# Different Ways Students Struggle in Math

Jan 23, 2023First and foremost, if you are reading this because your child is struggling in math listen closely: *You are not alone and you are NOT a bad parent. *Unfortunately, while we do our very best, our educational system is simply not structured to teach an infinitely diverse generation of human beings in the way that best suits their personalities, learning styles, and socioeconomic status. Pair that with the drastic effects on learning inflicted by the COVID-19 Pandemic and you will soon see that it is indeed more common for students to have difficulty with math than not. In fact, according to the brand-new test results from 2022 finally released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only “Thirty-six percent of fourth graders performed at or above NAEP *Proficient *in 2022,” a statistic that can be found under their article headline that reads, *Largest Score Declines in Mathematics at Grades 4 and 8 Since Initial Assessments in 1990.*

So, no… you are not alone, and like so many other parents you may be asking yourself, “How can I help my child with math?” We think the first step is determining the *source ***of the struggle**.

**Struggle: Slower Learning Pace**

Ask any teacher and they will tell you that there is never enough instructional time to properly teach a lesson and never enough school days to cover the amount of material they are supposed to in a year. Most math classrooms are fast paced out of necessity, and many students just need more *time*. It's not that they *can’t* learn and keep up, they just may need to see *more* examples, be guided through *more* extra practice problems and complete *more *problems independently to cement the knowledge of the skill.

**How You Can Help:**

As your student is working through the problems that are directly from their textbook, workbook, or class work, observe them as they complete it and **CHECK** **over it**. If they are able to complete the work independently and get the answers right, then they do not need extra practice. If not, then help them work the problems correctly and then give them extra similar problems to solve on their own. All you have to do is take the problems on their homework and rewrite them on a piece of notebook paper changing up the numbers a little. Again, just a few practice problems like this each day can make a big difference! (Do you need help understanding their homework? Check out our FREE Grade Level Guides and other resources.)

**Struggle: Missing Prior Knowledge of Corresponding Skill in the Previous Grade Level**

It is no secret that the concepts students learn in math build upon each from one year to the next. In our opinion there is no more obvious evidence of this than in grades 3rd-6th and one of the reasons we chose to focus our research, free resources and products on these grade levels. Many times, a student may have difficulty with a specific concept in 5th grade because they never understood the corresponding concept in 4th grade leaving them frustrated and feeling stupid and asking themselves, “Did I miss something?” or “What did I miss?”

**How You Can Help:**

If your student seems to be totally lost in their current math chapter or unit, it may be worth looking at the correlating skill in the previous grade level and helping them work through some of those practice problems. Again, we’ve got you covered in this area with guidance and practice problems in all skill areas for grades 3rd - 6th in our FREE Grade Level Guides.

Just take a look at the **progression of the four main operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from 3rd - 6th grade** and you can see how if a skill isn’t mastered in one grade level it can **cause problems and negatively affect their success in math in the next grade**.

**Adding and subtracting multi digit numbers**: In 3rd grade students learn to add and subtract numbers within 1,000 with regrouping then progress in fourth grade to doing the same but leveled up to numbers within 1,000,000. In 5th and 6th grade this same principle is applied with adding and subtracting decimals.

**Multiplication: Multiplication begins in 3rd grade with multiplying single digit numbers and developing quick recall of those multiplication facts. Then in 4th grade students move on to multiplying a multi-digit number by a single-digit number and also multiplying two double-digit numbers together. 6th graders multiply two multi-digit whole numbers together and also apply this concept to multiply decimals which is seen again in 6th grade.****Division: The progression of division looks very similar to that of multiplication with students working on division problems that are the “cousins” of the multiplication facts they have learned and hopefully laying a strong foundation of those fact families for numbers 0-12. Next, those infamous long division problems are taught in 4th grade but limited to only dividing with a one-digit divisor. In 5th grade students divide whole numbers with a 2-digit divisor and extend the concept to include dividing decimals. 6th graders are expected to solve division problems with a 3-digit divisor and also apply long division to convert fractions to decimals.**

**Struggle: Math Disability (SLD - Math)**

Some students may require more than a little extra guidance and practice or reteaching of a skill because despite their (and your) best efforts, they keep falling further and further behind. Students with a math disability, (many times referred to as a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in Math) can have difficulty remembering math facts, executing a series of steps required to solve problems, and difficulty recognizing and remembering number patterns just to name a few common characteristics.

**What You Can Do to Help:**

If your student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that includes special education services in math, make sure they have appropriate accommodations written into their IEP such as the ability to use a calculator or have a multiplication chart on their desk if needed. For a complete list of accommodations and supports contact your student’s special education teacher. If your child does not have an IEP and you suspect they may have a learning disability, contact your child’s teacher and request an evaluation for special education services to further explore options. Also be sure to check out Math Tips and Strategies for Students with IEPs.

Whatever type of challenges your student may be experiencing in math, the first step is figuring out the root of the problem and understanding how to help them. We hope that this article and the resources we have available has helped you to take a big step forward in doing that. We are working hard every day to develop more guides and courses to continue to support you and your student on this journey. You are not alone. You've got this!

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