Overcoming Math Struggles

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Overcoming Math Struggles


Some kids who are great in social studies and science can have trouble just learning multiplication facts. Even kids who do well in social studies and science sometimes have trouble not only with the times table but anything to do with math. For these kids and their parents math homework turns into a nightmare.

I’ll never forget this adorable little 6th grader I worked with. She was smart, vivacious, talkative and loved school. Then she had to do fractions. Her whole personality changed as she went into panic mode. As the saying goes, “she looked like a deer in the headlights.”

She’s not alone. Many children panic when they hear the word math. The first thing you have to do is to learn why math is so difficult. Does your child have difficulty keeping the numbers in columns? If so, the problem may not be a math issue, but a writing problem that is causing kids to make mistakes. Turning narrow-ruled paper sideways so the lines are vertical can help kids keep the numbers in columns.

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Kids who have trouble with word problems often have a reading comprehension issue, not a math problem. Reading the problem aloud for your child can help. Of course, these kids need help with reading comprehension but working on reading while working on math at the same time only leads to frustration.

2. Does your child have difficulty remembering number facts? Some children have problems with sequential memory, such as, remembering unrelated facts that are in sequential order. A rhyme or song, even a game, often helps. You can find some math CDs and games on the web.

3. Kids learn in lots of different ways such as visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Flashcards help visual learners. Counting, adding, multiplying, subtracting and dividing real objects like crayons, buttons or small toys help kinesthetic learners.

4. One common problem is simply needing more time. Kids may understand math, know the math facts, and be able to do the problems but having to say them quickly in math drills makes them nervous. If you think this might be your child’s problem, talk to the teacher. Is it really a math challenge or a reading or writing problem. Is the style of teaching different from the way your child learns? Or does your child just need more time? The point is to find the cause and then you’ll be able to solve the problem.

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