No matter how great a student is at math, it is the kind of subject that can occasionally get frustrating, especially with middle school math word problems.
Even if they have a helpful teacher, they may need extra resources and help with middle school math topics that are tricky to remember.
However, questions are difficult for a reason. The harder they are, the more thought-provoking they are, and the more one thinks, the more they learn!
If it were meant to be easy, there would be no point in adding the middle school mathematics curriculum.
Studies show that students in America struggle with math subjects in general. The US was rated 31 out of 79 countries in terms of math literacy.
Middle school math class should be challenging and should keep you on your toes to learn more efficiently.
The satisfaction a student gets after getting the correct answer is incomparable, and the frustration can be worth it.
In the end, the student will get a clearer idea of the concept and come up with possibly brilliant ideas.
Let's discuss a few ways in which you can deal with middle school math problems as well as the frustration of not getting it right the first few times:
Strategies To Help Middle-Schoolers Stuck On A Math Problem
There are several ways to tackle middle school math if you get stuck, such as:
Don't Wait Around, Do Something!
It's almost guaranteed that students would come across a complicated question during math class, one they have no idea how to solve.
Well, that shouldn't mean that you sit there are not do anything. You have to start trying different tactics to solve the problem! It is okay if they do not work and you feel like you've wasted your effort.
However, one of your attempts may ignite inspiration and indicate if you are in the right direction. Even if that does not happen, the effort you are putting in will help prepare your brain when the right idea does come along.
Try Simplifying The Problem
There are always ways to simplify the problem at hand. One way is to try special cases and smaller numbers.
You can also try adding restrictions or removing them. Start small and raise the stakes once you figure out how to tackle the simplified version of the math problem.
Think Back To The Times You Were Successful
Do not lose faith; you know that you have solved a lot of math problems before. Indeed, there were also harder ones in the mix, such as middle school math word problems.
Think back to how you did it. Start by going back to a similar problem as the one you are currently dealing with. After that, focus on those that do not have anything to do with the current problem.
Try to recall the strategies that helped you solve the earlier problems. This method of retracing your steps will land you with your solution in a matter of time.
Focus On The Parts You Have Not Used As Yet
Problems in math, especially geometry problems, are made up using several different ideas. The best way to tackle this is by:
- Looking at the problem
- Focus on the discoveries you have made
- After that, think about the parts you have not used constructively
- Once you have understood that, you will have a better chance of getting closer to the answer
This technique can be beneficial if you want to find out proofs. In this case, you will not start working with what you know to get to where you want.
Instead, you will be starting with the answer you want and work towards how you can get there. Much like reverse engineering, working backward can help you understand the origins of an idea.
Do Not Wait Till The Last Minute
This is not precisely valid for timed tests, but if you have an assignment that you have to work on, it is essential to start as soon as possible.
Waiting till the last minute can be detrimental in such cases – as working on a complex problem is stressful enough – but having the added time pressure may make it nearly impossible to solve.
Furthermore, you may think some students are brilliant because they answer quickly. However, those are primarily people who have thought through the issues for a longer time than you may have.
Working ahead and taking your time with math problems is the key to understanding more complex concepts. And this advice applies to areas of life other than math!
Take A Break
If you stare at a complicated math problem for too long, it will take a toll on your brain. That is why it is essential to take a break and divert your mind from the issue for some time.
Once you return, you will see everything from a new light, and while you were letting your mind rest, it was helping you prepare to face the problem.
Remember, disassociating from an issue can make you feel good about it, especially if you are learning math in a hectic college environment!
You may have been working on the problem for quite some time now. Your paper may be a mess of notes and numbers at this point. Put the work aside, and grab a new piece of paper. Start working from scratch.
This may make you wonder, "What!? I've just wasted all this time!" But you must repress that emotion. The truth is, you just spent all that time laying the groundwork; now you know which angle to take!
You can still look to your previous work if you need to, and rest assured your efforts will not have gone to waste.
Your earlier attempt will have given you valuable insights to make use of during your second stab at the problem.
It is essential to know when to quit. It usually is not possible for one student to solve every math problem they come across.
At some point, you have to understand when it's enough, cut your losses and work on the next thing. Knowing when to throw in the towel can help you analyze which battles to choose.
You will learn the most from a problem within the first one or two hours, rather than in another six hours. You may also have other issues you need to work on and other junior high school math concepts to learn.
This is why it is crucial to set a time limit, and if you feel like you are no closer to the solution by the time the buzzer goes off, read through the answer key and move on to the subsequent problems.
It is vital that even if you did give up and resorted to reading the solution, make that a learning experience.
Keep in mind not to read the solution passively; instead, read it actively. And as you are reading through it, think about the clues you missed within the problem that would have led you to the given answer.
Additionally, note down things you did wrong while attempting the problem. If you have read through the solution and explanation but still do not understand some aspects, research it further.
But also, focus on the correct steps you took and what led you to take them. Think about the routes you took that were a waste of time and what you should have focused on instead.
This introspection process will also help you deal with other middle school math topics and in different ways in the future.
Come Back To The Problem
Even if you gave up and peeked at the answer key, you should still come back to the problem and try solving it again after a few weeks.
If you could not find the answers, you should still have the problem on the back burner but do not let it go completely.
Note it down and revisit it after a couple of days, and your outlook towards the whole problem will change.
This strategy may be complicated for those used to always being right and never asking for help. Warning: this includes disgruntled dads who are useless at helping with homework!
It can be hard to admit that you need assistance. In this case, Superprof offers a catalog of private middle school math tutors you can choose from for help.
They offer quality one-on-one sessions based on your weaknesses; just make sure you do not feel conscious asking as many questions as you need to.
Moreover, countless middle school math resources are available online; however, they may not always be focused on your specific needs.
If you find yourself frequently searching Google for "how to improve math scores in middle school," then getting some extra help may be what you need.
There is no shame in that; it is natural to get stuck and require help. In fact, asking for help at an earlier stage will help you get farther in life.
You can also ask your family members, teacher, or friends to help you too if you don't want to hire someone.
To make it more fun, you can also look up the best math apps online that make math lessons interactive for you and give you the inspiration you need.
Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!
Just remember that no matter how badly you are stuck, there is always a way to come out on the other side.
As long as you have faith, determination and you make an effort, no math problem can get you down for long.
And if it does get the best of you, sign up with Superprof! All you have to do is visit the page, search for the tutor you need, choose your area, and start learning!
Remember, most Superprof teachers offer the first lesson for free, so try to capitalize on the opportunity!