Mathematics is a subject which builds upon previously learnt knowledge. Each year of schooling advances upon the concepts learned from previous years. A solid foundation is vital for students to succeed in mathematics. Without solid math skills, students are likely to have a lot of trouble throughout school.
Students with weak basic math skills find the subject to be increasingly difficult and confusing. Students who don’t have a good set of math skills tend to develop math anxiety and tend to try and avoid doing mathematics, which only worsens the problem. When a student develops a solid foundation in math, they can then take on any concept in math with fewer struggles and more enjoyment. They may even begin to enjoy math and think it’s fun!
In order to build a solid foundation, we need a particular approach which focuses from the bottom all the way to the top. A lot of students don’t get a proper introduction to mathematics, which builds confidence and deep understanding in the subject. This ends up with the student being taught a very narrow focus toward math. (For example, an overemphasis on shapes, and overlooking arithmetic or a focus on rules instead of comprehension)
The best way to ensure concepts are well understood is to revise them consistently. Students should place an equal focus on the concepts they really enjoy and understand to the ones they consider to be boring. Math anxiety is a product of poor understanding in a math concept, which can usually be traced back to the introduction of the subject area. Students cannot properly understand the more complex concepts in math, without thoroughly understanding the easier ones.
Studies have shown students learn best when they are active rather than passive learners. Everyone is capable of learning, but may learn in different ways. Therefore, lessons must be presented in a variety of ways. For example, different ways to teach a new concept can be through play acting, cooperative groups, visual aids, hands on activities and technology. Learners are different than they were forty years ago. Students ask questions why something is done this way or that way and why not this way. Gone are the days where students could just rote learn concepts and not question them. Students cannot regurgitate operations in a math exam and expect to get more than a mere passing grade (if not a failure). Students really need to understand the introduction from each topic area in math to ensure they have a good foundation.
Students should be encouraged to ask questions and try and understand the fundamentals of each concept. Having a strong math foundation will always make the questions in examinations seem easier. Building strong math foundations will lead to increased learning skills. Understanding that math is a subject that can be viewed from several perspectives is often reserved for those that have exposure to it. Students that have a good understanding of the basics have more time to try and understand the same concept from multiple viewpoints. This ensures appreciation of the subject and leads to very high results.