Careers · Education Trends

The Problems With Mathematics

Like many people, I am in no way a mathematician, a trait that my son has inherited. Living in London, where there is even a mathematical tour of the city, this has made me smile. Some people, even though they manage on a day-to-day basis, are just not mathematically inclined. It depends on how your brain is wired. Regardless of this, it is considered to be one of the main subjects at school which you have to get some sort of qualification in. This puts pressure on those who, for whatever reason, do not gel with the subject and, in turn, can cause a student significant amounts of stress. Being able to provide support for such a student is important.



Things That Can Cause Difficulties With Learning Maths


An incomplete understanding of the basic building blocks of maths can cause problems. If a child cannot master the basics of units, tens, and simple arithmetic before the rest of the class moves on, that child will always be at a disadvantage – resulting in a constant struggle to understand. Problems with understanding language and the meaning of mathematical concepts can cause difficulties, as can the inability of some people to comprehend visual or spacial aspects. Some students may have problems computing things and make simple mistakes by misreading symbols or columns, which may mean that they fall behind even when they are perfectly capable of higher-level mathematical thinking. The fact that sometimes maths can be so conceptual also causes some students difficulties.


Signs to Look Out For


There are a few things to look out for that are strong indicators that a student might be struggling with their maths classes:


  • Output problems – inability to remember basic maths rules and processes, slowness in retrieving this information, forgetting how to resolve a maths problem halfway through on a regular basis
  • Organisational difficulties – being unable to follow a problem through its sequential steps, not being able to interpret the goal of a mathematical problem because of language difficulties and a lack of understanding, not being able to prioritise the solution and concentrating on other elements of the task
  • Attention difficulties – fidgeting and lack of concentration, tiredness and not being able to get to the end of problems within the allotted time
  • Spacial, visual, or ordering difficulties – inability to appreciate changes in objects as they are moved in space, difficulty following problems with multiple steps or pages, difficulty reading an analogue clock


Ways to Help When a Student Is Struggling


Getting the correct support at the right time is especially important with mathematics because it is so easy to lose any understanding of what is being taught as the course goes forward. This can lead to low self-esteem, and you will find that, quite often, a student will not tell the teacher that they are struggling. The pressure put on teachers to teach the curriculum to a class as a whole leaves little time for noticing the stragglers. As a parent, keep an eye on how your child is doing in their mathematics classes and check regularly with their teachers if you think that there may be a problem. If a student is behind and having problems, either with mathematics as a whole or with individual topics, then it is always worth considering getting a maths tutor. I did for my son and was surprised by just how many options I had when it came to finding maths tutors in West London. Do your research and make sure you get the best tutor for your child. Word of mouth and referrals from friends are priceless.


If you do become aware of problems, be understanding. It is not something that has been done intentionally. Furthermore, although some students might get through and pass their exams with help from tutors in West London, sometimes it is best to accept that mathematics is not their subject and to concentrate on the ones that they excel at. Provide the right support, and people will thrive.



Image attributed to digitalart


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