Declining performance at math tests, reluctance and forgetfulness when it comes to doing homework, poor attendance at math classes – all these signs indicate that your child has some problems with learning math, but there can be multiple sources of these problems and before you jump into any conclusions it is best to start from analyzing the situation carefully.
Blame It on the Teacher?
When the child’s performance is suddenly decreasing many parents are quick to assume that the teacher is at fault. Maybe the teacher is not motivating the children enough, maybe the math curriculum is not apt for all students etc. But before you start throwing the accusations it is best to start from finding proofs for your claims. Check the statistics – are all students at your child’s math classes performing worse than their peers taught by different teachers? Talk to the parents of the other children in the math class – did they also notice that their kids are doing worse at math? If you suspect that your assumptions are correct talk to the teacher about the problem and suggest other teaching methods, which could bring better results. Give the teacher some time to think about the problem and find good solution, do not expect immediate results. If you feel that the teacher does not want to cooperate and you have the support of other parents you can bring the matter to the principal’s attention.
Most often the child’s problems with math has less to do with the teacher and the teaching methods, but lie elsewhere. The performance of students, who are bullied at school often drops dramatically. If your child is doing worse also at other classes and show potential signs of being a victim of a bullying (sudden mood changes, insomnia, aversion towards school etc.) you should investigate the matter thoroughly. Start from talking to your child and take more decisive steps if you suspect there is something wrong going on. Sometimes bullying takes on much more subtle form of peer pressure: your child’s friends might perceive good performance at school not as something positive, but as a sign of weakness. It is much more difficult to recognize this type of negative influence, but if the drop in your child’s performance occurred at roughly the same time, when your child met new friends, it is a reason to be worried.
Facing the Learning Disabilities
Sometimes parents look hard for external causes of the child’s problems with math, but the origins of the issue lie deep within the child. Some learning disabilities, such as dyscalculia, are difficult to recognize for parents and teachers, who never experienced such problems before. Reading disorders, memory difficulties – all of these problems can affect your child’s math skills. If you suspect that your child is having learning difficulties contact a psychologist, who will be able to establish the source of the problem. Some minor problems, such as the inability to understand complex math problems and focus on studying math, can be solved by simply switching to a different math teaching method, for example the Singapore math technique known for its positive results when applied to teaching students with poor math performance.