Struggling and tears Math U See

Hey ya’ll! I am coming to you as one stressed out mama today. I am doing MUS right now and my son is saying he is bored. He passed the placement test for TT 3 but I’m afraid to make the jump since he is only almost 8 and didn’t finish a 2nd grade math technically. He is on lesson 14 of BETA. I also know that I don’t want everyday to start with tears or end with tears (I’ve tried starting the day with math and I’ve tried it in the middle and the end). Help any suggestions? He understands most concepts and he is very bright but he is just in tears half the time to get started. He answers all the questions right once he calms down though.

My 9 and 7 year old daughters do MathUSee. They are currently on Delta and Gamma. My second grader who is on Gamma loves math and is always eager to do it. My fourth grader on the other hand, while very competent at math, is a lot less excited about it and some days adamantly opposed to it and very verbal about that, whereas other days she’s okay with it.

I have a few pointers that might be helpful. First, keep in mind that while worksheets A-G and a test are provided for each chapter, it is a mastery curriculum so once your student masters the material it’s okay to let them move on. Most chapters we do A-C and the test. We do sometimes do some of the pages D and over as those usually review previously learned material and it is good to ensure we aren’t forgetting what we’ve covered. If they have a hard time with something, we do more pages. Recently my occasionally math resistant fourth grader was upset because we were skipping G pages that involved coloring, so I started having her do the extra page again.

Another thing I have had to do with my math resistant daughter is to remind her that just because she doesn’t like something or it seems easy or difficult, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. It is important to learn math, so it is something we have to do. We have to learn the easy things at the beginning of the books in order to do the more challenging things later. When the math is difficult, we just have to break it down into smaller steps and practice until it becomes easier. Multiple digit multiplication in Gamma was the point math became a battle for her, as she has a hard time with lots of steps. I would have her put her math away for the day if she got really frustrated and it was taking her too long (I let her go up to an hour if we had time in the day and she was still able to be productive). We did have some tears, but I would encourage her that it would get easier with practice and that the sense of accomplishment would be worth it. I was sure to praise her each time she figured something out and let her know I was especially proud that she persevered when it was difficult. I tried not to make a habit of just letting her quit the lesson when it was difficult or because she got upset or cried (because that sends the message that throwing a fit gets her out of math). First, I try helping and encouraging and if we just couldn’t save it we would put it away and try again the next day. Another thing that worked for us was to give her a brain break with some physical activity halfway through a hard lesson to help her refocus.

As far as the level of difficulty is concerned, my 7 year old is ahead of grade level. She already knew her single digit addition and subtraction before we started MUS, but I wanted to make sure she had mastered it, so she did an Alpha video a day plus a worksheet from the worksheet generator online for a few weeks to review and then started Beta at regular pace. When chapters are easy, like single digit multiplication and division facts, I let them do multiple worksheets a day to get through the material more quickly. My fourth grader even enjoys breezing through a chapter in a day or two. In fact, the promise of the beginning of Delta having easy, fast lessons helped her get through the challenging parts of Gamma. While these lessons are easy, she still needs to learn the facts and practice them, so we can’t just skip ahead, but I can let her go as fast as she wants. I also supplement fact review with free printable games I find online or with the math fact review game on the website, to make it less monotonous. Star Wars math fact worksheets, multiplication fact tic tac toe and YouTube multiplication fact song videos by Mr. DeMaio have been very popular.

Well hopefully you will figure out something to make math more tolerable for both of you. Stick with it and encourage your child to do the same, it will be worth it in the end. It may not ever be the favorite subject, but hopefully it will get better for you both.


We also use Math U See. My son understands math very quickly and likes to move at a fast pace and my daughter is not that interested in math and needs extra time with some concepts. So I starred copying the test and after they watch their videos we take the test. If they get 100% on the test the next day they do the review work sheet D or G. And if they they miss some problems I choose the worksheets accordingly and then they retake the test. This is working well for us my son is able to do two chapters a week and is much happier. I also signed my kids up for dreambox an online math program they play dreambox for 15 min a day. Both kids love dreambox it helps make math fun.

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My older daughter really likes MUS we have struggled finding a math curriculum that she was comfortable with. My 10 year old son however would hate MUS. He likes CLE and here are the main reasons MUS would not be a good fit and CLE is. He dislikes the computer. We tried TT, good program IMO, but computer academics frustrate him. I realize that you only watch Mr. Demme, but he would not like it. CLE has a variety of topics everyday, even with this he gets bored. He will often tell me “I don’t need to do that problem, I already know how” so we usually compromise. He has told me I cannot change his math program, as he overall really likes it (and I love it). That being said, 5 days of basically the same type of problems and he would revolt. My daughter on the other hand is exactly the opposite. More than 3 different math problems and she would revolt as she needs that repetition.
I do think the suggestions from Sparkler20 are good ideas if you continue with MUS.

Has he told you why he’s bored? What would he change about the way you do math if he could? Or what would he change about his math program? Is there anything he likes about MUS? What aspects does he dislike? What frustrates him the most? I think knowing whether to change programs and what to change to depends a lot on understanding what upsets him so much right now. I used to sit down with my kids periodically and have a snack and just a friendly conversation about how things are going–and I’d ask specific questions and just listen to their feedback. If they said something like they wished we could just not do math, I’d laugh a bit and say we couldn’t stop doing math, but we CAN change how we do it. It may be hard for him to envision the changes he might like, and sometimes showing a few samples of other programs can help. Does math take a long time right now? Is there a way to shorten it up? Does he want color pages? Would he like to use the manipulatives more, or not at all? Does he do math independently right now and would enjoy it more if he did it together with you? (Or conversely, do you try to do it together and he’d rather do it on his own)? Etc…

Explore what’s going on and pray about it. Hang in there!


My girls said the same thing, so we switched to Singapore math. It’s more work in my end, because you have to teach each lesson and do hands on activities with them before you hand them a worksheet, but they never complain when we do math anymore. They needed the color and the change in pace.
I’m sure my oldest could to TT and be happy but for me I like to see them do math and teach it at this age. I may move her to TT as she gets older.

Anyways, don’t feel stuck to a program. They might need a challenge, try moving them up a few lessons and just using blocks to review a page instead of them writing it out. We do that now with problems, I’ll write a problem on the white board or have them write it and do the problem with blocks to show me the work. Or I’ll be the student and have them explain the problem to me and I’ll work it out and have them check my work.

Update: We are doing much better. What we do is watch the video at the beginning of each lesson and then I let him do as many as the worksheets in that lesson as he can (he knows he has to do at least 2). This has cut out the tears and fighting because he feels like he is in control and he can go at his pace.