As a math tutor, it is extremely frustrating to sit down with a 6th, 7th, or even 8th grader and realize that this student has been making the same mistakes over and over for years. Sadly, no teacher has taken the time to show the student how to do what may be a very simple math operation. Skill gaps, lack of understanding of specific areas of past material, inhibit a student’s abilities to solve current math problems.

Research has conclusively shown that many students make the same mistakes year after year. Not only do they make the same mistakes but they make the mistake in a predictable manner. Thus, many students think they may have done very well on an exam only to find out they did not because they are routinely missing the same types of problems.

With school budgets shrinking and class sizes increasing, this problem of skill gaps is becoming more prominent. This is a very sad situation for many reasons. These skill gaps can typically be corrected quite easily with minimal remediation. Mastery of these areas is certainly within the abilities of the students as they have already learned more difficult math operations. Without remedy, the consistently missed problems caused by these gaps can easily lead to math phobia and increased anxiety. The result is tragic as children give up on their dreams and aspirations at a very young age.

Two goals for all children are logical thinking and problem solving. Math is the perfect tool to develop these vital life skills. The most important elements for successfully learning math are attitude, interest, motivation, and temperament. It is a myth that only some people can be good in math.

Hopefully all students will have that teacher or tutor that will recognize their skill gaps and take the time to help them get on the right track to having an incredible understanding of math, logical thinking, and problem solving skills.