Figuring Out How to Excel in Mathematics

Starting the year off right in mathematics is important because mathematical concepts build on each other. ResponsiveEd’s academic team has some tips for starting off the school year so that students build a strong mathematics foundation.

  • Always have notes from class, a textbook or other resources right next to the homework. If your children get stuck, they are likely to find a similar problem in one of these resources that can help them move forward.
  • Ensure students takes responsibility for their own learning by finding assistance independently; the ability to access help on their own is essential for student success in all areas of academics.
  • Never give children the answers to problems. By giving away answers, you are depriving your children of the chance to develop the mental processes required to learn a new concept. No parent enjoys seeing their children struggle, but providing answers could set them up for frustration when they have to tackle more difficult problems and might even stunt their progress as classmates move to more advanced lessons. Furthermore, your children’s teachers will not be able to address the misconceptions or areas of weakness that should be targeted in school if homework assignments do not reflect the students’ level of understanding.
  • Encourage your children to underline or highlight key words or phrases in situational problems, as these often help students set up a solution.
  • Realize that your children may struggle with abstract concepts if their brains are not quite ready to reason at an abstract level. Your children’s brains will mature in time, and success in math class is likely to accompany this development.
  • If your children are frustrated by mathematics, show them how to focus on concepts rather than procedural knowledge. This might help some students approach and solve problems in a different way—one that makes more sense to them. For instance, ask your children to explain one problem in their assignment each night. If possible, choose one that incorporates both words and computation. If your children are simply reciting step-by-step instructions, encourage them to elaborate by asking questions focusing on the “why” of the problem.

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Bridget Weisenburger

Author Bridget Weisenburger

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