It’s a Monday afternoon, and your teenager just ran through the door, swinging off a backpack loaded with books onto her designated chair at the dining room table. The backpack landed with an unexpectedly loud thump – much louder than usual.
“Why is your backpack so heavy?” you ask, ever the curious mother, hoping the response will elicit more than the reflexive eye-roll accompanied by a heavy shrug.
“Math books” Curious by the plural response versus singular, you crack open the backpack after your teen sulks away to stream Netflix for a bit before dinner.
You discover two thick Algebra books and find yourself baffled by their contents. After all, the last time you read any substantive math content was longer ago than you’d care to admit.
The frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm brought by studying and expecting to excel in Algebra is likely being hidden by your teen.
This scenario is not unique to you– in fact, it is a scenario that a large percentage of American teenagers experience. And their parents– you– likewise possess little math savvy to help them excel.
So why is your teen struggling in math? We break down four primary reasons why your teen is struggling with math and how to help.
Memorization is not Greater than Critical Study
Memorization can help students remember basic information to repeat it later, but it does not allow long-term comprehension.
Meaningful learning practices that leverage critical thinking and modern-day application have been proven to go farther than just regurgitating information on command.
When high school math becomes challenging, students benefit from added context and applicability of the new concepts to foster a deeper understanding of the more subtle components of more advanced math subjects, including most high school math.
Unfortunately, many programs focus on rote memorization with flashcards and repetition versus more creative approaches to help with algebra learning.
Too Much Emphasis on Long Over Efficient Study
The saying “Study smarter, not harder” is, indeed, a thing. However, even still, many students are urged to spend long hours studying to see success. Of course, the culture of “long hard study” bleeds into college and later professional years, forcing people into burnout with little productivity to show at the end of the day.
If you find your teen falling asleep at her desk at 10:00pm at night with an Algebra book cracked open again and again, it is time to explore new modalities to ensure efficient and effective study outcomes. Apps, games, e-courses, and communities are effective ways to improve your teen’s math skills and grades.
Boring Teaching Breeds Boring Results
Not to throw teachers under the bus (the school bus, specifically), but math is too often taught in boring, old-fashioned ways. Understandably, American school teachers do not always have the resources at their disposal to “shake things up,” but gamification, group exercises, and eCourses can go a long way.
Fantasy football equations, battle cards, and even exploring applying popular TV shows to math can bring fun into the equation.