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Is My Student Behind in Math?

It is hard to not become concerned about whether your student is behind or not.

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:

• Student is not ready for the math curricula which indicate their corresponding grade level.
• They are working at a lower level than another child the same age.
• Math does not come quickly or easily.
• The 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 taking steps to remove the “my student is behind” mindset. There is no such thing as “behind.” Wherever they are regarding math skill at this moment or for whatever reason, where they are 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 skills ofother 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 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 – Algebra1
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 job 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 vision of potential and hope.

For the Parent Who Doesn’t Feel Confident in Math

When working with families, as a placement specialist, 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.

If you are “that parent,” I want you to know (now, listen up!)…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 allowing time for math to marinate, wrestle, and process results in success.
• Give them the opportunity to genuinely teach you when they understand a math concept you do not yet know.

Regardless of your math confidence, 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 are can we collaborate with your goal to no longer feel your student is behind, we are here for you in your learning process!

Begin your plan for success, discovering what your student knows and does not yet know, by using our online assessment or by contacting a Demme Learning Consultant today.

About Sue Wachter

Sue is a Placement Specialist at Demme Learning. Sue has been consulting homeschool parents in regards to best curriculum choices for over 30 years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. She enjoys spending time with her family and teaches art classes. Her goal, whether in art or curriculum support, is to provide tools and inspiration for each individual's next step.

4 thoughts on “Is My Student Behind in Math?

  1. Ted

    Thank you so much Sue, for your inspiring words and enthusiasm for helping to meet individual learners at their own level. You are wonderful!


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