How To Become A Better Math Student (By Studying The Right Way)
Math can be a difficult subject for many students at every grade level. And to make things more challenging, studying math is much different than studying other subjects.
Unlike other subjects, students won’t get very far by simply reading their class notes or textbooks. Math is a hands-on subject, where learning comes from doing rather than reading.
So, how can your child become a better math student? It starts with knowing how to study math effectively.
To help, we’ve rounded up the best ways to study math so your child can improve his or her math skills (and grades), all while becoming a more confident student.
Ways Your Child Can Improve Math Skills (& Study More Effectively)
1. Start With Simple Questions
Just like anything, your child needs to start small before tackling more advanced concepts. Before mastering tougher math problems, your child should have a good handle on the basics. A solid foundation is especially important in math, where concepts and knowledge build upon themselves.
Have your child start with simpler math questions before moving on to advanced concepts. This will ensure that he or she has the basics down, while also providing a good confidence boost to take on those advanced questions when they come.
2. Do Practice Questions & Exercises
While comprehension is always better than memorization, math does require a bit of memorization. Students need to practice different types of questions again and again before getting comfortable with concepts and the equations used.
If your child is aiming to improve his or her math grades, start doing practice questions each night after school (even when he or she doesn’t have assigned homework). These can be from previous homework assignments and tests. Many textbooks will also have revision sections at the end of each chapter with practice questions to review what your child has been learning in class.
3. Create Practice Tests
Unlike other subjects, your child shouldn’t be simply reviewing his or her class notes. Instead, math study sessions should include working through examples and practice questions to help your child master the problem-solving process.
Creating practice tests is a great way for your child to study math more effectively. Round up all the previous practice questions your child has been studying and create a mock exam for him or her to complete. This will give your child a chance to tackle the types of questions that may be on an upcoming test so he or she can prepare for the real thing.
4. Understand The “Why”
While memorizing and remembering formulas is an important part of math, it’s also important to understand how those formulas work. Not every math question is the same, and there’s not always a one-size-fits-all answer. That’s why many students end up struggling with math.
Memorizing is only half of the equation—the other half is knowing how and why those formulas are used. When studying, help your child break down problems and decide how (and why) he or she should go about solving it. Ask your child to explain why he or she solved the question a particular why and how or she arrived at the answer.
5. Solve Problems Out Loud
Studying math involves sorting through a lot of information and following many different steps. It can be easy for students to get lost while thinking of these things, especially if they don’t have a strong grasp on math to begin with.
When studying, encourage your child to solve problems out loud, explaining what he or she is doing while working through the steps. This will help your child actively think through what he or she is doing, and identify which areas he or she needs further clarification on.
6. Write Out Each Step
When faced with a math problem, many children will try to figure it out in their head. But math problems can be complex, requiring students to organize information and work through multiple steps before coming to an answer. Trying to tackle everything at once is a recipe for confusion and frustration for many students.
Working through a problem by writing it down helps guide your child through each step of the problem-solving process. This strategy will become even more valuable as your child takes on more complex math problems, allowing him or her to work through problems in manageable chunks (rather than all at once). Writing out each step also gives your child a record to look back on, so if your child arrives at the wrong answer, he or she can go back to find the mistake and learn from it.
7. Complete Homework
Keeping up with homework is important for all subjects—but it’s especially important for math. Math builds upon itself, so if your child isn’t completing the homework, he or she won’t be prepared to move on to the next unit.
Set aside a time each night for your child to complete his or her math homework or tackle a few practice questions. Helping your child keep track of any assignments with an agenda or calendar is a good way to keep organized and ensure homework is being completed rather than forgotten.
8. Review Mistakes
One thing every successful math student has in common is that he or she learns from past mistakes. Math can be a difficult subject for many students to grasp, but the quickest way for your child to learn is to identify which areas cause struggles and which need more practice.
Help your child review previous assignments and tests to find out where marks were lost and identify questions that caused struggles. During your child’s next study sessions, focus on reviewing those areas most. Then, use similar questions to create a practice test that your child can tackle to prepare for his or her next exam.
9. Ask Questions
A question not asked is a learning opportunity lost. Understanding new math concepts can be difficult for many students—so make sure you let your child know he or she is not alone. Encourage your child to ask questions when they come up and to listen to questions that other students in the class are asking.
If your child isn’t comfortable asking questions in front of the class, help him or her schedule time with the teacher after class to review class material and answer anything he or she is unsure of.
Help Your Child Build Math Confidence
Getting good grades in math starts with building the proper study skills. By following these tips, your child can start studying math more effectively to become a stronger, more confident math student.
For more math help, check out these other resources:
11 Signs Your Child Is Struggling With Math (And How To Help)
5 Easy Ways To Make Math Fun
10 Math Tips To Prevent Falling Behind In Class