I recently spoke to a mother about the current struggles her child is facing with his math education. She told me,
I’m fed up; I’m not sure if my son is being lazy or if he just doesn’t care. He keeps making careless mistakes by forgetting steps or forgetting to add the number he carried.
After asking a number of questions we found she was doing a tremendous job at home helping her son and she was adamant that he was mastering each concept before moving on. She wasn’t a Math-U-See user at the time, but understood the importance of student mastery.
We found that, at one time, he did have all of his math facts memorized, but he lost them somewhere along the way and was now counting on his fingers.
Memorizing Math Facts is Important
When students count on their fingers, or in their head, it shows that they lack confidence in their ability to find the answer. It also hinders their ability to solve larger problems. The student reasons, if I don’t have confidence with these smaller problems, how can I have confidence with these larger problems?
Consider this problem: 8+3.
A student can easily find the answer by counting (8…9, 10, 11), but they’re not actually adding or combining the separate values. Instead, they are counting. When they get to more complicated concepts without mastering this skill, it can become very overwhelming for the student and will ultimately result in negative emotions around mathematics as a whole.
What we discovered with this mom’s son is that he wasn’t being lazy and he did care. The problem was, he was stressed because he did not have these key concepts mastered before moving forward.
Math Stress and Anxiety
In conjunction with his stress was his math anxiety. He was nervous to make a mistake in front of his mom, and he wanted to rush through the math portion of his day as fast as possible. He tried to answer each problem too quickly and began making simple mistakes by over-counting or under-counting on his hands, or sometimes he forgot to add the number he carried.
We have come to realize that when stress is involved, it is difficult for students to focus on the problem at hand. By having the math facts memorized, the student’s confidence goes up, they are able to focus on new concepts, and they are less likely to make simple mistakes.
AIM Could Help
If your student is having trouble memorizing their math facts, AIM could help.
Our Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) program uses a combination of proven Math-U-See strategies and manipulatives with an accelerated focus on developing fundamental math tools. Students missing these tools experience difficulty processing complex mathematical concepts.
AIM replaces ineffective math habits (like counting on fingers) and processes with effective strategies designed to be understood concretely and stored in long-term visual memory for quick retrieval. AIM equips the instructor to assess for mastery and assure students are ready to move onto the next concept. Successful completion of AIM provides the student with the opportunity to build confidence and find a higher level of success in solving more complex concepts.
Contact us and we will be happy to provide assessments and a plan to help your student find confidence in math!