What makes someone strong in math?
When struggling math students walk through our doors, we go deeper than just looking at their math worksheets and tests to understand why math is so challenging for them. We look at their personal foundation skills, especially in the key areas of attention, memory, visual processing, processing speed and reading comprehension. Examination of these core areas helps us put together the true reason they are having trouble with math. We know they can improve! How do these key cognitive skills drive math performance?
Your child might have the conceptual abilities for math. But without close attention to details, he or she can make many errors such as reading the operation sign (+, -, x, /) incorrectly or not adding columns that line up. Attention is our ability to focus and work through distractions. If attention is compromised, so will be the student’s opportunity to take new information in.
To use math skills efficiently, we must be able to do some mental math. This involves memory of basic math facts. As math becomes more complex, if we can’t remember what steps we have done to solve a problem, we can’t move forward with the problem in a timely way. Memory is the tool we use to absorb new learning, hold the information, and retrieve it at a later time.
Visual processing is our ability to perceive, analyze, and manipulate lines, shapes, and patterns. Math concepts are based on visualization, visual input, and visual processing.
Our ability to understand patterns and think of options is the core of logic and reasoning. Math is often about comparing, contrasting, thinking of options and solutions.
How fluid or efficient someone is with math problems relates to their processing speed. Can they get the steps done quickly or is the process long and laborious?
Even reading comprehension affects math. Students must follow directions in the correct sequence. Strong reading skills help with the dreaded story problems that can be quite tricky for many people. You can’t answer a story question correctly if you don’t understand the question being asked.
For you or your child to succeed in math, the foundation skills must be strong and consistent. If math is a concern for your family, we recommend testing at The Brain Trainer to determine the root cause of the difficulties. Students who are weak in math can make lasting improvements! We’ve seen great progress even in students for whom math has always been their worst subject.