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Why do so many kids struggle with math problems?

STEM education is a really important part of education for children. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These four aspects permeate every part of our daily life, so knowledge regarding these is essential to our education. However, kids all over the country struggle with STEM education, especially Math problems. Why?

The answer lies within the subject itself. Children, at an early age itself, start having difficulties and struggle with math. And this struggle with math continues growing with them and by the time they reach grade 9 or 10, they have a really hard time grasping concepts. This generalized math anxiety among children is a very common phenomenon. However, struggling with math problems does not mean that a child isn’t smart or intelligent. It is just a matter of aptitude and practice. With a little guidance & practice, children can perform much better in their academics.

Reasons why kids struggle with Math problems

Math is a sequential subject

In Maths, concepts are taught and understood in association with the previously learnt concepts. It is a subject which is similar to stairs, you can climb up by taking one step at a time. Children will have a hard time learning new concepts if the previous concept is not understood properly. If you try to skip a step or jump directly to the third or fourth step, you will end up falling. Kids often feel scared or embarrassed to ask their teachers about concepts which have been taught already. But, it is necessary for kids to be thorough with their foundation or previous concepts, because if they are not, then they will not be able to solve math problems.

There is not enough practice when it comes to Math

Practice makes a man perfect. But we often forget this when we are solving math problems. One of the most common reasons why kids struggle with math is that they don’t practice enough. Math is a subject which needs constant reviewing and constant revision but many kids simply don’t do it. It is very common for kids to think that they understand a concept which is taught in school. They become confident about it and end up not practising it. But when the concept is applied in a math problem and they are told to solve it, they are unable to do so. So with math, there is no shortcut. One has to patiently practice again and again.

Math requires attention

Math is a subject where one needs to give their undivided attention in order to grasp concepts. Math problems consist of multiple steps. If kids get distracted while solving a problem, it is very easy for them to get a particular step or number wrong. So it is very important to pay attention when solving math problems. Kids have a hard time focusing on a particular task at hand for too long. And this is the reason why so many kids struggle with math.

The practical use of Math

One of the reasons why kids struggle with math is because they think of math as a very vague and abstract subject. They question the practicality of the subject and its application in our life. Kids often question long math problems, wondering how they will use it in their day to day life. There is a constant struggle that kids have when they try to connect concepts like “fraction” or “mensuration” to reality. This doubt or struggle in their minds and their inability to relate it and do associative learning is the reason why a lot of kids struggle.

Learning concepts instead of understanding them

The problem when it comes to math is that kids are studying it wrong. It is very common for kids to try to learn math instead of understanding it. Kids often try to learn math concepts like they will try to learn their history answers. But that doesn’t work because math exams rely on the application of the concept. One cannot just rote-memorize a particular question and write an exam. So instead of trying to learn it by repetitive learning, kids need to actually understand and know what the concept is really about in order to do well.

Math anxiety

There is a particular label which is associated with math. Math is considered a very hard subject and there is a general consensus that it is nearly impossible to do well in math. This particular mindset creates Math Anxiety. Kids get intimidated by maths beforehand and they get stressed out when they are performing math problems. The stress and the fear that kids feel when it comes to all things math prevents them from doing their best.  As long as math anxiety is present in a child, they will always struggle with math.

Learning disabilities

Sometimes a child’s struggle with math can be due to a more biological reason. Children with learning disabilities have a really hard time when it comes to the subject.  Children with dyscalculia find it hard to do basic arithmetic which results in the struggle with math. They may also take a longer time to solve math problems. Dyscalculia also affects estimation abilities. Children with dyscalculia need calculators in order to solve math problems.

Methods which will help kids improve in Math

The constant battle between school kids and math is here to stay for quite a while. However, here are a few tips which will help children against their struggle with maths.

Practice makes the Child excellent

The best way to tackle math is by practising. Math is just like a musical instrument. The more effort and time a child gives to solving math problems, the better they will get at it. Kids need to practice each concept thoroughly. And according to the difficulty of the concept, spend more time practising it. Math is just like learning a foreign language. The result will depend on how much effort you are putting into it. If a child wants to be “fluent” in math, they will have to interact with the subject as much as they can.

Understanding concepts

Since math is an application-based subject, memorizing usually does not work. Kids need to know and understand the logic behind every concept and formula in order for them to excel in math. They will be using the concept rather than the questions. Hence, it is very important for them to realize the “why” behind a particular concept. Rote memorization does not work in math except for when they have to learn formulas.

Get active when it comes to Math

Math is a subject which requires full attention. Children have to go beyond just passively sitting in the classroom and listening to the teacher. They will have to actively participate and clear their doubts. And later on, they have to sit down and go through the concept again by solving various math problems. Math concepts are interrelated and sequential. So it requires children to put more effort and make co-relations between concepts and use concepts together.

Going the extra mile with Math worksheets and games

When it comes to math, doing more is never bad. There are many math games online that improve mental math abilities. Children should start playing them as they can help a lot in improving their arithmetic. Along with math games for kids, there are also a lot of math worksheets available off the internet. Kids should be encouraged to solve them. These math worksheets and math games keep them engaged and the idea that math is fun is enforced. Moreover, children learn a lot of application based skills by solving math problems in these different exercises.

Getting Math help or guidance

It is common for kids to have a hard time dealing with math. It can be a very hard and burdensome subject if it is not approached properly. So if a child is finding it difficult to cope up with it, additional help should be considered. Children should be encouraged to do group study meets so that they can learn along with their peers by solving math problems together. They should also be made aware that asking and approaching teachers in case of a doubt, is the way to about. Parents should also sit and supervise their children when they are solving math problems or doing their math homework. If a child is lagging behind a lot, hiring a tutor also helps. The tutor can teach and clear up concepts which they are finding difficult.

When it comes to math, active participation is the key. As children grow older, the concepts will get harder and more complicated. Abstract concepts like algebra, trigonometry, and calculus will also be introduced. In order to successfully tackle such concepts, it is necessary to have a solid and thorough understanding of basic concepts right from the start. The building blocks are the most important in math. That is why we must build them strong and reliable  

- Truth about the left brain and right brain relationship []