Back to the Starting Point

Elementary students running toward you

If you’ve identified that your child is struggling with a topic in mathematics, we suggest the following method to help your child and yield optimal results: Do not focus only on the problem at hand but instead review all fundamental concepts in math.

If your child has been taking perfect scores on the majority of the tests but struggles with a particular concept, you can focus on helping your child to fully understand and familiarize the questions. On the other hand, students who typically score around 70 to 80 points on tests encounter difficulty with a mathematical topic sooner or later. For instance, fractions, decimals, and ratios are areas in which student performance tends to drop. This usually occurs from the late third to fifth grade.

Many parents expect pinpoint support to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, in most cases, pinpoint support does not improve the child’s performance. Some parents do not want to recognize the fact that their child is not fully proficient in fundamental mathematical concepts. Some parents will blame tutors for lacking effective teaching skills.

It is not uncommon for fourth or fifth graders to lack proficiency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Some do not even have a grasp on number sense. Without a solid foundation in basic mathematical skills, introducing more nuanced concepts, such as fractions or decimals, does not produce good results.

In these cases, students need to go back to the starting point in order to ensure that their foundational skills are concrete. If a student is proficient in a certain concept (e.g. number sense), it only takes approximately one hour to review and verify their knowledge of that concept. If a student is struggling with a concept, it usually takes two to three weeks to build an understanding of the concept and gain solid proficiency.

We utilize our proprietary paper worksheets, which have a target completion time. Students practice, using the same worksheet over and over again until they can complete it with 100% accuracy within the target time.

Is it boring? Not quite! Initially, students try completing the assigned worksheet and are timed and scored. We continue tracking progress with another worksheet, and students are assigned additional practice for homework. After just a few days, many students come to love the process! They can see and feel their own improvement as they approach the target. This encourages them to practice more frequently and efficiently – focusing on their weaknesses – to reach their goal.

When students reach a goal that they initially think to be impossible, their faces fill with pride and confidence. They realize that they can become masters of a concept after only two or so weeks of practice. After applying this method across several topics, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, students have built a solid foundation and are more than happy to tackle new challenges, such as fractions and decimals. Students become confident that they will be able to understand and master new concepts within just a few weeks of practice.

Key outcomes of this process are:
1) Students gain mastery of the process and can apply it to new concepts going forward

2) A confidence boost for students

3) Immediate improvement in test scores

To conclude, we strongly suggest that you first solidify your child’s foundation in math and subsequently tackle difficult topics. It is best to recognize the problem early on and address it as soon as possible, but even if your child is older (i.e. fourth or fifth grade), it is never too late to catch up. Act quickly – don’t wait for things to get worse. Do not hesitate to review concepts that go back to the first or second grade, if necessary. A solid foundation will equip your child with the skills to take on the mathematical concepts ahead.