Math is more than just a part of academics; it is essential for everyday life. We often think that math is an innate skill, but it can be learned. It may be that your child loves school in general, but hates math.
He or she may study hard, but still fail math tests. You may have repeatedly reviewed math facts with your child, but he still cannot remember them.
It may be that your child is proficient in math calculation, but struggles with story problems. Alternatively, your child may possess a conceptual understanding of story problems, but fail math tests due to mistakes in calculation.
Your child needs not only to understand math concepts in order to solve them, but also to explain his reasoning.
What do challenges with Math look like?
- Hating math?
- Saying he is bad at math?
- Understanding conceptually but still getting the answers wrong?
- Not remembering addition or multiplication facts?
- Requiring lots of help with homework?
- Becoming easily frustrated on math assignments?
- Studying hard but still failing math tests?
- Crying at the table over long division homework?
- Getting good grades in Language Arts but failing math?
Why is Math happening?
Math skills are used in completing math computations throughout the lifespan. Individuals with math problems will struggle despite effort and practice. Some children are proficient in math calculation, but struggle with the language and conceptual aspects of explaining their thinking. Most current math curriculums require a student to describe how they arrived at their answers to receive full points. Even mathematically inclined individuals may struggle with explaining their thinking processes. It may be that your child possesses strength in understanding math concepts, but makes careless mistakes in calculation, resulting in wrong answers and much frustration. Alternately, there could be struggles with calculation and procedural math. This would mean that they may understand what is being asked, but cannot process the calculations or step-by-step procedures needed to get the right answer. Your child’s math skills should develop along a continuum. Just like the importance of language literacy, math skills are essential for academic success and functioning in life.
How can I manage Math at home?
Math is an important part of development and learning. Children who struggle in math are likely to have trouble with other academic areas. Though math is critically important, it is often not given the same attention as literacy.
The principles of one-to-one correspondence (counting while pointing to the correct object in the sequence), subatizing (seeing how many objects there are without counting them), and place value (knowing that in the number “10,” the number “1” represents “10”) are of just as much importance as knowing one’s ABC’s.
Math skills will serve your child throughout life, or they may hamper his or her success through school and beyond.
If your child struggles with math beyond kindergarten or first grade, it is important to put interventions in place or have an assessment. If your child in elementary school cannot count with one-to-one correspondence, assess place value, or properly subatize, then you have adequate reason to be concerned.
Talk to your school about your child’s problems in math. Your child scoring below the 12th percentile or approximately two grade levels behind peers may qualify him for special education services.
Alternatively, it may be that weekly tutoring or intervention in the classroom can meet your child’s needs. Most public schools have a Response to Intervention program where students are provided with evidence based interventions targeting the specific area of need. As a parent, you can request that your child be referred to the RtI process. If your child’s progress does not appear to be sufficient (and scores are significantly below the benchmarks), most schools will then consider an evaluation for special education services.
If you have significant concerns about your child’s math skills, you can formally request an evaluation from your school or go to an outside clinic to have your child’s academic abilities tested. If an outside evaluation reports learning problems, consider taking the formal report to your child’s school to seek a comprehensive evaluation for services.
Keep in mind, special education services are by nature reserved for students with disabilities only. As such, many children who struggle in math will still not qualify for services. See ‘Educationally Identified Disabilities’ article for more on the special education process.
How can Clear Child Psychology help with Math?
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Once we understand your child’s needs, we will help families get connected to the right specialists. No more guesswork, no more wasted time and resources.
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Our Coaching Packages allow us to continually support families as they continue their journeys. Parental coaching, life-skills practice, and school advocacy are just a few examples of ways we help.