Why Remedial Math Isn’t the End of the World

Chances are pretty good that if your kid hates math, it’s because of some skill she never mastered. Even if she gets a passing grade and is promoted to the next math course, it’s true. That thing she didn’t learn properly or fully will remain that way. It will haunt her every time she has to use it to learn something new in a math class.


It will worsen over time. This is an example of what could happen with his one math skill issue. What if he has a few existing problems? Even if you only consider his one unlearned math skill, how many other issues will arise because of it?

That’s why I teach remedial math. I’ve personally seen more kids who took pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, or above struggle with their math skills. I’ve seen algebra students who didn’t know some of the harder times tables, e.g., sixes through nines. They figured that they could work through the current coursework and fake what they didn’t previously learn. They didn’t realize how much time it would cost them. Despite everything, their plans failed.

Basic math exists for a reason: all the other math relies on it. Don’t let a passing grade be a false sense of hope. Your kid passing or barely passing a course doesn’t indicate competency. It means:

  • She barely managed to pass a course she didn’t really understand.
  • He doesn’t know the subject matter like he should.
  • The next course will likely create the same experience.

If you remember all the headaches and issues that occurred, you can expect more of them.

Part of parenting includes the times when you are unable to stop your children’s pain. You care whether they are troubled. They are the ones feeling the pain. They are in the classroom suffering a 45-minute class like it’s a three-hour class. It’s repeated whenever they have quizzes, tests, midterms, and finals. The same occurs when they have to study for them.

If you know any of the following scenarios apply to your child, get help.

  1. They are the ones who are unprepared for class, i.e., no book, paper, or pencil.
  2. They fail the tests because they don’t do the homework.
  3. They don’t do the homework because they can’t learn the concepts.
  4. They can’t learn the concepts because they don’t really meet the prerequisites.
  5. That’s because of their unaddressed basic math issues.
  6. They’re in middle school or high school struggling with math.

Get them past some of the worst things about the school experience.

In my classes, they’ll be with other students who are in the same boat, not much younger students who will point fingers and ridicule them. Once they learn what they need to know, there will be no proof that they didn’t know those things all along.

Twitter: @DeidreMSimpson



How Math Makes Kids Suffer

When you meet someone who knows something, do you wonder when he or she learned it? Probably not, which is why it doesn’t matter. Every day, students beat themselves up over not knowing something they were supposed to learn long ago. Sometimes they have an all-or-nothing viewpoint, the “straight-A or F” mindset. There are plenty of other grades in between those. A “C” is quite acceptable.

Success doesn’t equate to genius. Being good at math doesn’t require figuring it out in your head like a genius, mathematician, or magician. Kids have a way of setting unreasonable goals when they feel they’re in a dilemma alone.

Do you know if your kid’s stomach ties up in knots when math is taught? What does the stress of facing math failure do to his or her health? You can imagine. That’s your precious baby. Lots of time and effort has been invested in his or her success. You know how stress makes you feel. Maybe your son or daughter doesn’t want to disappoint you yet remains stuck or doubtful. That’s a sign of willingness. Take action.

Fill in those gaps in your kid’s math knowledge. Once the skills are there, no one will know they ever weren’t. That’s the point. Math isn’t the enemy. It’s a tool.

The Point of the Arts and Developing Hobbies

Sometimes we just love a certain subject, thing, or activity. When I was in college, I was a business major. I loved my literature class. I had notes in the margins of my large textbook. The color and feel of it resonated with me. Abstract cover art was the hook. The stories were great and gave me much to analyze. Even now, it astounds me how a collection of short stories can move me. Authors I don’t recognize present unique tales and perspectives, especially across cultures. The world has plenty of writers and filmmakers, too, but I digress.

The English Contractor

I wasn’t an English major initially because my dad said the world had an excess of those. That included teachers. As a business major, I liked what was involved. It used the administrative skills that got me jobs. I imagined being an independent contractor in demand, sporting pastel suits and a briefcase. Whatever I did would succeed. What’s more, I would like it.

Math Motivation

Math had been the bane of my existence for years during K-12. Every time I found my rhythm, it wasn’t because I liked math. It was to avoid consequences. I regarded no principal or detention the way I feared my parents. School staff and faculty—not my parents—were nice, polite, and gentle. Math was another chore.

Art Bandages for Geometry

I adored high school geometry. It wasn’t like algebra. Proofs occasionally drove me crazy. They wanted me to prove the obvious. Sometimes my answers were wrong, and I couldn’t always see why. Then I took Algebra II, a haze of more mathematics than I could ever need. My painting and drawing class prevented impending insanity. Art healed better than aloe vera.

Math Genius Jokes

Once the math was under control, I got a crazy idea. Again, it was from my father. “You could be a mathematician.” He had (and still has) such high hopes for me. Being good at math could work well. I changed my major to math.

When the Faking Pays Off

As a result, I had to take precalculus. I was a sophomore. As a freshman, I barely passed trigonometry because my freedom rivaled my academic discipline. There was an unspoken old-school mantra: “Take as many math and English courses as possible.” No one told me that its success in the workforce required a major in one or both. I hated the volume of precalculus homework for two to four points per assignment.

Discipline v. Love

I don’t remember when I bought the book on mathematicians. It explained the differences between applied math and pure math. All of the people featured loved one or the other. I didn’t love math; I was just good at it. I mastered things because I learned subjects well. What was wrong with exploiting my math? Did I have the proper motivation? I eventually got rid of the book. The square peg-round hole feeling appeared whenever I browsed it.

Distractions v. Hobbies

My point is that I had varied interests during the pursuit of a degree. Those distractions could be culled into hobbies. I admire those who take a topic so seriously that they develop them. That’s despite compensation, which, for hobbies, may be zero. They can be done for the joy or satisfaction they bring. Either way, a hobby is something done for oneself.


Why There Shouldn’t Be a Stigma Regarding Do-Overs

Is repeating a grade such a bad thing? Flunking is an ugly but honest word. Being held back is a gentler truth. It still exists. It’s a temporary setback for the greater good. At some point, neither it nor the deficit will show. That’s the basic idea behind tutoring and summer school in the first place. Both options keep the student on track for promotion or graduation.


Repeating a Subject

Then there’s repeating one course. Many students sweat the months of April and May each year. “Am I going to pass?” Passing is about pride versus humiliation when there’s a lack of planning. This was true when school used to start in September as a rule. Even with an extra month in the school year provided by starting in August, it remains. Their concern abides over at least one subject late in the school year despite many advantages. The fall semester ends before late December, which allows a truly relaxed winter break. Spring break is at least a week long, maybe two in some places. There are assorted holidays within the school year that generally aren’t observed in the world of work.



As previously mentioned, of course, there’s tutoring. It’s free via the school district. Others opt to pay for the service. Tutoring can prevent repeating a course or grade. Done in second semester, it is ideal for topics taught in that time frame.

Unfortunately, there are two ways this can go. One is that it can make the difference. The other is that depending on some things, it may not.

Tutoring agencies give pretests that identify deficits. A student with fifth grade level math skills during seventh grade may not pass. It’s unlikely that he will learn two years’ worth of material in two months even with daily tutoring. It’s normally done two or three times a week to avoid dependency.

The question becomes whether to fill those gaps once and for all or aim for homework help. The former will involve a massive effort that falls short. The latter choice prolongs the suffering.


Looking Forward

If a student has several years of basic education left, repeating a course would do her a great favor. For one, it would end the revenge of knowledge gaps in the applicable subject. She could move forward into successive courses with confidence. Even with only a few years of school left, graduation and getting a job proves the goal was met. Except for college entrance exams and certain jobs, only basic math is required for adults. Remedial courses are another option.


When Aiming High Is a Lofty Goal

If your child likes puppies and dogs, that’s great. It isn’t a sign that he or she should become a veterinarian. There’s a big difference between the two.

At the local animal shelter, there’s a veterinarian with an attached clinic. Pets with illnesses are there.

The shelter staff has office employees that help with the pets brought there. They maintain vaccination schedules and records for local pets. They know which vaccinations pets need, including how many rounds and the cost. They will make an appointment for the next vaccine.

These people all work with animals. Only one of them is the veterinarian. The vet works with all domestic animals.

Your kid only likes dogs and cats or puppies and kittens. He or she is better off as animal shelter staff than as a veterinarian.

Sure, the veterinarian makes more money and has higher status. He or she should. A veterinarian is a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Your kid likes playing with baby animals. That’s not an interest in medicine. Remember that when you start dreaming for them. At some point, their own dreams for themselves will matter more than yours do.


The Overlooked Link Between School and Work

Education is introduced as easy yet soon becomes grueling for many. Kids can’t leave K-12 curriculum. So some of them suffer through it. There are programs for those who struggle.

The School-Work Association

School is preparation for work. That’s obvious. Unfortunately, the details are overlooked. Most people work day shift jobs. Kids attend school within the same time frame. In both scenarios, attendance, punctuality, obedience to authority, development, and performance are emphasized. They get graded on it. Employees get paid for it. If those principles are violated, kids get detention, phone calls to parents, or suspensions. When workers do it, they get counseled, written up, or terminated.

A Bad Fit

Professionally unhappy adults continue gagging on bad jobs or wrong jobs because of the money. No wonder adults tend to hate (or dislike or remain unchallenged by) their work. They tolerate the wrong positions for too long (or at all). Kids unknowingly pick up on parents’ hidden feelings and opinions. Then they subconsciously emulate that behavior. Parents rarely tell children a bad fit exists.

Most parents wait until high school to pressure kids into choosing a career. That’s probably because the schools emphasize it then. If they dread the world of work, why wouldn’t their kids?

Oh, the Fear

Kids so fear disappointing parents academically that they’ll lie to avoid it. It could be about wanting to enroll in college. Maybe it’s about what jobs they want. They’ll say they’re aiming for the moon. It’s to relieve the pressure on them. They don’t realize that it doesn’t end. The parental pressure matures into professional pressure from peers and bosses.

On the upside, parental opinions matter to them. On the downside, they don’t think parents will accept disagreement on one of the biggest decisions in life. They also fear the consequences of standing by their words. Again, school is preparation for the workforce.


They shouldn’t have to suffer like this. We should be interested in directing them toward fulfilling work. Adults’ negative experiences in the professional realm don’t have to be theirs. A parent would have to construct a plan to change careers. Kids wouldn’t. To qualify for a dream job, Mom or Dad may have to volunteer or take a second job. Kids wouldn’t have to do anything that would jeopardize their personal relationships.

Think of all the things that would be asking a lot (or too much) of an established adult. Starting over, becoming the newbie, and internship are actions kids can safely take now. It’s early, so they are like blank slates. They have long futures ahead of them.


When they first start having academic problems, hire that tutor. Enroll them in summer school. Don’t wait until it is a gargantuan, costly task requiring surrender. Give them assessment and personality tests. They’ve probably got a marketable job skill they wouldn’t hate to use. With the proper launch, they’ll land on the moon.


10+ Thoughts on Writing and Purging

When you write, you purge. Everything you have to say is being expressed via pen, pencil, paper, or device. The words are like tears in a way: they can only come out…Unlike tears, they can be expressed in actions as as well.

People may interpret purging as ridding themselves of something bad. Maybe that’s true. Others may be unable to contain their feelings or thoughts. That’s what makes writing a good emotional outlet or exercise. It’s highly recommended it for the repressed, depressed, and oppressed. The paper, pen, or PC will not judge or criticize you harshly. A variable exception would be the results of the grammar or spelling checker. Before the red pen arrives, you run the world in your mind.