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Home-based learning causing students to fall behind in math

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

‘How severely has my child’s academic progress been hampered due to the pandemic? ‘

Let’s try and put a little perspective to the concern that has been looming large over parents of school going children across the world.

A recent assessment done by the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association, a global not-for-profit educational services organization) showed elementary and middle school students falling measurably behind in math, while most appear to be progressing at a normal pace in reading.

Representing data from nearly 4.4 million students across the United States, the analysis draws a preliminary conclusion that although students continued learning when schools shifted online; they just did not learn quite as much in math had they not shifted to home based learning.

But why does Math get hit the hardest?

Math may be more sensitive to pandemic-related schooling disruptions for a few reasons. Here’s what the experts say:

1. Math requires a more technical approach

Learning math involves a style that is more formal and technical than other subjects. It demands more concentration from the children and greater observation from teachers, making math easier to impart in a classroom environment as compared to online.

2. Escalation of pre-existing math anxiety

Math anxiety already exists widely amongst students. Stress and trauma related to the pandemic may worsen existing math anxiety in some students, whose homes are already dealing with a list of other challenges brought about by the situation.

3. Math requires greater practical in class guidance

Often solving math problems requires a step by step approach, hence supervision at various levels is required in the process. In such cases,it can be challenging for teachers to demonstrate certain math instructional practices or monitor them via remote platforms.

4. Teaching math requires specific expertise in parents

Some parents may be less equipped to help their children with math as compared to other subjects. Activities like reading, spelling, art can be more easily taught by parents since they do not follow specific methodology.

The Good News - Math related apps proven to improve performance and learning experience

Parents breathe a sigh of relief as studies have also found children of math-anxious parents who opted for a math-based app showing greater progress in math than students of similar parents who did not use the app.

Founder of Smartli, an app created specifically to counter math anxiety issues and make learning math fun, Charis Chio says, “Kids are known to learn better when they are having fun. With an online offering like Smartli, where kids are kept engaged and entertained while learning elementary math, it’s a win-win situation for both kids and parents.

Educators may advice adopting math-related games and apps that encourage families to integrate math conversations into their day to day lives.

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