Getting smarter in math takes a combination of repetition, active studying and a positive attitude toward the subject. Many students develop a less-than-positive mindset about math when the work gets harder and learning gaps become more obvious. Math is a subject that continues to build on prior knowledge throughout a child’s school career, so getting the basics down and reviewing them as you go helps keep information fresh and skills strong.
Reviewing math basics and keeping math-facts fresh in the mind build confidence for learning new skills. Basic arithmetic facts -- addiction, subtraction, multiplication and division -- remain the same no matter how you use math. Keeping this skill polished helps students connect the dots in more complex math problems and makes computations fast, even without the use of a calculator. Practice math facts through computer games, flash cards and timed tests to keep your math-fact knowledge strong.
Mathematics often brings up negative feelings for students who struggle due to past math difficulties. According to Ohio State University mathematics professor Samuel Alexander, the use of the word “problem,” rather than “practice” or “exercise,” makes completing math work seem like a chore rather than a challenge. Changing the way you or your child thinks about math can go a long way to helping you feel smarter when faced with math challenges. Changing daily homework conversations from “How many problems do you have to do?” to “how many exercises" or "how much math practice” can improve a student’s attitude about the task at hand.
Studying for math tests or quizzes can be a challenge if you have difficulty in math. Knowing what to do during study time can help change study strategy from staring at math problems to actively preparing for math assessment. The University of Connecticut Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development suggests using multiple strategies for learning something new. Reciting formulas and processes, writing exercises down instead of simply looking at them, drawing diagrams and making up your own chapter or section review are all active ways of studying math.
Using the latest technology to help connect better with math is an effective way to become smarter in the subject. Mathematics computer games, internet math sites and mobile math apps are all ways in engage in mathematics in fun and visually-stimulating ways. The Makeuseof.com website, for instance, suggests using apps that offer memorization tips, math games, geometric shape drawing and memory strengthening exercises to improve math skills.
- Xamuel.com: Five Ways to be Better and Math
- Getting Smart: Khan Academy: Students Regain Confidence to Tackle Math Challenges
- Makeuseof.com: Get Smarter With Android: 5 Apps For Improving Memory, Math Skills, And More
- PBS Parents: When to Get a Math Tutor for Your Kids
- PBS Misunderstood Minds: Difficulties with Mathematics
- The University of Connecticut Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development: Study and Learning Strategies—Learn by Doing: Active Studying
- The Ohio State University Department of Mathematics: Samuel Alexander
About the Author
Patti Richards has been a writer since 1990. She writes children’s books and articles on parenting, women's health and education. Her credits include San Diego Family Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Boys' Quest Magazine and many others. Richards has a Bachelor of Science in English/secondary education from Welch College.