Whether it’s following hockey statistics or calculating the national debt, our daily lives add up to a lot of math. Every day, we rely on mathematical principles at home and work, including managing money and creating budgets, estimating time or distance, and tracking statistics to understand the nuances of a sport. Indeed, math fluency enriches a student’s life and can lead to long-term success. Unfortunately, high school students often struggle to grasp the core fundamentals of mathematics. An overwhelming number of high school students are not drawn to math as a subject. According to research, math anxiety decreases the math performance of students. Failure to learn fundamental math concepts early on can deter students from performing well in advanced math courses later on. Many factors such as short attention span, lack of practice, or some learning disorders can make it difficult for high school students to succeed in mathematics. Strong math fundamentals form a basis for how high school students in Canada perform in functions, advanced functions, calculus, and data management.
Five Reasons Why High School Students Struggle with Foundational Math Concepts
There is a misconception that math makes students anxious. From short attention span, learning difficulty, and math anxiety to lacking the basic knowledge of math fundamentals, there are many reasons that make high school students dislike math. Before we jump into the solutions to overcome math problems, let us first discuss the common issues faced by high school students in learning math:
1. Poorly Built Mathematical Foundation
The most common issue encountered by students when learning math is a lack of understanding of fundamental math concepts that are typically taught in elementary school. Some students feel uncomfortable disclosing to the teacher that they are struggling with a particular topic in class after the teacher has moved on to the next session. This is the most common reason why students fall behind in math class.
2. Ineffective Teaching Methods
Due to large student-to-teacher ratios, high school teachers are unable to customize their teaching methods to suit the entire class. They also fail to provide clarity on math fundamentals that many, if not all, students in the classroom are struggling with. The techniques, steps, and formulas taught in the classroom should be easy to comprehend and applicable to real-world scenarios.
3. Lack of Practice
Commonly, a lack of math practice stems from a lack of interest or math phobia. Many high school students have not spent enough time practicing math concepts in their elementary years. Moreover, many school teachers provide practice worksheets but not enough to master basic math concepts that form the foundation for higher-level math. It is, therefore, important for educators or math programs to revisit math topics and encourage their students to practice them regularly.
4. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
Students with ADHD are more likely to have math learning disabilities. This is because they have a shorter attention span as compared to the general student population, and they tend to rush through math problems. Unfortunately, most math educators are unable to give special attention to such students and guide them.
Dyscalculia, also known as number dyslexia or math dyslexia, is present in about 11% of children with ADHD. Students suffering from dyscalculia cannot make sense of numbers and struggle to solve complex math problems.
Seven Tips for High School Students to Learn Math Fundamentals Easily
Here are some quick tips for high school students to learn math fundamentals:
1. Identify the Problem and Get Help Sooner Rather than Later
Many students struggle but very few are fortunate enough to get the right math help before it’s too late. Most opt out of STEM careers due to their weak foundation or lack of confidence in math.
2. Select the Right Math Program
High School students may need to join a short refresher course on math fundamentals that will help them get a confidence boost in math. However, most tutoring programs do not offer such courses. They either require a long-term commitment from parents or focus on current grade-level math without tackling the math fundamentals.
3. Do Not Rely Too Much on a Calculator
For many students, practicing math is not something that comes easily. They start using calculators from a very early age, which makes them so dependent on their devices that they fail to show steps or understand basic calculations. High school students should not rely too much on calculators and understand why certain steps are required to solve a math problem rather than resort to shortcuts or quick fixes.
4. Don’t Be a Passive Learner
High school students should get active with their math learning. Passive math learners miss opportunities to make a connection of their learning with real life. One way to become an active math learner is by taking out time for practicing math fundamentals, at least, three to four times a week.
5. Practice Critical Thinking
High school math students should practice critical thinking to decode word problems and use logical arguments to verify mathematical concepts. With enhanced critical thinking and reasoning skills, they can identify a problem and come up with possible ways to find the solution.
6. Work Additional Exercises or Seek After School Math Help
High school students should try to challenge themselves and solve extra, unassigned questions from their school curriculum. Alternatively, joining an afterschool program can help high school students do extra practice questions and grasp math fundamentals more readily.
7. Collaborate and Grow
High school students can benefit from math study groups or work in pairs. Sometimes, a fellow student can help clarify a math concept for another student by looking at it differently.
The Benefits of Learning Math Fundamentals for High School Students
Students who master math fundamentals are:
- Critical thinkers
- Efficient at processing data
- Thrive in STEM careers
If you want your child to progress in mathematics through high school, college, and potentially into a STEM career, then give them an opportunity to build a robust foundation of mathematical concepts.
At Math Project, we encourage our students to become curious and agile thinkers. Our excellent after-school math enrichment program prepares high school students for college and beyond.
Want to know more about the Math Project? Contact us today!
Subject Matters: Students struggle with math fundamentals – http://edition.cnn.com
The Relationship Between Math Anxiety and Math Performance: A Meta-Analytic Investigation – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01613/full
Exploring How Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Are Related to Reading and Mathematics Performance: General Genes, General Environments – https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797610386617
What’s the Point of Teaching Math in Preschool? – https://www.brookings.edu
What Is STEM? – https://www.topuniversities.com