Lovin’ Math


Math is a subject that evokes strong emotions from most high school students. While some love math, others really dislike it and it causes them excessive amounts of anxiety and frustration. Math can be a very intimidating subject. However, it’s necessary for so many career paths that most students have no choice but to continue taking math courses throughout high school and college.

One of the reasons so many students have problems with math based subjects is that they are missing certain ‘building blocks’ that are necessary to understand and even enjoy higher levels of math. Math teacher Janet McAlister states that “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, energy and resources to get them to accept help that can overcome building block issues, but it’s well worth the investment. I remember my parents seeing I was having difficulty with my math in third grade and they began to work with me more and found a teacher who helped me understand aspects of math I missed in earlier grades. I remember it was not easy for me to begin initially with this teacher but after the first lesson she had me hooked and it only took four or five more sessions to close my gaps. Having a positive attitude towards math will begin to reduce their anxiety levels and help them to excel in school today and later in their career(s).

Here are some tips we think will help improve your students math abilities

Building Confidence
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.

Provide Incentives
Offering incentives and rewards for improvements in math grades can make a big difference. This is especially true in the early grades of K – 4. Most students respond well to positive reinforcement, so give it a try!

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.

Give Them a 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. Showing them practical applications and the value of math in the ‘real’ world is a real key in lovin’ math.

Get Them to Teach It
Have your student explain their math homework to you or tutor younger siblings or 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 higher grades and college.

Harbouring 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 overall grade point averages. Help your student to change their attitude towards math and revolutionize their school experience.

Note: This post was adapted from a 9/14/2012 Tutor Doctor post titled ‘How to be Good at Math

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Filed under Academic Advice, Improved Learning

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