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Why So Many Students Hate Math (And How To Fix It)


Female student reading at the library.

Math has a wide-spread reputation for being the subject students hate. It’s not uncommon to hear “I hate math class” or “math is too hard” from students who are struggling.

But what causes so many students to dislike math? What can be done to ensure more students see how fun and fulfilling it can be?

If your child is among the many students who hate math, there are ways to help. Read on to find out why hating math is so common and how you can help your child learn to view the topic as more than just numbers and equations.

4 Common Reasons Students Dislike Math (And How To Help)

The Reason: There Are Limited Ways To Earn Marks

With subjects such as English or writing, marks can come from a variety of factors like creativity, spelling, grammar, style, punctuation, and more. With math, there are few opportunities to earn marks because an answer can only be right or wrong.

How to Help: Help Your Child Focus On Understanding The Material

Help your child learn to view answers being right or wrong as a positive. With essays and reading assignments, it can be difficult to achieve high marks because there are so many different ways marks can be awarded or taken away. If your child works hard and understands the material, there is a possibility of getting close to 100% on his or her tests.

The Reason: Students Thinks It’s Dull

Some students dislike math because they think it’s dull. They don’t get excited about numbers and formulas the way they get excited about history, science, languages, or other subjects that are easier to personally connect to. They see math as abstract and irrelevant figures that are difficult to understand.

How to Help: Connect Math to Real Life Scenarios

Show your child how math relates to real-world scenarios in order to spark his or her interest in the subject. If you have any relatives or friends who work with numbers for their career, ask them to talk to your child about their job the next time they visit. You can also point out how math plays a part in everyday life like when totalling up groceries and telling time.

The Reason: It Requires Lots Of Memorization

Many students who struggle with math struggle with memorizing all the rules and equations involved. In reality, memorization is only one part of learning math.

How to Help: Focus on Problem Solving

Instead of simply memorizing, students should concentrate on understanding how and why these formulas work. Students who depend on memorization when learning math aren’t able to apply their knowledge and tend to become discouraged when asked to think outside of the box.

In your child’s spare time, offer him or her number-based brain teasers that focus on building problem-solving skills rather than memorization. These can be a fun way to get your child excited about math.

Use these brain teasers as a start:

What digit is the most frequent between the numbers 1 and 1,000?
Answer: “1”

What 3 positive numbers give the same result when multiplied and added together?
Answer: “1, 2, and 3.”

The Reason: It Requires Making a Lot of Mistakes

In order to learn, math requires making a lot of mistakes. Students have to repeat the same types of questions over and over again until they get the right answers—and it can get frustrating. Repetitively getting wrong answers can take a toll on one’s confidence, leading them to shy away from the subject.

How to Help: Show That Making Mistakes Is Part Of Learning

It’s important that children don’t avoid tasks that are challenging and require hard work. Help your child understand that the harder it is to get an answer right, the more fulfilling it will be when he or she eventually solves it. If your child gets discouraged while learning math, remind him or her that making mistakes is just part of the process of learning. This valuable lesson applies both in the classroom and to life as a whole.

Your Child Can Learn To Love Math

Just because your child isn’t showing interest in math now, doesn’t mean he or she will never show interest in it! Oxford Learning has a variety of math tutoring programs

More Math Resources

What Is Math Anxiety?

The Problem With Math

Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching

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