How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Math Help

How to Tell Your Teen Needs Math Help

While a failing grade might be the most obvious clue, high schoolers struggling with math often exhibit subtler signs that can go unnoticed. Identifying these hidden challenges early on is crucial for ensuring their confidence and academic success in math, which is increasingly important for various career paths.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Math Fluency

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by many students in math. School closures, disruptions to learning routines, and the shift to remote learning have all contributed to potential gaps in foundational skills and decreased math fluency, particularly among current middle and high schoolers, where foundational concepts might have been missed in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or “The Nation’s Report Card,” some two decades of progress have been wiped out.

This highlights the importance of being even more vigilant in identifying signs of struggle and providing targeted support to ensure your high schooler can navigate these additional hurdles on their path to math success.

Look for the Obvious Signs of Math Struggles

Here are some lesser-known signs that your teen might be facing difficulties in math, even if their grades seem satisfactory:

  • Selective participation: Pay attention to their engagement in class. While they might participate actively in other subjects, they might become withdrawn or disengaged during math discussions. This silence could indicate they hesitate to ask questions due to fear of appearing confused or being left behind.
  • Sudden reliance on calculators: Has your child become overly reliant on calculators, even for simple calculations? This could be a sign of difficulty with mental math skills, which are important for building a strong foundation in various mathematical concepts.
  • Increased homework struggles: While high school math generally involves more complex concepts, observe if homework has become a source of significant frustration or takes an unusually long time to complete. This could indicate difficulty grasping new material or needing additional practice applying learned concepts.

Look for the Invisible Signs of Math Struggles

Beyond the more obvious signs, some everyday behaviors might also indicate underlying difficulties in math specific to teen schoolers:

  • Difficulties with standardized tests: Standardized tests like the SAT or ACT often have a significant math component. If your child expresses anxiety or struggles disproportionately with the math section, it could be a sign of underlying math anxieties or gaps in foundational skills.
  • Challenges with real-world application: Does your child struggle to understand how math concepts are applied in real-life scenarios, like calculating finance charges on a credit card or interpreting data visualizations in news articles? This inability to connect math to the real world can be a sign of difficulty understanding the practical relevance of the subject.
  • Choice of elective courses: While not always the case, opting for electives that minimize math requirements might be a subconscious way for your child to avoid facing their challenges in the subject.

What to do About Your Teen’s Math Struggles

Remember, every student learns at their own pace. However, if you notice a consistent pattern of these signs, addressing them proactively is crucial.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one in five high school students report experiencing math anxiety.

Early intervention can significantly improve their math skills and confidence, whether through individual tutoring, online resources, or simply fostering a supportive home environment.

Here are some additional tips for helping your high schooler who might be struggling in math:

Open communication with teachers and counselors: Encourage your child to communicate with their teachers and counselors about their challenges. They can provide valuable guidance, resources, and strategies tailored to their specific needs.

  • Explore different learning styles: Some students benefit from visual aids, while others learn best through hands-on activities or group discussions. Explore and encourage learning strategies that best suit your child’s learning style.
  • Focus on fostering a growth mindset: Encourage your child to view challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. Celebrate their efforts and perseverance, not just perfect solutions.
  • Get professional help if needed: If you suspect your child might have an underlying learning disability, consult with a doctor or educational psychologist for proper diagnosis and support.

By recognizing these subtle signs and taking proactive steps, you can help your high schooler overcome their challenges in math and pave the way for a successful future, regardless of their chosen path.


Does your teen struggle with math? Does he or she have math anxiety? Is it affecting their confidence?

Math is a cumulative subject. Missing even one or two key concepts can make it impossible to understand new ones. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Consider our one-on-one math tutoring.

Then call us to discuss your child.

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How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Math Help
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