Getting High Test Scores in Math Requires Mental Stamina

Nov 16, 2017 | Smyrna

Concentrating on math for a long time takes stamina. Mental stamina refers to a person’s attention span. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stamina as “the ability or strength to keep doing something for a long time.”  Math students taking advanced classes need mental stamina. Calculus students often take an hour just to work out one problem. But that’s nothing compared to the 365 years it took to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem!

Students with mental stamina, or a long attention span, will have an advantage during math finals and college entrance exams. The math section on the ACT takes one hour and the math section on the SAT takes one hour and twenty minutes.

Students who have not built up their stamina will have more unproductive time. That means they might finish fewer problems and/or make more mistakes. Students with the ability to concentrate for the full 30-80 minutes will optimize the time allotted.

Check Your Child’s Math Stamina

Try timing your child while they do math homework. Remember you are timing how long they concentrate, not how long it takes them to do a problem, or finish their homework. If they get up or start doing anything other than math, stop the timer. Their current attention span in math is their baseline, or their starting place.

You might be surprised at how few minutes your child can focus on math. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have ADHD. Children in our society get bombarded by stimuli. This overstimulation and the tendency to multi-task means that most children have not learned to focus for long periods of time. They need to build their stamina.

Some conditions make it even more for difficult children (and adults) to concentrate. These include:

  • Feeling stressed
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hunger
  • Lack of exercise
  • Some health conditions
  • ADD and ADHD

Increase the Amount of Time Your Child Can Concentrate

People improve mental stamina the same way they improve athletic stamina- focused practice and working a little longer every day. Focused practice means eliminating distractions like cell phones, YouTube, fidget spinners, and social interaction. Getting enough sleep, food, exercise will improve concentration. Learning techniques to destress will also help.

For however long your child can focus on math, have them practice meeting or beating that time daily for one week. The next week add 10% of time as the goal, and the next week another 10%, and so on. No one can concentrate indefinitely. The next step will be for them to learn to take a quick mental break and then focus again.

How Mathnasium of Smyrna Helps

Many kids have built up anxiety and stress about math. This reduces their ability to focus. At Mathnasium of Smyrna we create a pleasant atmosphere to help kids focus for math.

We also give children a few minutes to work on a problem independently before we jump in to help. We call this “productive struggle” or “teach and move-on.” This opportunity to work independently in short bursts does wonders for children’s confidence and stamina.

Want to know more about our unique program? Give us a call today! 770-436-4949

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