Math is a subject that evokes strong emotions from most high school students. While some love math, others really hate it and it causes them anxiety and frustration. Math can be a very intimidating subject but it’s necessary for so many career paths that most students have no choice.
Math teacher Janet McAlister; “Most students miss out on baseline building blocks. This happens early on in their school careers. Since math builds on previous knowledge, missing building blocks can cause problems for years to come. When students have a bad attitude towards math, it can make it more and more intimidating… they just get freaked out!”
If your student is struggling with math, it may take some time to get them to accept help or to overcome problems, but it’s well worth the investment. Having a positive attitude towards math will reduce their anxiety levels and help them to excel both now and in the future.
Most students will do better at math if their confidence improves. When they change their internal dialogue from “I’m not good at math” to “Math is easy!” they are able to work through problems and solve them. You can help to build confidence by reassuring students of their capabilities. Praise any improvements in their math scores and be sure to remind them of how capable and smart they are.
Offering incentives and rewards for improvements in math grades can make a big difference. Most students respond well to positive reinforcement, so give it a try!
Get your daily dose
Try to do math every day. Get your student to work out the tip on restaurant bills, or help you to balance your bank accounts. Get them to draw up budgets for the home, do the math on building projects or help younger siblings with their math homework. Going back to the basics will help them to build confidence. Get them to explain their math homework to you or tutor younger students at their school. When you have to explain something to someone else, you often end up understanding it better yourself. This will help to fill in any gaps in the foundations and revise earlier math techniques that will help them with the more complex math they have to face in high school.
Get a tutor
Tutors are specialists in helping students go back to their foundations and fill in the gaps. Tutors will work at a pace that suits your student and help them with homework and exam preparation. Getting a tutor means that your student gets the one-on-one attention they need to overcome their math hurdles. The tutor can also help identify what building blocks are missing or weak. With this knowledge the tutor can help the student fill their gaps.
Having a negative attitude towards math makes for an anxious school year filled with dread. Math exams become a nightmare to prepare for and poor grades can negatively affect other classes and grade point averages. Help your student to change their attitude towards math and you’ll help revolutionize their high school experience.
Note: This post is adapted from a Tutor Doctor HQ posting dated Sept 14, 2012 titled ‘How to be Good at Math‘