MOST OF THE CHILDREN IN YOUR CHILD’S CLASS will only be studying maths at an Elementary Level when they reach Year 12.
Research shows that by the time they reach Year 12, less than one third of Australian school students study Maths at Intermediate or Advanced levels – and the numbers have been getting worse each year.
Let me explain why so many children who do well in Maths and Science subjects in Primary School and Junior High School cannot keep up by the time they reach Grade 10 or Grade 11 – and so are forced to drop back to the most basic Maths course, and often drop out of Science courses altogether.
They Can’t or Don’t Read the Textbooks
The words in the Maths and Science textbooks are just as important as the numbers but most students rarely read the explanations contained in the books because they find the text in the books very difficult to comprehend. Instead, they are forced to rely on learning by listening to their teachers, or more commonly, by just learning procedures off-by-heart without detailed understanding.
Comprehension of textbooks can be difficult for three main reasons:
- The Reading Age required to read the textbooks is higher than the level of basic reading skills that most students have in High School. Without good training in basic reading skills, even average readers in Senior High School will find comprehension difficult – and so find reading difficult, very time consuming – and stressful.
- The concepts contained in Maths and Science are complex so good analytical skills are required to comprehend them. These advanced reading and study skills are rarely taught explicitly in High School. To succeed at Year 12 level:
- students need to know how to build a good technical vocabulary,
- they need to be skilled at breaking ideas down into simple parts, and
- they need to understand how all those parts are related when they are put back together.
- Most current textbooks are hard to read because:
- key words are often poorly defined,
- the examples provided are too complicated to act as memory aids,
- the working shown in examples often has steps missed out so it is hard to follow,
- the information is not always presented in a logical fashion so it is difficult for average readers to get an overall picture of a topic,
- and so on.
You can easily assess how a student is managing with reading and learning from textbooks:
- Pick a chapter in the textbook that was studied in the last month and get the student to read a few sections aloud to you.
- Get the student to attempt to define the key technical words in the section without referring to the book.
- Get the student to explain the sections to you without referring to the book. The student should be able to explain the content in clear English that a grandparent would understand.
The Hidden Problem – Many Students Rely Too Heavily on Visual Memory
Many students view learning information in Maths and Science as a process of memorisation of patterns which they learn in a visual way by copying the procedures used in the examples in their textbooks. Unfortunately this is a very inefficient way to learn because even simple procedures are hard to remember for the long term.
Long-term learning is particularly critical in Maths and Science subjects because the work done in Years 11 and 12 relies heavily on virtually all of the skills and information learned in the previous 5 years. For example, accurate addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions, algebraic fractions, decimals and percentages is required right through High School and University.
You will be able to get an idea of how High School students are faring with long-term learning by testing these basic mathematical operations using numbers such as: 13/18, 10/17, 3x/7, x/3, 0.37, 5.23, 58%.
A student who does not score of 100% on your test is likely to experience difficulties in the future because of long-term memory problems.
Act Sooner Rather Than Later
If you or your child are struggling to learn Maths or Science it is best to do something about it as soon as possible – every day that goes by when learning in inefficient ways is another day that needs to be caught up.
Get started immediately by downloading our free study handbook ‘7 Ways You Can Help Your Child Overcome Homework & Study Problems’ here: www.highperformancelearning.com/free-e-book-sign-up/
If you would like to discuss how to find a solution to your child’s specific problems then you can organise to have a free 15-minute consultation with us by clicking here: www.highperformancelearning.com/free-15-minute-consultation/
High Performance Learning
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