When a student starts to struggle in math, it means he or she is missing key math skills for the new material. In other words, by the time they need help, they are already behind.

They are trying to do high school math, and they just cannot learn the material.

They are trying to do high school math, and they just cannot learn the material.

Often, the first resource for a student is friends and family. First is usually other students. This is the easiest way to get help. Students that study in groups can usually make sense of the lesson. But what happens when this is not an option, or not working?

Often, the next resource is at home. The problem is that parents and siblings can only help so much. Some parents may do math differently, or not remember all the high school math, or not have enough time. Siblings may not have the expertise to teach a math lesson.

Often, the next resource is at home. The problem is that parents and siblings can only help so much. Some parents may do math differently, or not remember all the high school math, or not have enough time. Siblings may not have the expertise to teach a math lesson.

Many times there is extra help available at school. This can be helpful if the student understands the teacher and the student is not behind in math. The teacher can explain the lesson again, and the student will have a chance to learn the new material.

One problem is that most of the time, if a student is struggling, they are already behind. They have already tried to get help with friends and family, and it didn't work. Now, they are trying to get extra help from the teacher. If this does not work, it means that the student is behind in math.

Another problem is when the student has a hard time understanding the teacher. If the student gets help from the same teacher, it may not help, and it may even make the situation more frustrating.

One problem is that most of the time, if a student is struggling, they are already behind. They have already tried to get help with friends and family, and it didn't work. Now, they are trying to get extra help from the teacher. If this does not work, it means that the student is behind in math.

Another problem is when the student has a hard time understanding the teacher. If the student gets help from the same teacher, it may not help, and it may even make the situation more frustrating.

If a student is having trouble with the "steps", it means the problem is that the student does not understand what the steps mean. At this level of math, getting the answer is not enough. It is easy to forget "how to get the answer". But in high school, you have to remember what it all means because you need it for the next lessons, and for next years' classes.

Most of the times, the student is trying to do what the teacher did, but the student does not understand the reasons.

For Example:

Pre-Algebra and Algebra - you need to understand why numbers cancel, not just cross out numbers

Geometry - you need to understand that postulates are instructions, and that proofs are reasons

Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus - you need to understand the unit circle to know why Cos 0 = 1

If you cannot explain the reasons, it means you do not understand, and you will continue to have trouble.

Most of the times, the student is trying to do what the teacher did, but the student does not understand the reasons.

For Example:

Pre-Algebra and Algebra - you need to understand why numbers cancel, not just cross out numbers

Geometry - you need to understand that postulates are instructions, and that proofs are reasons

Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus - you need to understand the unit circle to know why Cos 0 = 1

If you cannot explain the reasons, it means you do not understand, and you will continue to have trouble.

If you can learn the reasons of the basics of high school math, then the next lessons will make sense. The sooner you understand the reasons, the sooner high school math starts to make sense.

Photo used under Creative Commons from quinn.anya