The importance of math and ways to support a child facing challenges with Math in Secondary school
If you think parents get shocked when their child starts failing math in secondary school yet he or she was doing great in primary, imagine how greater the shock is for the child. Children tend to assume they will have the same level of success they have had since they started school. Why would a child think differently, if doing well in math came naturally during primary school? The shock of failure is worse on a child who never had to put in much effort to solve math problems. All it may take is one failure for a child to give up hope on a subject he truly loved and believed himself good at. Unfortunately, the situation is made worse by parents who equally do not understand this sudden drop in performance. Like the child, they too believed passing math came naturally for him or her.
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On pbs.org, Diana Goldberg discusses in detail the importance of parental support to a child facing challenges in Math.
Math in secondary school is about concepts and processes, not solutions
“As parents, we sometimes forget how confusing, frustrating and difficult secondary school can be, and for some kids, math is especially confusing, frustrating and difficult. Being a secondary school math teacher, I hear from many parents who want to help their children but aren’t sure how. Whether you identify with the Carla*, a mother who helps her son too much because she’s eager for him to get good grades….” Read more here
It is natural for a child to expect life to progress in a certain way. They know when they reach a certain age, they will leave kindergarten for primary school. After a couple of years, they will go to secondary school. This is the way life is and they do not expect any changes. They view math in pretty much the same context. Solving equations without putting in much thought to the process. Unfortunately, secondary school math requires them to delve deeper into the process. They are required to understand why the answer is x and not y. Some children exude the same confidence they had in primary school math.
In this article by GreatSchools Staff, importance of algebra is discussed in detail.
A change in mindset is vital
“Becoming an algebra expert opens the doors to some of today’s most trendy (and well-paid) careers. From computer science to medicine, algebra serves as a foundational skill. Understanding algebra also puts students on track for college success, no matter what major they choose. Here’s how you can make sure your children develop the algebra skills they need to succeed.” Read more here
“Secondary school math is hard!” This is the explanation any child failing math in secondary school has when asked why there is a sudden drop in their performance. If this shift in mindset is not addressed and the focus remains on the performance, this child will continue to fail no matter what. This is because the mind is a very powerful. It either allows the child to make the effort or not. The belief that it is impossible to pass math in secondary school diminishes the potential of the child to understand it.
Math Scholars published this article where they discuss how parents can help students pass math in secondary school.
How the introduction of math to secondary school influences the performance of students
“Just about 5 months ago, I received a text from a father of a Secondary 2 boy…He wrote in because he had read our blog post about how some kids seemed to score well in Primary school, but strangely, not in Secondary school – and vice versa. He wanted to know why, and if possible… how he could help his son. His son had scored an A for PSLE math. But for some reason…” Read more here
Many children get shocked by the sudden shift in how things are done because they are not prepared for it. Math, the subject, needs to be introduced to children. This is one way of changing the children’s mindset. They will have a clue of what is expected from them. More importantly, they will understand that the foundation set is Secondary 1 will help them progress smoothly through their other classes in secondary school.
Change is not easy on anyone, especially children. It takes time and effort for them to adjust to the way math is done in secondary school. They require support from the start. Evaluating their performance will help find solutions early enough. Once the foundation is solid, any challenges faced later will easily be overcome.