Some people believe that “smart” people should learn math easily. Is that something you believe?
Well if you do, you need to read this article that I found on ezine-articles.com!
I Know My Child Is Smart, So Why Can’t He Learn Math?
By Shirley Slick
The good news and short answer to the question: He can learn math! What needs to happen to make your child successful depends on the age of your child and the time and effort you and your child are willing to invest.
This pattern of children, who are successful in other areas, struggling with math is very common. And, unfortunately, it seems that there is not much being done to change this pattern. There is promise for the future in some relatively new brain research that has shown us that babies are actually born with an innate number sense just as they are born with an innate language sense. In addition, we have learned that the critical years for laying the foundation for logic and math success is ages 1 to 4. This runs contrary to what has historically happened with the education of our children. What has always been assumed is that parents of pre-school aged children would actually take on the task of helping their children with learning to walk, talk, develop language, and lay the foundation for reading and writing. At the same time, the child is receiving almost constant encouragement and reinforcement with the associated development of positive self-concept. Both parent and child just know the ability to learn is in place.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in mathematics. Until this new research, which is still unknown by most people, the assumption was that young children were not capable of learning mathematics; so parents did little more than introducing counting. And no one has ever expected any more. The result is that children are not getting the pre-school foundation and confidence that is necessary for future success in math. When these children enter school, they are quickly overwhelmed with the amount of new material presented with absolutely no foundation on which to build. The pace of new material increases as children move through school. Since they have no ingrained confidence in their own ability to learn they lack the persistence to keep trying for success. By the time these children reach high school and Algebra, the 50% failure rate becomes understandable–not acceptable–but understandable.
So what do we need to do for your child? Unfortunately, once your child is in school, that critical period of ages 1 to 4 has already been missed. This doesn’t mean things are hopeless. It just means that it will take more effort to overcome the weaknesses. My recommendations need to all be happening at the same time. First, you need to hire a tutor who specializes in assessment and skill repair. As the parent, you need to discuss with the entire family unit–aunts, uncles, grandparents–all the people who worked so diligently during the pre-school years to reinforce all of your child’s accomplishments with language to continue doing the same thing with math. Everyone in the family unit needs to be constantly reinforcing every success with math and also stressing the importance of mathematics to the child’s future. School, education, and mathematics all need to be talked about in positive terms. This is often the most difficult thing to do because so many adults had bad experiences with math for exactly the same reasons. We need to break the cycle. If your feelings about math are negative, then you will need to practice some positive talk.
It is appropriate to explain to your child about the new research into when the mathematics foundation should be started, stressing that you were a victim of this lack of information as well. But constantly stress to your child that you know that he/she is capable of learning. With a tutor working on skill repair and confidence building as well as family members showing an interest in your child’s success and stressing your child’s ability to learn, you should start seeing a turn to the positive very soon. The younger the child, the quicker this will happen. If your child is in high school, a turn around will take much longer but it is possible. The key really is your confidence in your child’s ability to learn. Frequently remind your child about the difficulty of learning to walk and talk and read and write. Your child mastered these, so learning anything really is possible. I hope it goes without saying that you must always be reinforcing your child’s accomplishments and never be critical of your child or punish results.
If your child is struggling with math when other subjects have not been problematic, then you really can turn things around pretty quickly. But it is important to start immediately. Include your child in every discussion and interviewing tutors. Make sure they understand that these efforts are to make their future better. Older kids sometimes resent this as intrusion and won’t cooperate. If your child is not cooperative, then you will be wasting your money. You may need to work on confidence building before you can work on skill repair. You cannot force an older child to want to learn. All you can do is your best. For older kids keep stressing that success is possible if your child chooses to succeed; and that you will help in every way you can.
Shirley Slick, “The Slick Tips Lady,” is a retired high school math teacher and tutor with degrees in Mathematics and Psychology and additional training in brain-based learning/teaching. Her goals: (1) to help parents help their children with math, (2) to help eliminate the horrendous Algebra failure rate, and (3) to inform the general public about problematic issues related to the field of education. For your free copy of “10 Slick Tips for Improving Your Child’s Study Habits,” visit her website at http://myslicktips.com/
So there you have it – just because you and/or your child are considered smart does not necessarily mean that you will learn math easily.
However, a little persistence and the correct steps will help to ensure that math is successfully learned.