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News from Mathnasium of Red Deer

Five common reasons why students are behind in math

May 6, 2022

Positive attitude towards learning in general and in math in particular, is the key factor for success. Here is another mathlete with a 100% score on his Mastery Check! This student is always excited about challenges and is eager to be pushed outside his comfort zone. 


It is very common to label math as a difficult subject, and some parents accept it as is; they are more understanding if their child is bad at math compared to other subjects.

But is it true that these students are behind because math is hard? Well, actually there are many reasons – but let’s start with the five most common ones.


Negative Mindset

Some kids grew up believing “because my parents/my mom/my dad struggled with math at school,  it’s ok if I hate math too” So be mindful of what messages you are sending to your child; always try to plant growth mindset in their mind.

Some teenagers, believe it or not, don’t want to be good at math because then they would be perceived as nerds and not cool.

Positive attitude towards learning in general and in math in particular, is the key factor for success. The student’s internal motivation is the most important thing; parents, teachers and other educational supports like tutoring programs, however good they are, would go futile without the student’s own willingness to put effort to reach their goals. Positive people are also more resilient; they preserve and bounce back despite setbacks.


Not-so-great Teaching Method

“Practice makes perfect” is only true if the way you practice is correct. The best way to teach math is teaching them for understanding. Our founder, Larry Martinek, always says “It’s pretty easy to forget things you memorize and near impossible to forget things you understand”. With not-so-great teaching methods, students will think math is just about equations, formulas, computations or algorithms, not about understanding. With right math instructions, students will grow their critical ability to learn and think logically – in math and beyond the classroom.


Lack of Strong Foundation

Math learning is like building a house, brick by brick. If you miss grasping one important concept, you’ll have difficulties in building the next level. The missing items will accumulate over time, and if you don’t do anything about it and just hope your child will eventually “get there” – you may put their future at risk. Take action as soon as you see your child is struggling. The sooner it is addressed, the easier it is to properly teach the concept and to eliminate any bad habits.


Lack of Confidence

Many kids have potential, but they are unable to handle peer pressure. For whatever reason, they compare themselves with other students and may feel discouraged when doing so. They feel however hard they work, they won’t catch up with the rest of the class. They forget to see their own progress and appreciate their own improvement, because they always compare themselves with others.

Good teachers or tutors, through personalized assessment and interaction, could see the strengths and weaknesses of a student’s ability, and can work from the student’s strengths to build their confidence, while working on their weaknesses.


Lack of focus

Some students have difficulties in keeping their attention throughout the math lesson. They may converse with others, doodle, or let their mind wander elsewhere.  

Using different learning aids, or manipulatives, could help. In a more personalized setting, a tutor can adjust the material to keep the student focused. Many kids find long addition, multiplication or division problems tedious so they tend to lose focus easily; a tutor can switch to a material that the student finds more interesting, or let the student only works on a few questions before switching.

In addition to that, taking a break by playing math games also can change their mood and become more energized.


All of these factors are connected to each other. If your child shows any sign of the above, it is time to take action. Try to understand what the real problem is, and work around it.



Mathnasium of Red Deer is your neighbourhood’s math-only learning centre, and we are here to help your child. Our centre director, Riwan, and the whole team, would be happy to meet you! We are conveniently located in the shopping destination area in Red Deer: 5250 22nd St, Unit 30 B – at the Gaetz Avenue Crossing shopping centre, in the same area as Chapters Indigo/Starbucks, Michael Arts, Petland and Ashley, and the phone number is 403-872 MATH (6284). 

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