The (Math) Struggle Is Real
Have you ever wondered why some students fare better than others in math? At the same time, kids who actually do well still experience the same type of anxiety that’s felt by those who struggle with it. So it’s safe to say that it's not uncommon for a person to experience math difficulties in school. However common this is, very little is known about the definitive root causes of this problem.
Experts have since been able to attribute neurobiological or environmental factors as probable causes, and have also identified certain traits that are common in those sufferers. Some of the traits properly explained in this article are as follows:
- Incomplete Mastery of Number Facts
- Computational Weakness
- Difficulty Transferring Knowledge
- Difficulty in making connections
- Incomplete Understanding of the Language of Math
- Difficulty Comprehending the Visual and Spatial Aspects and Perceptual Difficulties
Speaking from experience now, growing up with a math disability can really make you feel insecure. It can leave you confused when your other classmates outperforms you on math lessons that were taught the same way to everyone in class. Mathematics is always considered as a very important academic subject, so failing it over and over can be very discouraging. Aside from that, it can be very expensive to perform poorly in math. The pressure to perform well is always there. You’d really need to attend remedial classes after school hours and during the summer to make the grade.
Aside from the identified traits, experts have now also been able to identify that there is such a thing as a learning disability in math, called dyscalculia. It is defined as a condition that makes it difficult for the sufferer to perform tasks that involve math such as problem solving, and number dyslexia, which is a form of dyscalculia. Currently, there is no known way where people can overcome this, there have been strategies developed to help improve the math skills and navigate their way through the condition. Special instructions and accommodations in school, catered to people with dyscalculia surely helps to make math instructions easier.
Knowing what we already know about the struggles of many students with math, it is still encouraging to know that there is always help available. In the classroom setting, a more inclusive learning environment helps students keep up with the math lessons with the rest of those who perform better. For math teachers, here are some suggestions to help improve your student’s performance:
- Modifying teaching methods is important for the students to better understand the concepts behind the lessons. Also, this will help the students recall the lessons if they are able to apply this in real life situations.
- To bring fluency to their math problem-solving skills, daily practice exercises are encouraged.
- Follow all steps required to solve math problems
- Engage students in puzzles and games to encourage creativity
It is important to keep in mind that not all students learn at the same pace, despite being taught by their teachers at the same pace. If you’ve observed students struggling with math, opening a conversation with them will be very helpful, and much appreciated. It can be a long process, but for sure, the hard work and constant monitoring will surely pay off. Don’t forget to also have fun in the process—this will ease all the pressure and will help your students to have a renewed appreciation for math.