Why is my child struggling with Math? (Part 2)

Let’s keep up with tradition shall we, Breathe! Remember, you are not alone and if you haven’t done so already read the first article in the series.


Now let’s examine the second big reason for why your child might be struggling at Math, speed. Before we look into solutions lets spare a thought for the poor Math teacher, she has between 20-40 unique children in her class and is tasked with the impossible, getting them all through the prescribed syllabus. With this settings, (i) its highly unlikely that all the children have mastered all the topics they were supposed to (ii) it in equally unlikely that all of them will keep to a preset pace. Is it any wonder at all that your child is struggling?


Everything in math is linked to the other. I remember when I first started conducting personalised classes I realised that the reason a student of mine wasn’t able to solve the 9th grade algebra problems was that he had not mastered LCM, something he should have learned 3 years ago.


Personalisation is the rejection of the assumptions teachers (and parents) make and adapting the the learning to the needs to the children vs forcing them to adapt to some arbitrary standard. Before we get started on this journey of personalisation though, we have to first start by fixing our mindset.


Carol Dweck, in his book Mindset talked about the growth mindset, i.e. the belief that our brains are malleable and that if we apply effort we can learn and mold them to our purpose. If we have a growth mindset, you would say “Ok so let’s find out where he is struggling and work together with him to fix it”, instead of “my son is in the 5th grade but can’t solve 3rd grade problems”. Optimism and not despair.


With a growth mindset we can allow ourselves we can now begin to personalise. Here are the steps:

  1. Diagnose: First we have to figure out what are the concepts our child has mastered. This is the starting point. We have to look at the data dispassionately and use it to guide our next step (for a faster diagnosis look to Immerz)
  2. One step at a time: Now that we know what are the holes in his learning we can start plugging them one by one. Every day just focus on getting your child better than he was the day before. Ideally you’d want to use a learning tool that helps your child grasp the concepts intuitively as described in first part
  3. Make it a habit: Warren Buffet credits a lot of his success to compound interest. That means just getting better, even if it is by a small increment, but getting better everyday.

As you will notice most of these steps are to be walked by your child, you have to be the believer in his ability to get better till it becomes a habit.


Sounds like a lot of work? Well, if I could do it for my class of 30 students, you have to believe you can do it for one. And yes, the student who I mentioned didnt know LCM in grade 9 went on to get a distinction (equivalent of A+) in Math in his board exams (equivalent of SATs).


We just have to believe in their abilities.


Happy learning!

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