Yes, we get it, maths is everywhere and all around us.
It’s in everything we do. From the logic that makes our mobile devices and computers operate, to the mathematical principles used to create the buildings we live in. This mere fact however, doesn’t make the learning of maths any easier. Mathematics is one of the most challenging subjects in school today and it’s no wonder that many students tend to struggle, especially as they enter the latter stages of their secondary schooling and begin to prepare for their GCSEs. So, what can you do if you find your child returning to school after the February half term with absolutely no confidence in maths and just over a year to go until they sit their exams?
Check they have got their basics covered
One of the primary reasons students struggle in maths is because they have gaps in their knowledge. Maths is like a pyramid of cards (not the best analogy, we know): the bottom cards are essential for the cards at the top. If your child has missed understanding those essential bottom cards of concepts and theories, inevitably they’re going to have great difficulty understanding more complex concepts later. Like a pyramid of cards, they will fall apart. This is a major blow to anyone’s confidence so it’s important to check that your child has all the basics skills covered (a tutor could assess this quite quickly). If you’d like to do it, start with straightforward activities to review their comprehension of math vocabulary (percentage, gradient, etc) and concepts such as subtraction, fractions and formulating an equation.
Show them that maths can be part of everyday fun
When you don’t like or feel good about something, you’ll probably want to complete whatever the task may be as soon as possible. It’s the same for students struggling with maths. They’ll probably approach their work at school with a ‘let’s get it over and done with’ attitude. To combat this, you could try to make your child aware of how much maths is intertwined in daily life. Such as dealing with money, time, cooking measurements, sports statistics, calculating journey distances/lengths to their favourite places etc. Involving them in these maths related tasks as much as possible. You can hopefully help remove some of the fear they have of not being good at it, empowering them and providing them with confidence in their mathematical abilities.
Consider a tutor
Students who have low confidence in maths will probably not be the ones thriving in a classroom environment; often they’ll be struggling to keep up with the pace of lessons and reluctant to raise their hand to ask for help. Students learn at different speeds and get to grips with concepts and methods at their own pace. Working one to one with a tutor can provide them with the invaluable personal attention they may be lacking at school. Your child will also be working in a comfortable and relaxed environment meaning they will be in a much better place to interact with the tutor and hone in on the areas and topics they’re struggling with.