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27 Signs your child is struggling in math …and what to do about it!

Besides the below 27 signs below the #1 reason your student is struggling is typically always the same!

“I hate math!” “I just don’t get it!”

Parents who hear these words from their K-12th graders should be forewarned. Your child is struggling in math. And letting math struggles go on too long without intervening could lead to life-long difficulties in school, on college admissions exams, and beyond.

Here are 27 signs your K-12th grade child is struggling in math to look out for. Then below these signs I give you tips and tricks on how to help!

Make sure to check out our latest article “The # 1 reason your student is/will struggle in math!

27 Signs Your Child is Struggling in Math

Kids
1. Difficulty learning to count
2. Poor memory for numbers
3. Trouble recognizing printed numbers
4. Writes numbers backwards (e.g. 3 looks like ‘E’ and 2 looks like ‘S’)
5. Difficulty tying together the idea of a number (5) and how it exists in the world (5 cats, 5 dollars, 5 soccer balls)
6. Trouble organizing things in a logical way
7. Trouble with basic concepts of time (telling time, estimating time that has passed)
8. Struggles thinking abstractly with concepts like older/younger, bigger/smaller, before/after

Teens
9. Trouble with mental math
10. Difficulty estimating costs
11. Difficulty remembering basic math concepts and basic math facts
12. Difficulty learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts
13. Confused by rules and scoring systems for sports or games
14. Poor ability to budget, calculate a tip at a restaurant, or balance a checkbook
15. Trouble with concepts of time (e.g. sticking to a schedule or approximating time)
16. Difficulty finding different approaches to solving a problem

Any Age K-12th Grade
17. Reports “hating” math class
18. Gets upset or easily frustrated when working with numbers
19. Cannot follow the steps required to solve simple math problems
20. Insists he/she “cannot do it” without even trying to do it
21. Says math teacher does not teach or help (this may or may NOT be true, but still a sign of struggling)
22. Reluctance to do math homework
23. Anxious about math quizzes or tests
24. Says his/her “mind goes blank” on quizzes or tests
25. Hides report cards or says he/she did not get one
26. Caught cheating on an assignment or test
27. Wants to miss class or school

5 Tips on ‘How to help your K-12th Grader who is struggling in math’

There are many ways – free or paid – to help students struggling with math. Here are some ways to help get you started supporting your child!

1. Free Math Websites

43 Math Websites (alphabetical list of 43 free math websites)
Top 10 Free Math Websites (detailed overview of 10 great sites)

2. Free Tutoring

Talk with your child’s teacher, math department, counselors, and school administrators to learn about all the free after-school tutoring help available. Even if your child says “there is no one who can help me,” that may not be the case. Reach out and learn more.

Know any parent friends or peers of your child who is great at math? Maybe someone can help tutor for free or work with your child in a study group.

3. Get More Information

Reach out to your child’s math teacher and ask for specific ways he/she could work to improve. Some things could be classroom behavior related or ‘soft skills’ like organization, time management, or effective studying. The math teacher spends the most time working with your child in this realm and can offer great insights and support.

Or have you child take an assessment test to pinpoint specific areas of math he/she needs to strengthen. Knowing what skills are week is half the battle!

4. Look into potential learning disabilities

Have you ever heard of dyscalculia?

It is like dyslexia with numbers. It is a real diagnosis and I personally have worked with students who have it. They often struggle with mental math and simple math calculations even though they have mastered them in the past. Sometimes they report having a poor sense of direction, mixing up left and right, and fearing to work with money. If your child really struggles, this could be part of the reason. There is support and possible accommodations available.

5. Change Your Attitude! (Yes, you parents!) 🙂

If you hate math and are reluctant to do it, this will rub off on your kids whether or not you intend for it to. Take a moment to self-analyze your current ‘math attitude.’

Stop saying things like “some people are just bad at math,” “I never got it either,” and “just get through this class because you will never use it again.” Math is like being in shape; you have to work at it. Some people may need to workout longer or harder than others to get to the same level of fitness, but that does not mean some people can never get fit. Same with math! Encourage your kids to be willing to put in the work and see the improvement. Be willing to improve your own math a little to show them it is possible.

Speaking of which, brush up on your own math skills and vocabulary! Review easy-to-watch videos from our Top 10 Math Websites like the Khan Academy and Patrick JMT. You may just surprise yourself on what ‘comes back’ and finally clicks! You do not need to become an expert; a small increase in relevant vocabulary and math how-to can pay off greatly when working to help your child.

Bonus!

Remember Student-Tutor for any 1-on-1 tutoring needs. Amazing progress can be made when a child feels safe and secure to ask questions and take math risks with a tutor he/she has rapport with.

Know other warning signs or other good tips? Share with us in the comments below!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!

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Madhu simgh
Madhu simgh
3 years ago

my son is repeating 9 std this year too bcoz he is struggling in maths n science n cannot score basic maths ……studying maths is like everyday battle ….though he is taking personal tution at home.According to his tutor,his base is very weak …..where his teacher is working on to strengthen his base but then he is lacking to complete his maths portion…..

mart
mart
3 years ago

My daughter is in grade 10 (2016-2017); she used to have great grades in all the topics. However, she did not do well in Math in grade 10. She got 77 in Math which is not good at all compared to her grades in previous years. The key problem now is that she hates math, almost depressed (she’s not used to struggle in any subject), … What is your advice to overcome this issue?

Mary Ann
Mary Ann
3 years ago

My 15 year old son always had problems with math. I had hired a tutor for him when in 8th grade, but his grades still did not improve. He does have the signs of hating math, blaming the teacher and also starting his mind goes blank when faced with a test. He know his basic math well, but when it turns into Algebra and behind that he can’t handle it and gets frustrated. I have spoken with his teachers and counselors, but they tell me the same thing everytime, which is get a tutor, etc. As a parent, I am… Read more »

Ahmed
Ahmed
3 years ago

I am Dr Ahmed Elshebiny a lecturer at Menoufia faculty of Medicine and now working in KSA . My son is in grade 4 international education with a cambridge based curriculm started only in grade 4. In his last 3 years they used American curricula in the same school based on Go Math books. He is good in all subjects except math. This became more obvious in the evaluations of grade 4. The most astonishing is that he is good in the class and good in solving problems at home but bad in the test. He is not interested in… Read more »

Jay Robinson
Jay Robinson
3 years ago

My daughter is in the secknd grade and she is in private school. They are already on 3 times tables and they are doing division. I was great in math A B student however I am having a hard time trying to teach my daughter. It’s like she knows it but then she gets confused in school with classwork and right now i feel like I am letting her down. Please help any advise

ERIC
ERIC
3 years ago

hello I’m a college student, I’m struggling with maths I don’t even understand a thing . I’ve passed all my subject but I got 0% on maths this is really affecting my studies . it stresses me big time because so student are making fun of me that I cant even count numbers, for a minute I thought of dropping out. tried to get a tutor but still I cant even hear what he is saying….. I really need a serious help before its too late.

Ana Laura Martinez
Ana Laura Martinez
3 years ago

My daughter is in 2nd grade and she does well in assessments but when there are Test she has 70s instead of 90s-100s. I noticed that she’s still not sure on some addition and subtraction tactics and that she struggle understanding what they are asking for math problems, for example, she thinks “more” is always an addition. They also introduced money, time and measurements this year as well as multiplication and she is having problems with almost all of them. She does homework fine, little assessments are fine but big test she fails. What can I do to help her?… Read more »

Tee
Tee
3 years ago

My son is in 10th grade and is taking Algebra for the 2nd time; he is still struggling with it. He even receives tutoring services twice a week during his study block, which lasts 90 minutes. I’ve checked his grades online not long before writing this and his math grade is a 26. Report cards are coming out November 7th. I don’t know what else to do. He hated math since he was in elementary school. I found a note he had written back in elementary school that he hated math! It’s a shame because he adamantly hates it now.… Read more »

Saray Schofield
Saray Schofield
3 years ago

My son is in 11th grade and repeating geometry. Even with repeating the same concept that he saw last year, he is still struggling with it. He goes to tutoring after school with his teacher, but he just doesn’t get it. I fear that he has shot down an is no longer interested in learning it. I don’t know how to help him. He has always struggled with math, but since HS it has gotten worse.

Sherrie
Sherrie
4 years ago

My daughter is in the 5th grade and she’s struggling with math. I don’t know what to do to help she went from a 54 to a 63

Allison
Allison
4 years ago

Help, my son is 11 and can’t do simple math like 2+5 and 20-12. He gets frustrated and shuts down and/or cries, he does the same with his reading and spelling. What can I do to help him?

Andy
Andy
4 years ago

awesome post! I don’t have any children, but i believe i struggled and still do with math. I wish this study would have been around when i was in grade school. I grew up with a fear of handling money, and still have problems with concepts of before/after. Basic math on a good day is semi-good; but on a bad day i seriously sneak my calculator(cell phone) out for the waitress’s tip after dinner. i feel embarrassed every time. It’s only when i see someone else struggling with the same issue, when I’m actually ok with that handicap. Anywho, I… Read more »

asif
asif
4 years ago

An interesting read… what helped my child was At Study Cloud which is for most part a free resource… Check it out http://www.atstudycloud.co.uk

Shanaaz
Shanaaz
4 years ago

Hi my daughter failed matric, and now repeating , is still falling maths even with tuition, what to do

Laura Petersen
Laura Petersen
4 years ago
Reply to  Shanaaz

Hello, thank you for the comment! What do you mean with “even with tuition”? Do you mean that she is getting tutoring but still failing math? If that is the case, I really recommend talking with the tutor and setting up a plan that you can keep tabs on and make sure is being followed [or get a different tutor]. I would guess that many components are contributing to your daughter not doing well, including perhaps: – lack of confidence (maybe a feeling of ‘learned helplessness’ like nothing she does makes a difference) – lack of organization (many students have… Read more »

Cindy
Cindy
4 years ago

My daughter is in grade 10 academic classes and gets high 80-90 in all her classes except math which she has a 43. She tries and we have a tutor. She is so stressed out she cries and says its like reading a different language she just doesnt understand it. Why ?. Is there a testing we should get done. If so how do we get it? Please help

daughter needs help in math
daughter needs help in math
6 years ago

Great post! My daughter has been struggling in her algebra course a lot lately, and this is some great advice. Keep up the good work!

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