SCARSDALE, N.Y. – With the first semester winding down in school, now is a good time to assess your child’s math performance. If he or she is showing signs of struggling, the instructors at Mathnasium in Scarsdale can help turn things around.
Larry Martinek, the chief instructional officer of Mathnasium, says there are six signs to monitor in your child to see if they might be falling behind in math. (See the attached PDF). Among the most critical developments are missing key milestones and a child’s self-esteem.
“Milestones might seem like the most mundane thing,’’ Martinek said. “If the child can answer simple addition questions, they’ll be OK. If they start looking at their hands, then that is diametrically opposed to knowing facts.”
Martinek said addition and subtraction facts should be mastered by the end of third grade, multiplication by the end of fourth grade and fractions by the end of sixth grade.
One tipoff to a child’s math difficulties might be his or her self-esteem. “The cumulative effect of not having their numerical fluency takes a hit on their self-esteem,’’ Martinek said. “That starts a pattern of falling behind in keeping pace with the math curriculum. They emotionally give up. When they go to middle school and don’t have those skills, then the instruction takes a lot of time to catch up.”
Martinek said the average 7th grade student is 1-3 years behind grade level. He said a study found United States students ranked third in the world when they were in fourth grade. Four years later, according to the same study, U.S. students dropped to 26th.
“Many students will get by on memorizing,’’ Martinek said. “But that catches up with them in middle school. Many times schools have not covered the ground in computational skills, reasoning and problem solving skills.”
Martinek said as math becomes more difficult, a student’s deficiencies become more problematic. “You can get by memorizing without digesting the logic for a while,’’ he said. “But a lot of that comes back to haunt them in algebra and geometry.”
The solution, Martinek said, is to identify early when a student begins to struggle. The earlier a parent can get intervention for their child, the more swiftly they will find math easier to understand. “The sooner you deal with the problem, the better off you’ll be,’’ he said. “It becomes much more difficult as the years pass.”
There are several options for parents, including extra help from teachers and supplemental assistance from outside resources, such as Mathnasium. “If you can catch it, and deal with it early, that’s the best thing to do. A lot of parents let it ride. Kids learn in different ways. You have to present it in a way that makes sense to them. We have plan A — we also have a plan B, C and D. Something will eventually work.”
With holidays, kids transitioning their outside activities and fractured schedules, math progress is particularly vulnerable in December. “After New Year’s, when the first semester ends, we see a huge surge in interest in our programs,’’ Martinek said. “Now is the better time to come in. We can be a significant help. The thing to remember is if a kid is one or two years behind, it takes time to get caught up. The problem wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t go away overnight.”
The Scarsdale location is open Monday through Thursday from 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m to 1:30 p.m. Shane Bland is the Mathnasium center director in Scarsdale. For more information, visit their website or call them at 914-725-6284.
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