New standards are making 8th grade math increasingly challenging for modern math students. If you find that your child is struggling with 8th grade algebra, here are three areas where the problems could have their root.
1. Poor Foundational Math Skills
Algebra is all about taking the information you already know about numbers, expanding it, and then applying. Students who do not have a solid foundation for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are going to struggle as more is added to this basic understanding. Building up those foundational skills can help set your child up for success in 8th grade algebra.
2. Not Understanding How to Solve Basic Equations
Solving equations is really the core of 8th grade algebra. Students will start by learning to solve simple linear equations with just one variable, such as 35 = 4x + 7. If students have not had a solid foundation in learning how to solve equations, this one might be a challenge for them.
The key to teaching your child how to solve equations is thinking of the problem like a balance, where each side has to remain balanced and the equals sign is the pivot. In order to figure out what the variable is, you need to add, subtract, multiply or divide to “get rid of” the numbers surrounding the variable. However, because it is a balance, whatever you do to one side of the equals sign, you have to do to the other.
So, in the example, you would begin by subtracting the seven from both sides of the equals sign. This gives you 28 = 4x. At this point, your child may already know that 7 is the right answer, but to solve, you would need to divide by 4 on both sides of the equals sign.
3. Inability to Use the Distributive Property
Once this basic idea is grasped, the problems get more complex. A student may, for example, have to solve a more complicated problem like:
-9 – (9x -6) = 3 (4x +6)
In order to begin solving this problem, the student must simplify it by using the distributive property. The student “distributes” the negative sign in front of the (9x – 6) and the 3 in front of the (4x + 6). Distribution involves multiplying everything inside the parenthesis by the coefficient. In the case of the – sign, the coefficient is – 1. Now the problem becomes -9 – 9x + 6 = 12x + 18. The student combines the -9 and + 6 to yield -9x – 3 = 12x + 18, and the problem is solved as a simpler algebraic expression.
A failure to understand and properly apply the distributive property will make this problem seem overly complex and impossible. This is why a foundational understanding is so important.
Do you notice that your child is struggling in one of these areas? The solution may be simpler than you think. With the help of iPad-based tutoring, you can give your child the help of professional coaches right in the comfort of your own home. Whether your child needs extra help with foundational math skills that were taught before 8th grade or the concepts being covered in algebra class, Thinkster can help conveniently and effectively.