In the past few years there have been more and more students needing special help with math. Not too long ago most of the help was given to students with reading problems. But now, math is taking over. And, it’s no longer just boys who need help in math or reading. Five years ago most of the students who needed help in school were boys, but now girls are appearing as frequently as boys.
Math seems to be a much more difficult fix than reading. In part this is due to the increased standards that are being imposed on students who are just not developmentally ready. But there is also a definite processing problem as far as math goes. Students can’t seem to understand the language of mathematics.
Here are the basic problems that are occurring in math:
1. Students can’t process more than one piece of information at a time.
2. Students are unable to process information sequentially.
3. Students can’t switch gears during multi-step problems. 4. Students lack a basic working knowledge of addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.
5. Students are not able to “think” through story problems.
6. Students make a large number of computational errors.
7. Students are unable to neatly organize a paper so that the correct answer can be achieved – for instance – lining up columns or spacing problems out on a page.
8. Students develop an actual fear of mathematics and freeze up when asked to perform math problems.
Math is a sequential, logical activity. The student must be able to access the left hemisphere of the brain in order to accurately perform math computations and problems. The right brain dominant student is at a severe disadvantage as far as math goes, but there are brain exercises that will show the student how to access the left hemisphere of the brain. These exercises are like magic, in that the once confused, unorganized student can now function in a logical, organized manner. The language of math makes sense. Computations can be performed accurately. The fear and anxiety can go away. Success can be found.
In addition to brain balancing exercises, the student can benefit from perceptual, spatial, and visual memory activities. Memorizing facts can often be a big chore for students, even though these very students are extremely intelligent. If a student has not mastered basic math facts, then higher level mathematics is nearly impossible. As the student stops to figure out a multiplication problem, he will lose his place in the entire process and get lost. Once this happens, not only has a lot of time been spent, but it is difficult for the student to find the correct answer.
In addition, math is a developmental process. When a student is ready to understand a mathematical concept, it is easy. It clicks. But when a student is not ready to understand a concept, it really doesn’t matter what you do to try to help the student. He simply is not yet ready for this concept. The new, highly difficult standards imposed by No Child Left Behind do not take this into consideration. All it takes is a review lesson of Piaget’s levels of development to understand this simple concept. If you leave this same kid alone for a few months and revisit the same skill, more times than not, the skill can easily be learned.
In math, there are no points for almost right. In reading a student can muddle through some words and still understand the basic concept. But math is black and white, right or wrong. There is no in between. Students need help to succeed in math. If you know of a student who is suffering from math problems, there are many things that can be done to help.