People have to start from the ground, then first step, second, third and so on to reach their destination floor. Exactly the same way students have to start from Kindergarten, then grade one, grade two and three and so on to reach their math destination. Also, if some of the steps are broken in the staircase, it is still hard to reach the desired floor using those steps. Same way, if you are missing some of the basic concepts from elementary grades, math for you is still hard. Now, the kindergarten, first grade and second grade are like first couple of the steps of the stairs. You can learn this level of math easily, as you can jump enough to take yourself to second or third step of the stairs easily. As it is very hard to reach sixth or seventh step of a stairs by jumping from the ground, exactly the same way to learn grade five or higher grade math is very hard (or impossible) without having the good knowledge of the kindergarten to grade three or grade four math.
As a math tutor for 15 years, I have tutored hundreds of students from all the grade levels. I found most of the students were not comfortable with mathematics. More than 80% of them said, the mathematics is very hard. Why do most of the students find mathematics a hard subject and try to avoid it? The answer for the above question is hidden in a simple example. I always give the example of stairs to my students, and giving the same example in this article. I compare the steps of a staircase to the concepts in mathematics. As this is very hard to reach higher floors of a building without stairs (or elevators these days), same way learn higher concepts in mathematics without learning basic concepts is very hard.
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I believe in the importance of mathematics in our daily lives and it is critical that we nurture our kids with a proper math education. Mathematics involves pattern and structure; it is all about logic and calculation. Understanding of these math concepts are also needed in understanding science and technology. Learning math is quite difficult for most kids. As a matter of fact, it causes stress and anxiety to parents. How much stress our kids go through?
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So, what it takes to be smart in mathematics? My answer is; stay focused on math in each and every level of your studies. Participate in your class math practice sessions. Ask your teacher lots of questions until you are not clear about any concept. Mathematics is a subject of solving the problems on paper by hand rather than only to read them. As in case of Social Studies taking more readings make you smart, in math practicing lots of problems and solving them by hand makes you smart. To practice mathematics, math workbooks are the good source. You learn a concept in a workbook, then in the same booklet there are more problems on the same concept for practice. Another good method to practice mathematical concepts is using math worksheets and you can print math worksheets free of charge from the web.
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