My 14 year old daughter finds math boring and she acknowledges it whenever we talk about it. What can I do to spark an interest for math in her?

  • 1
    Does she have basic math down? By 14 addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are standard and acceptable. Knowing algebra, geometry, etc may truly be outside her scope of interest. I was never into math. Didn't even complete algebra 1. I ended up being a programmer who uses math constantly. I learned when I had a reason to. If your daughter is utterly failing the basics then a specialist tutor or something might be a more suitable source than this site. Otherwise I'd say focus on what she is interested in and let her learn math when she finds an interest in it
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:23
  • Also see this question - not a complete duplicate, but some great ideas.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:24
  • 1
    Do you have an interest for math yourself?
    – user7953
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


I'm sure there will be more detailed and informative answers, but to start things off:

  • Show her how the math she's learning now (at 14, probably some variety of Algebra, possibly Geometry) will inform later studies in a wide variety of subjects. Sure, some of algebra is a bit boring, but you have to know how to solve X=2X+4 before you can master physics, chemistry, or work out your budget or how much you should invest to retire.

    This doesn't mean pop quizzes. This means finding out what interests her and showing her how she's using, or going to use, math in that in the future. Computer games? Math is used all over the place. Wants to travel the world? Better be able to solve 3.75 Pounds=1.85(P/D)*Dollars for Dollars. Wants to be a chef? Recipes are filled with basic algebra any time you want to change the quantity produced. Lawyer? Proofs in Geometry have the same 'language' as proofs in Logic. Mom? Don't get me started.

  • Maybe she's not learning it from a very engaging teacher. You probably can't fix that directly, but you can show her how to turn her math homework into more interesting problems, at least perhaps to think about it in a more interesting - or perhaps more effective - way. Word problems are the bane of many students' existence, but they're also sometimes helpful in teaching you how to solve the problem in the first place if they're turning it into something you already do.

    Solve 3X+4=28.

    Okay, so I have $28 in my pocket, and I need to save $4 to spend on lunch today. How many of my friends can I buy a Frappuccino for at $3 each?

    I bet a fourteen year old can figure out that problem more easily than the regular-algebra version.

  • Maybe math isn't going to be her thing, and that's okay. Not to say she shouldn't learn it, and shouldn't try to make it interesting, but not everyone likes learning everything. If she is doing fine in math but just doesn't like it, and some reasonable attempts fail to help that, it's not a bad thing to dislike a subject - as long as you still learn sufficiently well for future subjects, of course. Push too hard and you might turn her off more. Be careful about finding that correct midpoint; and don't push her just because you're a math/science/whatever person and you want her to like what you want.

    Of course, sometimes the reason you don't like a subject is that you're not good at it or really you find it too hard (not just 'too hard' because you don't want to try for something you don't want, just like running a marathon is 'too hard' for me because I don't really like running all that much, though I imagine I could train for one if I wanted to). That's a different story, and suggests some intervention. But if it's just 'boring' but she still can do it, well, I found memorizing biology pretty boring, too.

  • 1
    to quote my late aunt, a math tutor, "When we were in grade school we had '3 plus box equals 7'. In algebra we traded the box for an X, and everybody freaked out.'
    – warren
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:16

I completely agree with Joe's answer but wanted to add an example from my experience.

I found math in middle school and high school to be as boring as rocks. I was lucky, because my dad bought back some books on fractals and I could use some programs (and write some myself) to see how math was involved in:

  • the Mandelbrot set
  • measuring the coastline or fractal dimensions
  • the shape of mountains (e.g., landscape generator programs)
  • snowflakes

As it turned out, with a bit of programming, I wrote some programs for a few fractals and my math teacher was willing to let me give a little presentation to my class.

Much cooler than simple algebra problems.

So my advice is to figure out how to make math more interesting. Why does she find it boring?

And, as my example illustrates, maybe find some examples or branches of math she won't find boring.

  • Topology (studying knots, surfaces, computational geometry)
  • Fractals
  • Chaos theory
  • Predicting the stock market / machine learning
  • Statistics

There are lots of great possibilities. I also really enjoyed reading the history of mathematics - some weird and crazy characters along the way.

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