Rescue Your Teen’s Math with These 3 Steps

Boom! You’ve just come to the sudden realization that your teen is struggling with math! Whether they’re 13 or 17, the consequences of weak math skills are real. As a parent it’s natural to go into panic mode and blame yourself, then blame your teen, then blame yourself, but DON’T! Watch the video below to see the 3 steps you can take to save your teen’s math today. The transcript of the video is below:

Hello, I’m Caroline from Maths Insider and today I want to talk about teen math problems. So just last month I was speaking to a parent and she said, “How can my child, be 13 years old and he doesn’t know how to do long division!”

Podcast Thumbnails for Blog

There are three reasons why your child probably can’t do long division:

 1)Maybe he can, but just can’t when you are standing right over him growling, “what’s going on!” that he can’t do long division.

2) It could be that he can do long division but he’s just forgotten a step so he’s messing everything up, messing up a whole question.

And 3) maybe he just doesn’t know long division, maybe he was away from school that day, or maybe the teacher went through it really quickly that week when they were doing it a few months ago, or maybe he just really didn’t get it and he’s too shy to ask and it didn’t caught in the school report and the teacher didn’t tell you.

So what’s a parent to do when their teen has problems with math?

Well, don’t make a huge thing about it. The thing about teenagers is that they need you, but they don’t need you. And so the worst thing you can do is to make a huge thing out of it, and make into “Oh! You can’t do long division and your room is a mess and look at those clothes that you wear.” It’s so tempting as a parent, (I’ve got two teens of my own) to just unload everything in one go. So just don’t do that!

Come up with a plan to deal with that particular issue, the long division. But actually don’t make it into big huge deal. Make it seem as though it’s a plan that they’ve actually come up with and just be calm about it and say, “Okay you can’t do the long division, let’s figure out a way to tackle this.”

The next step is to actually figure out why can’t they do long division. What is it about long division that they cannot do? There are so many elements even in one simple long division question, so really in long division the student needs to know:

  • their times tables
  • subtraction facts,
  • how to do subtraction with borrowing or a method for two digits subtraction,
  • how to line up their numbers correctly whichever method they’re using.
  • be able to read their own writing so that the numbers appear clear, so that they are not making mistakes because they can’t read their own writing.
  • whichever algorithm they’ve been taught, “Do this and then do that, do this and then do that for do long division,

……… exactly which steps of long division is causing them the problem?

If their times tables is not fluent and they are taking ages to figure out how many 8’s are their in 64 –  tackle that issue first – just deal with the times tables.

Fixing the math

Your teen probably thinks, “Oh my gosh, I do not want to deal with this. It doesn’t matter!” but actually say “Look! It is important,here’s a times tables app” or “Here’s a times tables list you can just keep with you, I’ll test you in the car tomorrow on  a particular times table.”

Make it really casual but deal with it because that’s really important! If they’re struggling with subtraction – make sure that they are clear on how to do it.

With my own teenagers, I often just find a video on YouTube and send it to them and say “Hey look! There’s a video on this topic which might be useful!” and then check to see if they’ve watch it, check to see if they understood it. Perhaps find one on subtraction with borrowing, and maybe a step-by-step video on how to do long division.

Let them feel as though it’s not something that you’re setting and teaching them how to do. Let them feel they are accessing the knowledge themselves.

Maths Insider Secrets

In the Maths Insider secret program, I go through and show you step by step how to figure out what are the gaps in your child’s knowledge and I show you the exact free websites that you can use to figure out what those gaps are and develop a plan to fill in those gaps.

Click here for more info on the Maths Insider Secret Program

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider