Do you have a child in high school taking math next semester? Keep reading.
The title question is one that parents regularly answer throughout their child’s academic careers, more often expressed indirectly by their actions or inaction than by any articulated guiding principle.
For example, if the question’s blank were filled in with “sports” (e.g. hockey, soccer, basketball, etc.), a good indicator of their answer can be seen in the relative investments of money and time devoted to a child’s development of skills in a given sport in comparison to those same investments devoted to academic excellence in subjects such as literature or mathematics.
Before readers begin to feel judged or threatened for making certain choices, know that we understand there is great value in developing the skills of a sport: a child will learn about teamwork, communication, decisive action, time management, self-esteem, and community  – to say nothing of building physical strength, agility and overall good health. Those are important skills for life, not exclusively for sports.
To develop good skills and proficiency in anything requires commitment and effort: that’s true for sports, music, gaming, academics, relationships, business, trades, art, dance, and so on. Math is no exception.
When a child is progressing well in academics, there may be no indication nor need to improve those skills at the present time. Parents rely on feedback and progress reports from teachers. Mathnasium offers free assessments of grade level-appropriate math skills; you can come with your child and discover their strengths and areas of need. If they want to excel in math, they can come and resolve existing skill gaps or learn new skills at a higher level, challenged but still progressing at their own pace.
When a child is struggling or falling behind in their math, we strongly recommend that you bring them in for an assessment and enroll them on a regular basis. That will require commitment and effort, sometimes with sacrifice. You can decide for yourself if their math proficiency is more important than other things that currently fill your child’s (or family’s) schedule and consume limited financial resources. There may come a time for hard choices to be made; talk it over with your family and discover a path forward that everyone can live with, putting priorities and values in perspective for the child’s best.
Making an adjustment during a child’s early years to prioritize academics is often easier than in later years and helps them get on track for later success, postponing the exploration of other skills without compromising essentials.
Find out what your child needs and discover how to help them achieve their potential. If they need a boost in math, we are here to support them. It might require making adjustments in the schedule or in other activities but parents are familiar with juggling priorities – it happens all the time (smile).