Math can be one of the most challenging subjects for students, and a high percentage struggle with their math classes throughout each grade. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First, if students don’t fully comprehend basic mathematical concepts that build upon each other, they may easily get lost as instruction becomes more advanced. Here’s a typical example: if “Johnny” doesn’t really understand decimals, fractions, and ratios by eighth grade, Algebra 1 in 9th grade may seem overwhelming.
Second, parents who openly express their distaste or anxiety about math may unwittingly ‘pass along’ these fears to their children. In fact, one research study showed that students with a positive attitude toward math achieved better results than those with a negative attitude. Third, teachers may not recognize when students are slipping behind, particularly when class sizes are large and there is little time for individual assistance.
Students who are embarrassed about not grasping concepts may not ask for help and fail to catch up. Finally, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of students have a condition called dyscalculia, which is a math learning disability and diagnosed inconsistently.
However, failing math in high school can have far-reaching consequences. Students who fail math classes repeatedly are more likely to drop out of high school or not attend college or trade school. Failing math in college can be a roadblock to progressing in science, technology, or engineering fields, delay graduation, possibly negate a scholarship, and decrease the chances of getting into graduate school.
Private math tutoring, whether one-on-one or in a small group, can overcome previous poor instruction, turn around a student’s attitude, and increase self-confidence and motivation. We can all remember teachers who made learning fun and relevant, and the ‘ah-ha’ moments when we finally grasped a difficult concept. Given the importance of math literacy to a child’s future, it’s best to address math difficulties as early as possible, before the child falls too far behind. A math tutor can help the student understand foundational concepts, prepare for tests, and achieve better grades.