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News from Mathnasium of El Segundo

Reasons Why Kids Struggle in Math

Feb 14, 2020

When parents first bring their kids in to come to see us at Mathnasium, sometimes there are obvious struggles that their child is having in math. Either their kid has told them that they feel behind, or the parent can see that their child struggles to do their homework every night. Sometimes parents see that their child’s grades are bad and specifically in math but not other subjects, or perhaps they notice that their yearly test scores aren’t in the upper half or really even the middle. While some of the signs of a child struggling in math may be pretty obvious, the reasons why they aren’t exceling might be vast and not quite as overt. So, let’s take some time to review why children encounter difficulties in their math learnings and what can be done about it. 

Reasons Why Kids Struggle In Math

  1. They don’t have their basic math facts memorized. Math is not all about memorization, but math success does depend on the ability to recall number facts – things like rules addition, subtraction, division, times tables. Addition and subtraction facts are usually memorized in 2nd or 3rd grade and division and multiplication facts are usually taught and memorized in 3rd or 4th grade. These facts need to be memorized because they are precursors to the next math concepts and classes they move onto. Therefore, if good number sense isn’t instilled and facts aren’t memorized by 4th grade, they will start to fall behind with everything else math related. One of the most visible ways you can tell whether your child doesn’t have their facts memorized, is that they will still be using fingers to add and subtract by the end of 2nd grade and they won’t be able to recall multiplication times tables when you ask them questions like “what’s 5 times 7?” 
  2. They don’t understand how to study. Poor study habits can come from a multitude of things, including not having a routine as to when they do homework, not having adequate study space, or being too tired or hungry. In order to help your students be more productive in studying, makes sure you set boundaries as to when they are expected to do their homework and check-in to make sure they have completed it when they were supposed to. Also be sure they have a place where they can be undistracted to study. It doesn’t have to be a space only dedicated to studying – it can be a kitchen table. Just make sure it is relatively noise and distraction free during the time they are studying and doing homework. Lastly, be sure adequate non-sugar filled snacks are provided for your child after school. Protein is a better choice to hold them over and help them better concentrate. 
  3. Inappropriate class placement. This can go both ways – were kids are sometimes placed in both higher and lower math classes than they should be in. This is really a systemic problem. Compared to most of the rest of the developed world, student achievement in the United States has been found to be sub-par. This has resulted in many schools overcompensating by placing students in advanced classes prior to when the students are actually ready. When students are put in classes that they are unprepared for there will be skills gaps that need to be made up for in order for them to succeed. If assistance can be given and deficiencies can be addressed, like numerical fluency and number sense in math, then they can sometimes catch up and work to stay afloat. Often times, the better solution is to drop down a class level to make sure that the class isn’t overly difficult and doesn’t wreck a child’s self-confidence. On the opposite end, sometimes due to poor test scores or students transferring schools, students aren’t put in a math class that challenges them enough. This will cause students to act out in class and possibly never have homework because they finish it in class. Class placement issues create a great opportunity for you to call us at Mathnasium of Littleton. We can help with students who are trying to rise to the challenge of classes or need more challenge in their classes.  
  4. Non-customized taught math classes. We love teachers at Mathnasium and in fact some of our staff are teachers. We recognize that teachers cannot possibly teach individually to every student in the classroom, due to classroom size. However, sometimes the way that material is being taught is just not in the way that your student is understanding. This is again a great time to take your child into Mathnasium of Littleton for an assessment. We teach math in a way that makes sense to all students and we won’t move on in their learning until they master math skills in the right order to move on with success. 

In the end, how students learn math in primary school has a long-term effect on their relationship with math for the rest of the years to come. It’s critical that parents and teachers look for signs of math trouble so that the appropriate steps can be taken to help students at the earliest signs of discord. Call us at (310)616-3181 to come in for a FREE assessment so we can show you how our program can help.  Call Today!