Many talented young people who have the opportunity to begin their careers early or to compete at a high level find that their school performance suffers, even though they may be very capable students.
Are there children in your life you know who are struggling with math? Are they your own children, your siblings and cousins, or even your own students? If so, they aren't alone, as many people struggle with this subject both in adolescence and far into adulthood. Of course, math is an important part of our everyday lives—it helps us spend, save, budget, and more, making it a necessary skill to not only learn, but master. The following tips are designed to help even the most frustrated student master math in an organic and lasting way.
Mastering Math: Try These Tips
- Practice Over Success: Math is concrete and logical. One math lesson builds on another, and another, until a problem can be solved sequentially. With so many steps involved in most math problems, it's easy to get lost in the fold or forget something, ruining the solution at the end. With this in mind, you can learn to master math by focusing on practice rather than success. If you're only interested in the right answers, you're sure to be disappointed again and again. However, if you focus on practicing each lesson, building upon them until you can seamlessly put them together, you have a higher chance of not only success, but understanding, in the end.
- Patience: As mentioned, math takes a lot of steps. This is one of the main reasons students struggle—they may not understand a certain step, may neglect to follow a certain step correctly, or may forget a step all together. When this happens, it's easy to become frustrated with the entire process, but frustration only makes things worse. Employing patience when tackling math can make world of difference for the struggling student. Being patient as they work, as they go over their steps, and even when they get the wrong answer can help them stay calm, making them more likely to go back and check their work with ease rather than with anger. Working on patience helps regulate the emotional responses one can have to math, keeping them cool, calm, and logical.
- Try One-to-One Instruction: When an instructor is responsible for the comprehension of various students, it's hard for them to make time for the one struggling student in the class. Though this isn't fair, it's certainly a reality that has caused many students in the past to give up on math and themselves. They think the problem is them, when they could really just use a bit more focused attention. Many parents remedy this with a tutor or an outside instructor for one-to-one instruction. This focused approached ensures that all questions are answered, all mistakes are caught, and that all issues are resolved in a friendly, intentional way.
- Consider Small Class Sizes: One major issue for many students struggling with math is the size of their class. When a class has upwards of 15-20 students, it's terribly easy for the one who is struggling to get lost in the fray. Larger classes mean less focus from the instructor, and make it harder for students who are struggling to keep up, or for the instructor to even notice there's a problem. If your child is an institution where the class sizes are large, you may want to consider moving them to an institution where classes are smaller and students can get the individualized attention they need. Studies show that small class sizes help foster closer relationships with instructors, allowing them to really notice when a student is struggling and intervene.
- Games: Different students have different learning styles, and sometimes the traditional structure of a classroom is not conducive to a certain child's learning disposition. Some students are visual learners, others are more hands on, while still others appreciate engaging conversationally. Whatever the learning style, there are tons of educational games that have been developed to help different students master all types of math. Finding the right game for your children or students can help them associate math with pleasure, while also engaging them in ways they enjoy and understand.
Math is difficult, but it doesn't have to be impossible. While it is a concrete and logical subject, there are creative ways in which you can help your student master this necessary skill.