"I Was Good At Math Until": How to Tell if Your Student's Math Grades Will Get Worse

Math classes have a constant progression of skills – perhaps more so than any other subject. To succeed in a math class, it is almost guaranteed that you will need skills that were learned the previous year - book your private Irvine online math tutor today.

Math skills also tend to require high levels of mastery to be effective in the next classes. Unlike many other courses, it usually isn't enough to say "I remember some of that" or "I get the gist of it" to succeed. Teachers like to utilize memorable terms and acronyms to help students get through their class's material successfully. Things like "cross-multiply," "FOIL," and "low dee high minus high dee low" are prevalent in math. These can be helpful to reinforce known skills, but too often the memorization is used as a crutch to get through the problems temporarily without mastery.

If this short-term memorization remains the predominant tactic for getting through math class, then the student will have much more difficulty further down the road.

Students do not need to have a thorough understanding of everything you learn in each math class (there is plenty of supplementary and even extraneous material tacked on in nearly every K-12 class), but they do need to have a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals to make successful progress in the future and prevent the "falling off" at a certain math class. How many times have you heard a student or adult say they were good at math, until.

It could be "I was good at math until negative numbers" or "I could do math until they started using letters with the numbers" or "I was in honors classes until we got to trigonometry" or "I never got a C in math until Calculus." The "untils" are more commonly heard about math classes than any other subject.

These until classes are usually the result of not mastering the fundamentals of the subject. Often this is because short-term memorization was relied on in a previous class. Sometimes, however, it can be intrinsic to the class itself where there is a rapid progression of skills consolidated into a single class. Every student and every case is different, but there are some common themes involved before a student starts to suddenly do poorly in math. As such, it is often possible to predict (and then prevent) when a student will really start to struggle with a math class before it happens.

Here are some warning signs that your student may be beginning to struggle with math and be reaching their own until class:

1. Gradually Declining Grades

This could be your straight-A student starting to get B's, your "B" student getting more "C's" or your honors students now being recommended for regular classes. If you see your student continually declining in math, likely, the problem will only get worse without intervention. Since concepts in math tend to stack and follow a progression, this is one of the clearest signs that your student will start to do poorly in math soon.

Stay tuned for part two!

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test online tutor with TutorNerd in Irvine and Anaheim.