One of the typical pain points for students at school is maths. It is such an important subject and life skill to take on to further education and your career. Learning maths from a young age helps develop problem-solving skills for everyday life.
Children can struggle with maths at any age. With primary schools being such a hotbed of learning, it can often be hard for parents to keep up with how their child is progressing. However, at one time or another, you may be told or find out the hard way that your child is struggling with maths.
Some kids who have trouble with math just need more time and practice to learn math skills. Others need extra help and support to get there.
Learn more about some of the most common maths challenges kids face and what can help:
What Do We Mean by ‘Struggling’ With Maths?
Every child learns and develops their maths skills at a different rate, so it is hard to accurately judge whether a student is struggling or just developing at their own pace. Determining where your child is within the expectations of their age range or year group is definitely a good place to start.
This means that you should take into context the difficulty of the work and how other students are coping. The problems may be hard for the whole maths class and not designed for students to get full marks or close to full marks.
However, here are some basic problems that every student is expected to have learnt by a certain stage and should look out for. For example, you might see your child struggling with very simple concepts, like ‘more’ and ‘less’ and ‘bigger’ and ‘smaller.’ Your child might also have trouble understanding amounts or the order of things in a list, such as ‘first,’ ‘second’ or ‘third.’
The ability to understand these and other basic concepts is known as number sense. When kids have poor number sense, it makes it hard to learn maths.
Why is Maths so Hard?
There are a number of reasons why students can find maths difficult. This can be to do with the personality of the student or the way that it is currently taught. Sometimes, certain learning and thinking differences are a factor. This includes a common math learning difficulty called dyscalculia, which you can research online to make an initial assessment as to whether this affects your child.
Let’s look at some of the common hurdles.
One sign that your child is struggling is ‘maths anxiety.’ This is where the student hates maths at school and at home, so they avoid doing homework or get upset when they have to do it. They may cry before tests or disengage with classes. Kids get so stressed out about math that it gets in the way of learning the subject. It can make it seem like they’re struggling with maths, even if they aren’t.
Understanding this can allow you to see that they are disconnected from learning maths and it could be rectified by having it taught to them in a way they connect with. This is where maths tutoring in Birmingham can help, with personalised lessons that suit them.
There is also an element of brain-style in the big picture, according to many scientists. There will always be opposing views on any topic, especially on the workings of the human brain, but many theorists believe that people are wired with different math comprehension skills.
The common left brain and right brain theory comes into play here. According to some brain science scholars, logical, left-brain thinkers tend to understand things in sequential bits, while artistic, intuitive, right-brainers are more global. They take in a lot of information at one time and let it “sink in.” So left-brain dominant students may grasp concepts quickly while right-brain dominant students don’t. To the right brain dominant student, that time-lapse can make them feel confused and behind.
There is no real evidence to support this theory of left and right brain thinking but there is also no evidence to disprove it. Regardless of this theory, there is a definite trend in which more creative thinkers find maths more difficult and will struggle. Not every subject is a natural fit for children but they can still learn if they are taught correctly. There is one core issue in the current maths curriculum that affects both KS2 students and maths GCSE students alike.
Maths As Cumulative Discipline
Maths is a cumulative subject to learn; meaning the subject and your understanding is built in a stack of building blocks. You have to gain understanding in one area before you can effectively go on to ‘build upon’ another area. Our first mathematical building blocks are established in primary school when we learn rules for addition and multiplication, and those first concepts comprise our foundation.
A key issue is that with schools setting more and more targets and cramming in more than ever, the class may move on before these building blocks are established. Students may pass the exams, but not with high grades. Then they will move on to the next level with shaky foundations, making it more difficult to learn the more complex ideas.
This can be rectified by tutoring centres or help at home from parents. Any student who receives a lower pass grade in a math class should thoroughly review their performance to be sure to pick up the concepts they’ll need later. This will allow them to run into fewer hurdles later on.
As mentioned before, one of the hurdles that students face when studying maths is how it fits in with their learning style. It is often taught in a very rigid way at schools, meaning a lot of students get left behind. In real life, you can approach maths however you see best and you can then thrive.
Maths is a time-consuming subject, which is why students fall behind. You speak English every day and you often see science occurring in small areas of life. Maths, in the way that it is taught, is far less tangible and you need to sit down and dedicate the time to it.
Firstly, do not try to memorise the processes. This is counter-productive. It is much better and rewarding in the long-run to focus on understanding the process and logic that is involved. This will help students understand how they should approach such problems in the future.
Remember that maths is a sequential subject; so it’s important to have a firm understanding of the key concepts that underpin a mathematical topic before moving on to work on other, more complex solutions which are based on understanding the basics.
Therefore, a key part of understanding maths is trying to find weaknesses and understand why these areas are becoming problematic. When practising with problems, it’s important to work through the process for each solution. If children have made any mistakes, you should review them and understand where their problem-solving skills let them down.
Helping Your Children at Home
Struggling with math can make kids feel like they’re not smart and that can take a toll on their self-esteem. Let your child know that everyone struggles with something and that all people have strengths too. Help your child develop a growth mindset and stay motivated to keep trying, even when math is hard. There are lots of ways you can help your child build math skills:
- Look into board games and books that help younger kids build math skills
- Explore fun techniques that use more than one sense
- Bring maths and mathematical problems into real-world situations and games.
- Be positive and rewarding – make maths a positive experience.
- Study maths a little bit every day.
Get Support from Tutors
Our private classes really support your child’s development, allowing them to get that extra attention often missed in overcrowded and stressful school classrooms. The small and intimate nature of our classes means your child gets the devoted attention they need to succeed, allowing the teachers to build upon their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Achieving Success provides you with 4 tutoring centres where you can schedule lessons with private maths tutors in Birmingham. There are a variety of classes and levels to help boost your child’s overall maths ability and understanding. We take the time to understand your child’s individual needs and ensure we tailor the right class for your child. Get in touch today.