Talk to parents today and one of their major concerns regarding their kids’ education is making sure they have a good grasp of math – that their kids understand the concepts and can go beyond basic arithmetic. Over the last several years, in fact, parents are increasingly turning to math tutoring as their kids struggle with math. Just go online and do a Google search in math tutoring and the list of options is endless.
Math disabilities can arise at nearly any stage of a child’s scholastic development, and can keep children from performing up to their potential in school and then later in life. This is particularly true today with our reliance on technology and the demand for individuals who can think in abstract terms of math and science. Statistics show that a nine-year-old with a math disability has, on average, a fifth-grade level of math knowledge. A 17-year-old with a math disability has a fifth-grade level of math knowledge. Without assistance, children who are challenged by math will end up reaching a learning plateau in seventh grade.
Here are some cues parents can watch out for that that may indicate a child is struggling with mathematics and requires added assistance:
- Does the child have difficulties recalling basic math facts procedures, rules, or formulas?
- Is the child having difficulty maintaining precision during math work?
- Are there difficulties with handwriting that slow down written work or make it hard to read later?
- Is the child having difficulty remembering previously encountered patterns, or forgetting what he or she is doing in the middle of a math problem?
- Do organizational difficulties exist, such as becoming tripped up by multiple steps or elements of a problem, or losing appreciation of the final goal and over emphasizing individual elements of a problem?
- Is the child having difficulty identifying salient aspects of a mathematical situation, especially when it comes to word problems or other problem solving situations where some information is not relevant?
- Is the child having difficulty with the language of math, such as being confused in word problems?
- Does the child not know when irrelevant information is included or when information is given out of sequence, or does he or she have trouble learning or recalling abstract terms or understanding directions?
- Are there issues involving attention and focus? Does the child become distracted or fidgety during math tasks or lose his or her place while doing a math problem? Does he or she easily tire when doing math?
- Does the child get confused when there are multi steps to follow or have trouble ordering the steps in order to solve the problem?
- Does the child feel overwhelmed when looking at a worksheet full of math exercises? Is he or she able to copy problems correctly?
These are just some of the things parents should look out for when determining where a child is struggling the most regarding mathematics. They should also speak with teachers and school counselors to figure out the best and most appropriate path for their children.