The most common myth that we address is the concern that a student is behind in math. We can often diffuse this concern by asking what age a student must be to take upper-level math or to start studying fractions. Worry soon turns to relief when parents realize that their student is right where they need to be.
Students are never behind.
It won’t make a difference in 20 years whether a student studied fractions at age 12 instead of 10. The primary indicator when moving from one mathematical concept to another is a child’s readiness and background in math, not their age or grade level.
Is Your Student Behind in Math?
When you observe your student exhibiting one or more of the following in their math lessons, it’s normal to become concerned about their progress in math:
- Your student is not ready for the math curriculum suggested by their corresponding grade level.
- They are working at a lower level than their peers.
- Math does not come quickly or easily to them.
- Your student does not seem to retain previously learned information.
- Math lessons are frustrating and emotional.
The first step to supporting your child is to try to accept that your student is where they are in regarding math skills.
This is where it starts to get exciting!
Now you can focus on learning what your student knows and doesn’t know, making it less of a guessing game. This helps reveal any foundational learning gaps your student may have. Filling in these gaps sequentially allows your student to move from math tension to math confidence. This will have a domino effect on more complex math concepts, which will no longer be a source of frustration.
Math is Sequential
The subject of math is sequential, so you need a strong foundation that is built by mastering concepts in order. The process cannot be rushed or the gaps in understanding can bring frustration. These gaps in your student’s mathematical foundation can lead to difficulties in upper levels of math. An older student who has moved through successive math classes based solely on their age (as opposed to their acheivement or understanding) will often have gaps in fundamental concepts. This may result in needing to redo earlier levels or use a supplemental program, such as our Accelerated Individualized Mastery program, before moving on.
Catching a Vision
You can greatly influence the vision for your student’s math career by help them focus on what’s best for them. Thinking that they’re “behind” in math indicates that someone is “ahead” by comparison, which adds unnecessary competition and stress to the equation.
For example, you can help your student visualize success by focusing on what’s best for them specifically.
What if the two of you spend a school year, starting where your student currently is, and put together a plan to fill in mathematical gaps? Your student will build confidence as they begin to thrive at their individual pace.
You might be concerned that your student doesn’t have the necessary time to back up too far. What if, as a result of pausing and filling in important math gaps, a 6th grader masters Epsilon (the Math-U-See level on fractions) or confidently completes half of that level? This would place them in the Zeta level (decimals and percentages) by some point in 7th grade, and on track for PreCalculus in 12th grade.
It’s okay if a math book isn’t completed at the end of the school year. If one level takes a year and a half, for example, that’s totally fine. The student in this scenario has the potential of not only completing but being confident in their math skills through graduation. They would then be posed for success in whatever future they are working towards.
Plan for Success
When you’re done evaluating your student, a strategy for beginning an individualized plan can begin. As part of your planning, a realistic “what if” vision can provide a renewed perception of potential and hope.
Sometimes a student’s apparent lack of progress is related to their foundational skills. Our Accelerated Individualized Mastery program is a common solution to increase confidence in math.
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If you have questions about teaching math, we are here to help!Get in Touch