Is My Student Behind? Actually Behind?
When you observe your student exhibiting one or more of the following in their math lessons, it is hard to not become concerned about whether your student is behind or not:
• Your student is not ready for the math curriculum suggested by their corresponding grade level.
• They are working at a lower level than another child the same age.
• 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 be realistic while avoiding the “my student is behind” mindset. There is no such thing as “behind.” Wherever they are regarding math skills at this moment—for whatever reason—is where they are.
Not Behind? Where Are They?
This is where it starts to get exciting!
Now you can focus on learning what your student knows and does not know. Without this information, an effective plan will be more of a guessing game. Often finding out what your student does not yet know will reveal foundational learning gaps. When these gaps are filled sequentially, your student will be set up to move from math tension to math confidence. Filling in these pieces will have a domino effect on more complex math concepts, which were previously a source of frustration.
Catching a Vision
As the parent, you foster the vision you want for your student’s math career.
Is it best for your student to align their pace and process with standardized testing correlated with your student’s grade/age? Is comparing your student’s skills to other students you know a successful measurement for success or ability? Or would your student be better served by focusing on where they are and what they need to become confident and prepared for the next step? If we are honest, it’s likely that we want a little bit of all of the above.
Being “behind” indicates that someone is ahead in comparison. Consider this, in contrast: What if you spend a school year starting where the student is, putting together a plan to fill in gaps, and seeing confidence build as they begin to thrive at their individual success pace?
At this point, you might be concerned that your student does not have time to back up too far.
Let’s take a look at a possible “what if” scenario that I have seen play out many times.
What if, as a result of pausing and filling in important primary math gaps, a 6th grader masters Epsilon (the Math-U-See level on fractions) or confidently completes half of that level.
At some point in 7th grade, they would be in Zeta (decimals and percents).
8th grade – Pre-Algebra
9th grade – Algebra 1
10th grade – Geometry
11th grade – Algebra 2
So by 12th grade, they are quite possibly ready for PreCalculus.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it’s okay if a math book is not completed at the end of the school year. If one of the levels takes a year and a half to achieve mastery understanding, that’s fine. As you can see, the student in this scenario above has the potential of not only completing but being confident in Algebra 2 upon graduation. This student would then be poised for success in attending college, approaching military math tests with confidence, applying for jobs which require math knowledge, taking trade school entrance exams, or successfully starting their own business.
Once an evaluation of what is not yet known is completed, a strategy for beginning an individualized plan can begin. As part of your planning, a realistic “what if” vision, as indicated above, can provide a renewed perception of potential and hope.
Sometimes a student’s apparent lack of progress is related to their foundational skill sets (students who do not have their facts mastered often struggle as mathematics becomes more complex). Our Accelerated Individualized Mastery intervention programs are common solutions to escalate mathematical confidence.
For the Parent Who Doesn’t Feel Confident in Math
As a placement specialist working with families, I find most of my consults are not only worried about their student, but worry the student is somehow handicapped because the parent does not feel confident or feels they have fallen short.
YOU ARE THE BEST MATH TEACHER FOR YOUR STUDENT. If this weren’t true, you wouldn’t have read this far into this blog post.
You are the best person to:
• Authentically model to them enthusiasm for learning as you gain math confidence along with them.
• Demonstrate that taking time for math to marinate, to wrestle with it, and process it results in success.
• Give them the opportunity to genuinely teach you when they understand a math concept you do not yet know.
Begin your plan for success and discover what your student knows and does not yet know by using our online assessment. In that process, you will either find clarity or gather important information should you decide to contact one of our amazing Placement Specialists. We are here to assist in developing an individualized plan for your student. Math-U-See is intentionally designed to empower, not replace, you as the instructor. Assistance is available should you find that you and your students are not able to figure out a lesson.
Not only can we collaborate with your goal to no longer feel your student is behind, but we are also here for you in your learning process!
We Are Here to Help
Begin your plan for success and discover what your student knows and does not yet know by using our online assessment. In that process, you will either find clarity or gather important information should you decide to contact one of our amazing Placement Specialists. We are here to assist in developing an individualized plan for your student.
Thank you so much Sue, for your inspiring words and enthusiasm for helping to meet individual learners at their own level. You are wonderful!
Sue Wachter says
Thank you for your encouragement.
Sue is efficient and very professional. She answers very quickly.
Sue Wachter says
Thank you Robin. It has been a pleasure working with you.
Math is a fight with my 11 year old he is so far behind…in every thing. Can’t even do a full lesson in any curriculum.