Math is one of the fundamental skills that students develop through their school years. It’s a skill that appears in every aspect of our life, though we hardly realize it. It’s also one of the subjects students have the most difficulty with. If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for ways to help your student improve their skills and bring up those grades. Try the tips below:
Practice mental math
Many students who struggle with Math have a hard time with the subject because they don’t fully grasp the basics. Always keep reviewing the most basic concepts and make sure your student has a firm grasp on how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with integers, fractions, and decimals. One way you can help them polish this skill is by having them do mental math periodically. Test them on their times tables and division skills by throwing out random problems from time to time.
Word problems/Math in the real world
Many students just don’t get word problems. First and foremost, many students just see a block of text and don’t know where to start. Coach them to take on the problem one sentence at a time. With each sentence they read, they should write down any relevant information – that means any numbers and information that indicates any relationships between two or more things or a number and something else. This helps make the information more digestible and helps the student avoid a situation where their brain shuts off just by looking at the problem.
The second reason students have trouble with word problems is that they don’t truly understand the concept they’re practicing. Have them review the basics and practice the core concepts until they have a better grasp on the material. Then, review the word problem again and point out how the math applies to the real world.
Last, just expose them to math in the real world! Is your student working on adding and subtracting? Have them try to beat the cash register, and see if they can calculate your change faster than the machine can. They don’t understand how percents work? Take some coupons or show them a sale, and help them calculate the new price, discount, sales tax, and more. Like to buy in bulk versus single items? That’s an Algebra problem. Have your child calculate the price per unit of the bulk purchase and compare it to the single-item price.
Drill drill drill, and work on speed
The one thing students don’t do enough is practice. Many are more than happy to end their “study time” by finishing whatever homework they’ve been assigned. While that certainly helps them grasp the concept, it’s just busy work unless they’re taking the time to review their notes and review their mistakes in approaching each problem. Homework assignments are often the bare minimum a student needs to do to somewhat grasp the concept. If you want to be confident your student understands a concept, they should continue working on problems over and over until they can easily recognize the key bits of information needed for each problem and work through the problem with ease. There’s no doubt this method can be a little boring, but improving isn’t always easy.
Furthermore, work with your child on improving the speed with which they’re able to complete problems. Unfortunately, schools don’t have all the time in the world to access your child’s proficiency, so tests and quizzes must have some sort of time constraint. It doesn’t matter much grades-wise if your student understands the concept but can’t finish within the allotted timeframe. This is especially important later on when they will be working on much more complex math. If your student is struggling with the basic operations, it only makes the more complicated problems more painful and take longer. Higher levels of math can involve multiple steps. Each step is a math problem within a math problem, which only makes the issue worse for a struggling student.
Have them teach
One of the best signs that someone understands a concept is their ability to explain it to someone else. If they’re able to explain what they’ve learned to you or a stranger in a way that makes sense, they’re on the right path. Better yet, if you have younger children, you can have the older one explain concepts as part of their study time. It will help the older one solidify their understanding of the concept while helping the younger student get ahead.
Did you find these tips useful? If so, we’d love to hear from you about it or any other suggestions you may have. We’re always developing resources to help students and their families. If you feel that this is a challenge you can’t quite take on, we’d love to help coach your student to success. Our tutors have excellent math skills. Get in touch!