Top 5 Math Strategies for Struggling Students

Math class moves fast! After introducing a new concept, there is little time to master it before the teacher builds on it or moves to the next concept. Because of this, students who struggle may quickly fall behind. If your student is struggling, you need effective math strategies to help your child understand the concepts and master them. Check out these top 5 math strategies you can use.

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Math Strategies: Master the Basics First

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Before students can understand algebra, calculus, and other higher mathematics, it’s important that they have a strong math foundation. Can your student quickly tell you the sum of 7 + 8, or the product of 7 x 8? If not, it’s time to get out the flashcards and master these basics. Once your student has a strong grasp of the basic steps, you can throw in variables or calculate surface area.

Help Them Understand the Why

Struggling students need plenty of instruction. However, it’s important to find out how they learn and what they’re struggling to grasp.

In most cases, students excel by learning the reason behind the math concept. So one of the math strategies that can be effective is to teach them why a theorem works, or why the equation is done a certain way. It might be helpful to break things down and provide a step-by-step guide that students can refer to as they complete their homework.

Make It a Positive Experience

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When we struggle to understand things, it’s easy to give up on learning it. For math, struggling students will start to despise math, making it difficult to keep them motivated to learn and excel. Prevent this from happening by making the experience as positive as possible. Find ways to make it fun! And, stay encouraging through positive reinforcement.

Use Models and Learning Aids

Sometimes you have to see to believe. Or, you need to see to understand. When it comes to a difficult math topic, help visual learners through the use of models and learning aids. Manipulatives are a great tool for young learners too. For older students, allow them to use calculators, protractors, and other learning aids.

Encourage Thinking Out Loud

Learning how to think about a problem is an important step when solving math equations. As students work through an equation, encourage them to talk out loud. Describing the process is a great way to help students think through the process and discover areas that they might be struggling to understand still.

Finding the right math strategies for struggling students is important to prevent them from falling behind in math class. Try some of these math strategies with your student to figure out which ones will help him or her excel in math class this year and beyond.

FREE Math Video Lessons from Magoosh! Start here.


  • Jamie Goodwin

    Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

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