mental illness, guide them to success and support suicide prevention initiatives.

If you or someone you know needs help,

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255

You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

“There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.”- Miss you Chels. 


Let the stress begin

We are two days aways from the beginning of the school year and as an involved parent, I can genuinely say I dread even the thought of school. The stressful climate …

A classroom STEM project became alive at home

Most parents know about Bunnell Elementary’s Farm to School Golden Shovel Award. The award from the Florida Department of Agriculture recognized students and educator’s extraordinary garden efforts.

School gardens have been increasing in popularity across Florida and nationwide. The numerous benefits of school gardening for students, teachers and the community are becoming more evident. Teachers perceive the garden as an engaging environment for students. It is a place where they learn skills that can be passed on to their homes benefiting their families and communities’ health.

The commitment to raise a generation who is devoted to their food starts as early as the second grade at Bunnell Elementary School. Around May, three second-grade teachers initiated a small STEM project with a grant Mrs. Warren, secured. The students planted different vegetable seeds, like eggplant, observed the plant’s growth and at the end of the school year took them home. We enjoyed watching them fully mature in our humble garden and harvesting what we have grown. EggplantsIt gave the children a sense of responsibility and achievement during the summer break. The eggplants are still growing providing us, and friends with some savory dishes. One of my favorites, Baba Ghanoush (eggplant spread/dip), which has taken the kids and family members on a cultural and culinary adventure through the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

This project further enhanced our children’s connection and love for our environment and every component that impact our food. A curriculum that expands beyond the walls of the classroom helps young kids play an effective role in the future of green technologies.

A STEM activity that started in the classroom and continued at home was exciting and engaging for kids and parents alike, which holds the assurance of encouraging the children’s STEM interest.