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  • Writer's pictureDedan K. Bruner

January Challenge: Do the math

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

The path to better fathering is not always

clear. In year's past, I've identified as many as 10 things I wanted to work on at once. While that strategy may work for some, I failed miserably. I started off strong, got some early wins, but eventually lost steam. This time around, I'm going to focus on a single monthly challenge at a time. While that may not seem like much, my hope is that by the end of next year I'll be able to look back at 12 new tools I added to my fathering tool-belt.

I encourage you to consider joining me. You don't have to choose my challenge, target something unique to your situation. Maybe your goal will be to read to your kid every night or write your kid every week, or maybe you'll adopt a "no tech at dinner" rule. Whatever you choose, I hope it stretches and pushes you in ways that force you to be both introspective and strategic. Feel free to check in and let me know how it's going. We got this!

Objective: Do 100 math problems with Ella in the month of January

The Situation: The kid is having challenges with math. She's getting better but could

use some additional practice, motivation and confidence.

Lessons Learned: In the past, I've shown inconsistency with my challenges. If I am going to succeed here, I'm going to have to add features to encourage my accountability.

Obstacles to overcome: Shared custody (making sure I don't negatively impact Ella's mother's time), limited time in the evenings, kid burnout.

The plan: My first course of action has to be reaching consensus with Ella's mom. Since we share time, I have to make sure she's on board with my plan or it's sunk before I even get started (another lesson I had to learn the hard way). Next up, no secrets, I'm going to tell Ella that our goal is to do 3-4 math problems every day in January. I'm going to tell her that I need her help, and for each problem we do, I'll put 25 cents in her piggy bank. To support our goal, I'll print out a blank calendar on the wall so that we can jot down the number of problems we complete each day. I think that the shear spectacle of it all will be enough to secure her buy-in. Next, I'll get 100 blank index cards and will draw a math problem on each. On days that she's with me, we'll work on our cards in person. On days she's with her mom, I'll take a picture of the cards and text them to her and have her walk me through them on the phone. I'll keep the cards with me so that she can do her daily cards in the car, at dinner, or in the car on our way between points A and B. My hope is that the challenge will reinforce her math practice, let my budding mathematician know that I have her back, and show her that commitment to academic mastery can be fun and financially beneficial.

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