The #1 Reason Your Student is/will Struggle With Math!


We talk to parents all the time who are at a loss.

Their student seems to be doing everything they can to succeed in their math classes, but they’re still barely making it. 

Every day is a struggle. Both you and the student may feel discouraged, frustrated, impatient, and stressed.

After being a math tutor for over 7 years in virtually every grade level, I have learned whether your student is in 5th grade learning about adding and subtracting negative numbers or in 11th grade solving Physics problems or figuring out the derivative of an equation in their Calculus class, the # 1 reason they are struggling is always the same.

Student’s are missing important mathematical concepts from earlier years to be successful in their classes. Over the years they developed gaps in understanding. 

Here are three steps to fix the issue!

Step 1:  Stop Doing What You Are Doing

Yep, you heard me.

Albert Einstein stated:

“The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome.” 

If your student is struggling in say, algebra, what is the first thing that people recommend?

…Re-take the class. Re-view the concepts. Re-read the chapter.

But what’s the common element in all those approaches?

You’re re-doing something that you already did.


Take a step back and take a different approach. The ones you have been taking are not working.

Step 2: Review Math Foundations  

“A building is only as solid as it’s foundation.”

Without a solid foundation, the building would eventually come falling.

Sure it may be able to make it several of years, but the moment a little earthquake occurred the building would not have the foundation to support it.

This same concept also applies to mathematics. 

Just like a building, math also requires a solid foundation.

And just like a building, your student could probably get by for years without having a strong foundation; however the moment things get tough everything would come falling down. (Stress, frustration, impatience, lack of motivation, etc.)  

Sound familiar? 

When a student doesn’t grasp a foundational math concept and then moves on to more challenging math, it creates a gap in understanding.

These gaps in understanding are like holes in a bucket of water and unfortunately won’t go away until fixed.

Math Progression Through 8th Grade


Many times you don’t know these gaps exist until it is too late. Like stated earlier, a student can get by for a long period of time before these gaps in understanding haunt them.

However, the moment the student starts to learn upper-level subjects in the medical, engineering, and business fields such as physics, chemistry, calculus, accounting, finance, etc. the student will feel overwhelmed, have to work 10x harder than everyone else, and will still have a difficult time retaining the information.

By the way, all those subjects result in HIGH PAYING JOBS!

The chart above demonstrates this “build-up” of math subjects across the different grade levels.

Notice how some subjects, like Geometry, start as early as K-2nd grade and continue to build all the way until 8th grade!

“Students who did not master these fundamentals in K-8th grade will continue to struggle with math, physics, chemistry, etc. in high school, college, and beyond!” – Laura Petersen, MAED

Step 3: Pinpoint & Fix Gaps In Understanding

Now that we understand the importance of these gaps in understanding, we need to find and troubleshoot those areas.

At Student-Tutor we will place the student on our adaptive math assessment that will pinpoint these gaps in understanding from previous years.

“I am surprised how often these assessment tests identify gaps in understanding when parents were under the impression that the issue was brand new.” – Cody Mack, Academic Advisor

Afterward, one of our background checked & trained math tutors work with the student to ensure those foundational core math concepts are mastered. 

After pinpointing and fixing the foundational math concepts, that many times you didn’t even know existed, your student will now have a solid foundation to tackle even the hardest of classes!

Present and future discouragement, frustration, impatience and stress ALL GONE! 🙂 

Here is a fun video I made to really drive the point home! 🙂

In Conclusion

The # 1 reason your student is struggling or will struggle with math related subjects is that they are missing important key concepts from earlier years that are needed to be successful now and in the future.

To fix this problem, follow our simple 3 step process.

  • Step 1: Stop doing what you are doing
  • Step 2: Review math foundations
  • Step 3: Pinpoint and fix the gaps in understanding

This will ensure ZERO gaps of understanding exist and eliminate present and/or future academic stress!

No math, physics, chemistry, accounting, finance, business, etc. class will be too hard to conquer ever again!

Was this article helpful in understanding why your student is having difficulty in math related subjects? 

Together let’s spark bright futures!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students eliminate academic stress, boost confidence, and reach their wildest dreams through college tips and digital age knowledge they are not teaching in school. I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. Currently, I am traveling across America delivering presentations, rock climbing, adventuring, and helping inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Let's become friends! Follow my journey via my YouTube Vlog for inspirational value added tips!

Comments 9

    1. Post

      Hello, Francis. I am not sure if I entirely understand your question, but I will do my best to answer it! Feel free to reply to this comment again if I don’t answer it in full.

      For second language students, I would suggest they ensure they have their reading fundamentals fully down. This includes high-frequency words, word recognition, phonics, spelling, oral vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Without strong reading fundamentals, math will continue to be difficult since they may not fully understand the questions being asked. Luckily, we also have adaptive assessment test that will also pinpoint these six different areas showing us what areas need to be mastered.

      Afterward, I would suggest the student takes an adaptive math assessment test to see where they currently stand. Perhaps they did not fully memorize their multiplication tables in third grade, or maybe they do not fully understand how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide negative numbers. After, seeing where they are having difficulty have their teacher, tutor, or use online resources to master those specific areas.

      As for parents, they are the navigators. Without being in the industry, it can be tough / near impossible to know all the ins and outs of what to do. The trick is finding someone else that has taken the time to learn all the ins and outs, has proven results and is someone you can trust to spark a brighter future for your student.

      Hope this answer helps! Let me know if you have any more!

  1. Thanks for sharing such an informative stuff. I hope it will be useful for students, teachers as well as parents and help them in finding some real solutions they are facing in maths. Keep posting.

    1. Post

      Thanks for the kinds words Lewis! Math doesn’t have to be a struggle, and the “limiting belief” that they are not good at math doesn’t have to be true. They just need to create a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) plan! I hope this article helps students, parents, and teachers do exactly that!

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