Why Don't American Kids Learn Math?

Posted by Tiara Swinson on October 29, 2018

kids in america don't know mathIn schools across the United States, a strong emphasis is placed on education, especially in fields like mathematics and science. Despite this, however, the United States trails behind other developed countries in terms of the mathematical skills of its students—sometimes by an extreme margin.

If the United States cares so much about math, how come its students struggle so much with it?

How American Children Compare to Students in Other Countries

Despite the fact that American students begin learning math from a young age, studying formulas and problem-solving mechanics and equations until their heads are spinning, many struggle in the subject. In fact, 60 percent of American students finish high school unprepared for college classes, compared to a much smaller number in other developed countries. The US ranked 42nd in a global comparison of math skills by country, placing below the global average by 20 points. Singapore ranked first, with many East Asian and European countries following at its heels.

Why Are American Children Struggling in Math?

So if children in America are struggling with math skills, where does that difficulty come from? A study developed by James Stigler, a professor of developmental and cognitive psychology, asserts that the excessive standardization of American schools is to blame. Across America, math skills are taught by educating children on how to mindlessly execute individual concepts at a time, which affects their ability to learn.

When concepts are taught to a child without context or an understanding of how those concepts relate to others they've already learned, students are only taught how to regurgitate information, not display critical thinking skills. In many other countries, students are presented with concepts that work together concurrently, and their homework and worksheets contain problems of multiple types so students have to learn to reason and identify what problem needs to be solved before solving it. This encourages a greater understanding of the material over mindless execution.

How to Help Your Child Improve Their Math Skills

Does your child struggle with math? If so, hope is not all lost. A lot can be learned by studying the teaching habits of other countries, and those techniques can be used to help your child excel.


Abacus learning has proven time and again how successful it has been. The increase in your child's confidence and ability can be seen after just four months of using the abacus. Not only is your child understanding how numbers relate to each other on a fundamental level, they will be able to calculate large numbers in their head quickly.


Your child  will need a mastery of the  basic operation. You should always encourage your child to stay away from the calculator when doing math problems. If your child is using a calculator because they don't know how to do this operation that is a red flag. Your child should not be assigned problems they have not been taught how to solve. There is no reason for your child to use a calculator. They need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide on their own. If they are struggling in any of these areas, talk to their teacher about how to get them up to speed.

Every parent needs to get involved with what their child is learning. If your child is falling behind in math, we are here to help. Math Genie believes passionately that every child has the potential to be a genius. No matter what your child is struggling with, our teachers are committed to helping them understand. 

When a student understands the concepts behind a problem, they can solve it no matter the difficulty. We help you teach your child how to excel in math to put them ahead of their peers and help them keep up in a competitive global workforce. 

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Topics: Common Core, Math, Math Skills, Math Tutoring, Learning Styles

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