How well does “let’s wait and see” work?

Nov 27, 2023 | McKenzie Towne

During Parent-Teacher interviews or on a mid-term progress report, the teacher suggests that your child get some extra help in math. What do you do?

Some parents take a “wait and see” approach, wanting more time to see if this is a consistent problem or a momentary low mark due to being off from school for a week or sick on a couple test days. Some parents might give a little more prompting to “do better next time” or “remember to study before a test” or the proverbial “you need to try harder”.

From the teacher’s point of view, they likely mentioned it because of mounting evidence that the student can’t fix this on their own and needs more than what is given in class. “Wait and see” has a low chance of success. Indeed, postponing that extra help could make the situation worse for your child.

Math is a subject that builds on what has already been taught. As new material introduced in the classroom advances through the grade-level curriculum, the assumption is that a student already has the prerequisite skills to both understand and solve the new problems using the explanation and examples given.

What happens when a student doesn’t have the prerequisite skills and understanding? They get confused, frustrated, and continue to fall behind; their stress level rises, as does a dislike for math. The longer it continues, the worse it gets; as the grade level increases, so does the severity of the problem.

A student needs extra support to identify gaps in prerequisite skills, improve their understanding and proficiency in those skills, then revisit the new topic again. Help them see where their previous solution attempts went off-track, so they can pre-emptively avoid those mistakes in the future. Reinforce their understanding of the new concept, perhaps using a different explanation from that given in class – something that better connects with how they think. Continue to praise them through the struggle – and it might indeed be a struggle – to lift their confidence and demonstrate that they really can succeed at math. Make a sustained investment of time and effort: no one got behind overnight and it will take more than a few sessions to get things back on track.

Postponing action to provide that support only puts a child further behind, with the need increasing over time.

A parent might be able to personally support their child as described above but not everyone has the time to do it effectively. That’s where Mathnasium of McKenzie Towne comes in. We provide math support to students enrolled at our Learning Centre. In fact, it’s all we do: we help children understand math in ways that make sense to them.

Don’t postpone getting your child the math support they need. Book a free assessment with us to start off the process, identifying their gaps and putting a plan together to address them.

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