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December 3, 2019


What is it about math that gives it so much power…

    • to make kids feel inadequate and insecure about themselves, and
    • to cause wounds to self-worth so big that the effect lasts into adulthood.

That is a LOT of negative power.

Our being in the business of solving these precise traumas puts us in a unique position to hear an endless supply of stories. All people have to do is hear briefly what we’re up to and they’re eager to tell us their own math trauma story, often accompanied with deep emotion.

So…if you feel alone in how much math affected your own well-being or how worried you may be about your child, we want you to know that we understand and feel deeply for you. This issue affects more people than you can imagine.

We’re left to wonder, why-oh-why have we ignored this problem as a society for so long—for generations!—when so much damage to self-worth is being done??? It makes us just that much more thrilled to be exactly where we are, doing exactly what we’re doing.

I want to talk about each of these math trauma aspects in turn.



The subject of math is a hotbed for labels. Growing up, I happened to be categorized as one of the “smart” kids simply because I did well at math, and that was because I happened to do well at that thing called memorizing. (We’ll skip right over the fact that I was no good at learning, only working the system.)

I saw a lot of the math trauma around me at the time and was aware of the negative labels many kids took on but I didn’t relate to it, that is, not until I was in college taking a French class.

The teaching style in this class was different than anything I had yet encountered and suddenly *I* was the dumb one. I was so confused at first (Wait a minute; I’m supposed to be smart!), then I felt sad that I couldn’t keep up with everyone (What is wrong with me?? Am I stupid or something?), then I got angry (There is no way even possible, no matter how hard I try, for me to keep up!).

I remember folding my arms and sliding down in my chair and though I remained physically present, simply checking out of the class. I felt ashamed of myself, mad at the students who were doing well, and hateful at my teacher for…I don’t know, existing!

Then I remembered.

I thought back on the body language of kids in my grade, middle and high school whose bodies and faces looked just like mine did right then. Now, I related to those feelings and my heart poured out to every single one of them. It is NO FUN TO FEEL DUMB!!!

Reminding myself that I’d gotten high honors in school, I understood that I must not actually be dumb. Since the other students in my French class were doing far better than I was—many of them much younger than I was and behaving flippantly, not serious students at all—brought to my view that I was not actually any smarter than they were (as I had previously supposed). This was healthy learning for me.

Next I thought, What does “smart” and “dumb” even mean, anyway?? Could it be that there is no such thing??

After some contemplation, I determined that it must all come down to teaching style and design.

At this conclusion, there sprang up in me an intense desire to one day develop a training system so that no person learning a language ever had to feel as I was feeling. My cogs were turning already and from this moment on, I began collecting and experimenting on teaching/learning philosophies toward this eventual goal.

The result? After 20+ years of this focus, a whole new teaching style emerged that works beautifully for all kids. We called this revolutionary approach “Learning Unleashed.” Surprisingly, all of my effort ended up not in a language program but in a system for teaching math! This happened organically because as I home schooled my children, math was the biggest, most dreaded subject for us all.

For the sake of kids—and we parents who care so much about them!—we are intent on spreading this teaching method as widely as possible. (We’ve written a book to this end. It’s found on our website and details each of the Learning Unleashed philosophies in detail.)

We hope next to create a reading program (who knows, maybe someday a language program, too!) around this Learning Unleashed model. We hope that our passion and effort plays a part in improving the current culture of education and even parenting.



There was another compelling thought from my French class experience: I realized how this feeling of “I can’t do it; I can’t keep up,” could change the trajectory of a whole life! I wondered with soberness if the lack of belief those discouraged kids had in themselves might have altered their lives dramatically. I could see that it truly could have.

Never again did I want anyone, ever again, to question their worth!

As part of this quest, I began to notice something interesting. It started with a friend of mine I thought was brilliant—so creative and so organized and just chock full of talent. But she kept making comments here and there about how she wasn’t very “smart” or “quick” or that she was a “slow learner.” It was a steady drip of comments, like a faucet with a leak! This made absolutely no sense to me! I could see no evidence whatsoever to support her insecurities. Finally, I asked her, “Why in the world do you believe you’re not smart?? Where does this feeling come from??”

It turned out that she “didn’t do very well in school”…and soon added, “…well, mostly in math.”

Seeing this as the root of her nagging self-doubt, I began asking questions of others who likewise tended to self-deprecate. You guessed it; labels derived from the person’s early math experience was a common cause of this!

As mentioned before, these kids-now-adults often feel to tell us their stories. Many of them appeared to be very successful adults after all, but with emotional scars from math.

Sometimes the “I’m not smart” label is self-imposed just from the way math makes the child feel; other times, it’s a fellow student, and more often a teacher that said something that got stuck in the child’s psyche making them doubt their abilities from that time on (GRRRR!!!!). We’ve been so surprised to hear that many teachers told their student outright, “You’re not good at math.”

After a presentation we made about MathHacked to a group of business executives, we had a person seek us out after the meeting and tell of his experience. He had a teacher tell him he wasn’t good at math when he was just a young boy and he said that this haunting label followed him all through grade school, high school, college and he almost didn’t go to grad school because he just didn’t believe he could do it. He struggled for such a long time over this issue before he finally pushed past his insecurities and decided to at least try.

Well, he not only accomplished grad school, he received some of the highest grades in his program. He said he couldn’t have been more surprised. By the time we met him, he was a very successful professional and just in the telling of this story, his eyes became wet with emotion. Not only was he reliving those feelings, he was genuinely grateful and appreciative for what we were doing for kids.

Here’s a message we got from a gentleman, now a grandpa, who saw our system online:

“I was one of the dumb kids when it came to math. I can completely relate to what you are describing. It took me years to realize that I loved to learn and I was a lot smarter than I ever thought I was! I got all choked up when I saw your program this morning! God bless you and the MathHacked Girls!!!!” ~Ben Smith

One woman who came up to us at a vendor table after a homeschool conference said she had a form of PTSD [Post-traumatic stress disorder] due to her early math experience. We laughed but she didn’t laugh with us; she was dead serious. She was willing to do just about anything to save her kids from going through the math trauma that she experienced. In fact, this was the main reason she had chosen to homeschool her children!

Honestly, I could go on and on with stories, but hopefully you will see from the few given here that if your child is currently dealing with an “I’m not smart” label because of math, that you are not alone. I’m also hoping to persuade you not to allow such a negative label to persist in your child. This alone can be the reason for a child’s resistance, not to even mention the lasting effects we’re discussing here.

We also want to assure you that there is something that can be done to avoid and even turn that label around. I’ve seen it happen countless times and without exception. This sounds like an exaggeration, I know, but it is true. And the cool thing is, it takes only about 15 minutes a day of your time working in very happy ways with your child. This will feel good to both of you in our busy and often disconnected world.

Now, I never wanted to run a business. It is not my personality and was never my dream. But after seeing enough parents struggle with this issue and knowing all that while that I had a solution to help them—and being urged by so many to make this solution generally available—here we are, my sister and me, both grandmas, doing this crazy thing together at this stage of our lives. We’ve become “thegals@mathhacked.”

And guess what? We’re having fun and feeling fulfilled because we get to help children and parents feel their worth. This much IS our dream!

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October 27, 2019

Speaking of jumping on brains (I prefer the verb “dancing” because it feels more…creative 🤠), making what we call “tectonic shifts” in thinking is a bit of hard work. All people are sure they want better results but wish they could do it without letting go of current paradigms, aka what they are used to, aka what’s “comfortable.”

In my experience, the “letting go” part is 80% of the work. I picture a monkey, grasping a banana that’s inside a little cage, unable to free himself of the cage because his little fist full of banana is now too large to come back out through the bars. Yip, that’s us.

So, as you go about your coming days–driving, washing dishes, standing in line, waiting for sleep to overtake you–will you reflect on the following examples of “shifts” and determine if you are ready to make your next one:

* Think about the difference between someone feeling love for you, and someone who makes you feel loved. I bet you can quickly come up with examples of both. How many divorces are there between people who love each other? Also take note how many emotional walls are erected by people who do not feel another’s love, though it most certainly exists. Are there emotional walls in your home, your relationships, that you wish were not there?

* Think about the difference discovered by Sam Walton, a discovery that produced for his company a quantum boost in sales and net profit, and started a trend. You see, at Walmart, the customer is always right, always pleased, even if Walmart has to take a hit for it. Have you noticed? They’ll take stuff back you didn’t even buy there, just to make you walk away happy. So what if we applied that thinking to our parenting? Aren’t there many things we want our children (students, employees, anyone in our charge) to buy from us? Our advice, wisdom, guidance? Our hopes and dreams for them? Our instructions?? What if they bought our parental wares as freely as we buy any little thing from Walmart?

* Think about the difference between paying for the Backs and Hands of others to get our job done, and inspiring them to also volunteer their Minds and Hearts to our task? Enthusiasm. A Great Attitude. Flexibility. Creativity. These are things money cannot buy.

* Think of the difference between “It’s a hard life; we gotta toughen kids up, make them do hard things!” and “Follow your bliss; find your passion; do work that doesn’t feel like work to you and that is the quickest way to success.” The first philosophy, while good, can be totally eclipsed by the latter, with astonishing results.

* I once heard of a man with a hot dog stand on a busy street in the metropolis of New York (I think it was). His business had a horrible bottleneck with his lunchtime crowds of getting people their change. Finally, he decided to take the “formidable” risk of trusting his fellow human beings, and began leaving a bowl chuck full of bills and coins completely unattended for his customers to make their own change before heading on their way. Do you think anyone stole from him? You bet. Funny thing is, his business went through the roof, netting him a great deal more than ever before. Not only did he sell more hot dogs, he made more money per hot dog sold, presumably from unsolicited tips of gratitude in exchange for his decision to trust.

Well….my biggest goal (shhh!) behind MathHacked–teaching kids their multiplication and division facts in a way they dig and that ignites their thinking capabilities–is to be part of an educational shift that is similar in scope to the shifts mentioned above.

I hope to convince your mind (and who knows, maybe the world will catch on!) of a better way, one that will add life to your life. I call it my Millennial Paradigm Project. Hope you’ll join me!

Why do I do it? I do it mostly for the kids. I’m willing to bet you’ll like what you see happen inside of yours.

You in?


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October 27, 2019

ALL I wanted to do was help my child succeed, so how is it fair that I had to be the bad guy? I had become the mother I never wanted to be, having to push and pull yet another child through that old math grind.

It was hurting our relationship. A lot. Plus, it was clear to see that my “helping” wasn’t helping at all. I was afraid she’d get behind her peers, but all my “requiring” served to demoralize her further until one day, she just completely gave up.

The doors of her mind had snapped shut, and it was apparent that she KNEW she couldn’t do it. She was so low it was frightening. I felt desperate to do something about it. But what???

Luckily, upon just a little investigation, I discovered something I could do! My daughter was:

1) “iffy” and somewhat slow about her times tables,

2) and they were EVERYWHERE in her math work.

Hmm…very interesting…YAY!! We’ll start those over, worry about what’s next later… But how? How will I to teach them?

One thing I was sure of is that memorization wasn’t working. Not only had this method of learning not stuck the first time with my daughter, I had noticed from my own life that while memorization may have gotten me through tests or assignments, it did absolutely nothing to educate me. I wanted more for my daughter.

I told her the good news, “NO MORE MATH UNTIL I FIGURE THIS OUT.” (Luckily, I was home schooling and had the leeway to do this.)

I forced myself out of that centuries-old box and looked at math through the eyes of my child for the first time. Just as soon as I made this shift, ideas started coming to me, one after the other after the other.

One step at a time, I discovered a completely new way to approach math, a whole new teaching style, new sequences, exciting new philosophies…everything NEW.

I brought my daughter back and together we tried it out. Wow, piece of cake! Not only did she love this new process, it TOTALLY turned her around. So much so, that she quit needing my help (or pushing) and just took off through her regular math curriculum independently (!). (As it turned out, there were no more math issues to overcome! Another YAY!!)

The time savings to me were enormous—but that was nothing compared to the joy I felt, seeing my daughter discover and OWN the fact that she really was SMART! It unleashed her in ways far beyond math, and our relationship was sweet again.

Since that time, it literally HURTS to hear of kids struggling in math, feeling stupid just like my daughter did. That’s why I should be retiring and hitting the beach, I’ve “sold the family farm” to bring hope and solutions to every family I can possibly reach.

Call it crazy, but I love your children. A lot. It’s super hard to hear of kids struggling when I’ve got a solution that works SO WELL! It’s a game changer for your family, and for your child’s life–and it’s all figured out and DONE FOR YOU, every step is outlined, every “t” is crossed. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

I can say this with confidence, because I have used it not only on my kids and many others, but at a private school (6-8 year olds). These were kids that came to math with the usual dread and complaining. This voluntary program ended up with 100% of the kids in the class opting in and nailing 100% of their times tables and division facts (in fact, they’d line up, wanting to be first–and were SAD when the process was over!!).

Their confidence shot through the roof, and, like my daughter, they went back to their math curriculum with eagerness and a belief they could tackle it. It rocked the school, it rocked my world, and has set me on a mission to share what I’ve learned for the benefit of others.

If you follow my simple, proven, revolutionary system, your child will gain the critical building blocks of confidence, solid math facts mastery, and mental flexibility to actually enjoy math and become an independent learner. See you on the inside!

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October 27, 2019


The traditional approach to teaching math seems to produce a small percentage of math lovers and a vast number who hate it.

    • When I was growing up, most everyone I knew hated math. (Well, of course they did; it was math.)
    • As a homeschool mom—until I learned what I now know, that is—all my kids hated math; not only was it the dreaded subject, it caused more resistance and negativity in our home than most anything else. (Of course it did; it was math.)
    • As a member of a homeschooling community, my friends and I commiserated that despite the fact that we had the “best” math curriculum money could buy, we didn’t want to teach math, our kids didn’t want to learn math, and we couldn’t figure out how to get them to do their homework without a healthy dose of force and negativity. (But of course we did; it was math.) The struggle is just as real for public schooled kids and their parents.
    • What about this? Have you ever noticed that there seem to be more internet memes about people hating math than any other subject? (Ha, FINALLY we get to laugh about math.)
    • And what about the innumerable math helps on the market. It’s positively dizzying. How can a parent possibly choose between them all!?

Oh, and while we’re at it, don’t you just hate that feeling when your child asks you for help with their difficult math problems??

I mean, we made it through our math classes, didn’t we? We’re out of school by now! I don’t know about you but having to sit down and wrap MY head around my CHILD’S math problem ranks right up there with pulling worms from little pockets and washing peed-on sheets.

Here are some of the things we’ve discovered that change everything. Yes, we’re out to give math a good name:



We recommend that when possible, times tables and division facts are taught the MathHacked way BEFORE addition and subtraction. This avoids the mental and physical habits that form through the traditional sequence, habits that slow down mental math figuring and erode confidence. Our proposed sequence is iconoclastic (meaning it breaks with cherished tradition), but we’re happy to do so; we can’t deny our experience and believe that someday, this sequence will become the norm.



If the child is older and has learned times tables through rote memorization, we recommend that you back up and redo times tables the MathHacked way. Using memorization as the learning tool does not create a mind able to deal with numbers flexibly. Developing a flexible, agile brain is critical to quick mental figuring and confidence in math.

As it turns out, Stanford professor, Jo Boaler, agrees with us. Following are excerpts from a 2015 U.S. News & World Report article entitled “Should We Stop Making Kids Memorize Times Tables?” [http://bit.ly/2QeRexy]:

Too much emphasis on rote memorization, [Boaler] says, inhibits students’ abilities to think about numbers creatively, to build them up and break them down. [Boaler] cites her own 2009 study, which found that low-achieving students tended to memorize methods and were unable to interact with numbers flexibly. And [Boaler] is currently working on a study with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in which she is finding that the lowest performing students in the world are the ones who think math is about memorization. Also, Boaler argues that memorization of boring math facts, such as times tables, turns students off from math. Often, they’re high achieving students who have the kind of creative minds that would otherwise excel at it.

In short, learning times tables through memorization makes all future math work much more difficult. “Flexible brain training,” on the other hand, is not only a blast to kids because it makes them feel so smart, but creates a math foundation and level of confidence that becomes a springboard for future math success. This is why we speak so generally about math as we explain MathHacked to others. It is far more powerful than at first it may appear.

Incidentally, our way of teaching times tables and division facts contains other surprises too. For example, the traditional method is to start kids at the 1’s and go sequentially through the 12’s. Seems obvious. With our system, however, the 12’s are right up front and the 3’s (much more difficult) are saved till last, when the confidence and sense of empowerment have risen to match the challenge. We took nothing at face value; a ton of thought went into every aspect and we kept adjusting until it worked seamlessly for all kids.



When building a house, we will take the time and care to get the foundation absolutely smooth and completely dry before building on it, right? Pretty good or just a little wet is not accepted, no exceptions.

Getting the math facts smooth and solid should be like that; they are the foundation upon which we build our math knowledge. Too often we press our kids to move forward and do the next lesson when the foundation is faulty, incomplete or wet! When we stop to think about it, it’s easy to see how discouraging this could be for kids.

No worries because it’s a mistake we’ve all made. But now you know: time getting the times tables and division facts absolutely solid—particularly the MathHacked way so your child gets the flexible brain training—is TIME WELL SPENT!!! In fact, it will transform their whole future math experience.

We were excited to chance upon the blog of a former school teacher and homeschool veteran of 18 years who made the same discovery we did. In her blog post entitled, “The Number One Reason Your Kid Hates Math (no matter which age or grade)” [https://www.annieandeverything.com/hate-math-multiplication-facts/], Annie said:

I can almost guarantee that the child who is [resisting math] has one particular characteristic […] and it’s a simple fix. […] And here’s what I’ve noticed: by a large margin, the kids who hate math generally have one thing in common – they don’t know their multiplication facts. The kids who love math, or at least tolerate it, are the ones who know their multiplication tables so well that they don’t have to think about them. Like at all. And one of the things I want you to realize is that this is a COMMON problem…we don’t ever strive for mastery. 

As it just so happens, Abe Lincoln also agrees (he never told a lie ;)):

 “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Often, when a child isn’t doing well scholastically, we [especially homeschooling] parents tend to think the answer is in curriculum. We may begin asking around for what’s considered the best. When it comes to math, however, I predict that whatever curriculum your child is currently using (*with the exception of Common Core) will be perfectly adequate with the right groundwork in place.

*In my opinion, Common Core makes kids less able to unlock their hidden potential which makes it ever more important for parents to supplement their kids’ learning at home as much as circumstance allows. Keep in mind that it takes a tutor 1 hour and 47 minutes to cover all the child learns in a full day of school so there is time after school to have a much bigger impact than you might guess.

In fact, in a perfect world (generally not possible), I’d suggest that parents stop all other math work with their kids and anything else that got in the way for a couple of months, even taking them out of school if possible, just to make sure the foundation was done right. Put them back in school then, and you might think you have a whole different kid.

I’ll leave you with one of MathHacked’s very first verbal testimonials. It came from a 6-year old named Gabriel, one of our students who learned times tables the MathHacked way. I received ample evidence from the body language of all the kids we taught, the fact that they jumped in line to be next, and their sad countenances when the process was over, that my little homeschool system was proving to be universally successful. Still, I’ll never forget the day that with a 1000-watt countenance, little Gabe exclaimed, “Mrs. Linchenko, I LOVE how you have all the easy ones in here!!!”

Haha, ain’t no better praise than that!

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October 27, 2019


One day, my daughter’s friend came to our house and saw that our big patio window had graphs and arrows written all over it with dry erase markers. This was from a day of brainstorming with my sister and biz partner about our MathHacked business. Naturally, he was curious what we were up to.

When he heard a few minutes of explanation of what our business was and that our aim was to help kids maintain a sense of self-worth throughout their math education, he was instantly enthusiastic and supportive.

His very next comment was (pointing his hands downward like a wedge), “Math was the WEDGE that drove my dad and me apart.” He said he never did regain a good relationship with his dad, that this was the beginning of a downward spiral that had never fully recovered.

Goodness, what a common and sad story! Math as the wedge!

The problem with math is that it isn’t just about the math; it’s about…How the heck do you get kids to do what you want them to do…when they don’t want to do it…without damaging the relationship???

Though the answer to this question is a HUGE part of the math equation (ha, punny), it’s found in no math book I’ve ever heard about, have you?

Even if we parents know the math well enough to help, we can feel at a loss as to how to motivate our kids (short of child abuse) to DO the #%&@ math!

Trying to motivate children through resistance puts parents and kids at odds with each other until they don’t even like each other.

[Hint: I’ve learned that a child’s resistance most often means that a change is needed in either the learning design or the parent’s/teacher’s motivational style.]

On the other hand, our Learning Unleashed style—which you get to “try on for size” through the MathHacked system—takes care of that attitude for you. It removes resistance. It unleashes creativity and self-worth and the hidden brilliance that they normally reserve for their computer games or other things they love doing. Here is the litmus test: If the proper teaching method is used, both teacher and student will enjoy the experience.

And this is a relief: You don’t have to understand why it works, or the many philosophies behind it, before you get to experience it firsthand. Since I’ve already gone to all that trouble (all that failure and learning, that is) you don’t have to. All you do is watch and mimic step by step what you see me do on-line. And as Candice can attest, no previous math knowledge is necessary:

“We LOVE your system! Even I have learned my multiplication which I never ever thought I could! I would easily pay double the price and I recommend MathHacked to anyone I talk to about math curriculum. Once during a session with my son I teared up as I called my husband to finally say “I’m getting it, I’m getting my times tables!!” ~Candice Elton

We’ve had phenomenal success in seeing all children feel smart at math using our system and their parents able to administer it. Why? Because when the right educational design and an effective teaching style are in place—meaning these things are working with human nature, not against it—everything feels easier for everyone.

In case you doubt that there are things YOU must change in your current methods of teaching and motivating to get to better math scores from your kids, I invite you to read the excerpts below from an article entitled “A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses” [https://www.wired.com/2013/10/free-thinkers/]. I share these to illustrate the radical difference a kid-friendly teaching style can make.

…the government-mandated curriculum…was mind-numbingly boring for [Sergio Juarez Correa] and the students, and he’d come to the conclusion that it was a waste of time. Test scores were poor, and even the students who did well weren’t truly engaged. Something had to change. 

These students in Matamoros, Mexico, didn’t have…much hope—until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential.

young children, motivated by curiosity and playfulness, teach themselves a tremendous amount about the world. And yet when they reach school age, we supplant that innate drive to learn with an imposed curriculum.

It was a noisy, slightly chaotic environment—exactly the opposite of the sort of factory-friendly discipline that teachers were expected to impose. But within 20 minutes, they had come up with the answer.

He’d never encountered a student with so much innate ability. He squatted next to her and asked why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it. ‘Because no one made it this interesting,’ she said.

I’ve said it before and will say it a thousand times: The way kids feel as they learn is more important to their success than the things we’re trying to teach them.

You know, speaking of feelings, it’s funny; the whole reason we make our kids do their math homework is:

    • so they can get competent and feel smart in math,
    • so they will feel smart generally,
    • so they can become an educational success,
    • so they can become a financial success,
    • so they can have lives with minimal stress,
    • making it easier to be “happy at home” with their families.

This is the end result!

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.” ~Samuel Johnson

And yet, our well-meaning, diligent efforts with math often leave our kids

    • feeling dumb, and angry at us for making them do it,
    • so we try to use our parental authority to make it happen,
    • so they blame us and we become the bad guy,
    • which feels unfair because we are only trying to help,
    • which unfairness adds to our negative feelings,
    • which makes our kids even more resistant,
    • and all this makes us all feel unhappy at home!

If this is you, please know that it’s not your fault!!! This was me too and we’re both wonderful parents! I believe this. And believe me, it’s easy to accidentally shut our kids down. But now that I’ve upgraded my parental mindset, I understand that with the right teaching/learning design and style in place—same parent, same kid—you can get results you love. In fact, you’ll feel like a super parent.

Note: For those of you who happen to be interested in learning about the human-nature philosophies that power MathHacked in detail, we have that information prepared for you in a book called, “Learning Unleashed: How to be Lazy and Still be a Good Parent.” We hate to see you work any harder than you have to (physically or emotionally) for results you’ll love!