Giving Up (or how to help students stay on track)

       Perseverance, endurance, determination, grit – whatever you want to call it, it’s hard to learn, and it’s even harder to teach. Giving up isn’t something that we’re ever proud of doing, but it’s always tempting! We give up on diets when they don’t work; we give up on sports when we don’t score enough points; we give up on math when it gets too hard.

       Sadly, 7,000 American students drop out of high school every day. Without a complete high school education and diploma, these students start adulthood at a disadvantage. Many states, like Virginia, are in the process of changing requirements for graduation and most students have to pass Algebra I and one other course, like Geometry or Algebra II, to earn a diploma. Although the emphasis on standardized assessments is easing up, students feel the pass math and other core subjects while juggling full schedules and extracurricular activities.

       Most people learn best through analogies and prefer to tie learning into something that they already know. Algebra can be a particularly difficult subject for some students to comprehend because it involves using a system of logic that may feel removed from our reality. Many students decide early on that they’re bad at math. Others feel challenged by the weight of low confidence. When high school math class gets difficult and giving up feels like the easier option, remember that this is just one hurdle to overcome for a promising future.

       Here are five suggestions to help students stay on track and never give up:

  • Start Simple and Scale Up. If students are having a difficult time grasping concepts and demonstrating skills on homework, ask the teacher for simplified practice problems. By removing the ‘extra’ math and solving problems with only the core components, students may gain a clearer understanding of the process.
  • Buddy Up. For many struggling students, confidence is the missing piece. Older siblings, classmates, and parents can be strong allies to help students commit to finishing strong and taking the time to work out a solution. Even if you’re not a math expert, you can still be their support system at the table during homework time.
  • Smarter Practice Tools. Immersive, adaptive learning software, like IXL Math, can help students solve problems with digital guidance and gain extra practice. Most smart learning programs offer tracking systems to help students gauge learning progress over time, separate from their math class grade.
  • Build a Support Group. Working together in a small group is an effective homework help method. Collaborative learning allows students to reinforce ideas by teaching or explaining and ask questions in a more open setting. Make sure that the atmosphere is positive – “I don’t know how to do this yet!”
  • Get Professional Help. Individual online tutoring is more affordable and accessible than you might think. With a professional tutor, your child can get one-on-one homework help and have a certified expert on hand to explain difficult concepts. At Love Math Club, we believe in lifting both a student’s grade and confidence!