4 Signs Your Child is Struggling with Math

by Cignition, on Jan 13, 2020 5:00:00 AM

Help my child is struggling with math!” Is this the chorus that’s repeating over and over in your head like a bad song that just won’t go away? If so, you’re not alone. There are a lot of struggling math students in every school, and many parents are unsure about how to help them. Especially if you work full-time, or have struggled with math yourself, it can be challenging to know what to say and do to support your child through this. As with most things, the first step is understanding the problem and its severity. So here are four signs your child is struggling with math. 

  • Evidence of a “Fixed” Mindset

When kids are frustrated by math concepts that are currently beyond their grasp, they often resort to what’s called a fixed mindset. They assume they just “aren’t good at math” or that math will always be hard for them. Luckily for you as the parent, a fixed mindset is easy to spot. Your child is demonstrating this type of mindset when they proclaim, “I’m so bad at math!” or “I’ll never know how to do fractions.” 

One of the best short-term solutions you can implement at home is to be intentional with your own language around math. Do you reinforce the idea that some people are just good at math, and others aren’t, by saying things like, “I know, honey, I was never good at math either,” or do you encourage them to keep practicing? Help your child understand that their brain is constantly growing, and every time they practice math, it gets stronger - and will be a little bit easier next time. 

Also teach them to add “yet” to any phrase that starts with, “I can’t.” For example, “I don’t know how to do fractions…yet. But I’m working on it.” Simple changes in language can cause changes in mindset that will do your child big favors when they approach math. 

  • Discouraged Attitude

Oftentimes, a discouraged attitude goes hand-in-hand with a fixed mindset. Kids decide they’re not good at something, and never will be, so they opt to avoid trying. After all, it can feel safer not to try rather than to try and fail. Your child may show this type of attitude in a number of ways, but often it comes out in the form of avoiding homework or turning in incomplete assignments. 

You’ll also likely hear them grumbling or even outright saying how frustrated or discouraged they are. Make sure to tell them these are normal feelings when something is hard, and reassure them you will get them the help they need to feel confident. 

  • Acting Out

Is your typically well-behaved child suddenly throwing things at home, or causing trouble in class? Acting out is a classic sign that something is wrong, and it can often indicate academic frustrations. Instead of getting mad right away or doling out punishments, try to talk with your child. See if you can get at the root of why the behavior is happening. 

They won’t always give you a straight answer, but if you notice that acting out always happens during math class or when they’re supposed to be doing their math homework, it’s pretty clear they need help in this area.

  • Excessive Time on Homework

Finally, how does your child do with homework? If they sit at the table for a full hour or more just to complete a short worksheet, they’re likely struggling. Sometimes parents confuse this with boredom since they might see their child staring out the window or blankly fiddling with a pencil. But more often than not, the child isn’t sure how to do the math problems in front of them so they get stuck in an “analysis paralysis” of sorts and spend far more time than necessary on their homework. 

Is your child showing any of these signs? If so, here’s how to help students struggling with math. Give us a call or fill out our scheduling form online so we can get your child in for a free initial session. We can help you devise the right plan from there, and get your child back on track.

Topics:MathematicsResearchParent ResourcesMath Tutoring

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