Tips for learning math?

I’m homeschooled, which I don’t want to give up since I was bullied a lot in school and teachers shamed me for not being able to handle school as well as others, but I’m struggling to learn math online. I just can’t focus enough to understand. I’m currently using Khan Academy. Anyone have suggestions for better websites/apps or tips for using Khan Academy?

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No idea myself . . . Others here I’m sure will . . .
Just want to welcome you here!

:sunglasses:

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@Katherine, no idea about online apps or websites in English, but If you are having trouble understand something specific I can try to help explaining the topics you are having issues with if you think it might help, and don’t give up, people can’t be mean, but the fact you are having a hard time probably means that people are not explain it in a way you can understand and our brains kind of do math in a weird way as far as I know, so that might be an issue too.

And teachers shouldn’t shame you for not getting it specially if they know you have adhd, that is not proper way to teach or be incentive your students to learn at all… :roll_eyes:

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I did well in math mostly because I was interested in it, but my high school Algebra teacher taught me one very important lesson: show your work.

(I had a habit of not showing my work and trying to do too many calculations in my head… But by writing out what I was doing in my head, I made less mistakes.)

I worked as a professional math tutor for a couple of years, and from that I found that there are often at least 3 or 4 ways to explain any concept. So, as good as Khan Academy is, don’t just rely on that one site. There are lots of other sites that teach math concepts. Here’s a webpage I found that lists several. https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/apps-websites-teaching-math-online/
I know that I’ve checked out some of the sites listed there, like Wolfram MathWorld, Math is Fun, and edX. Even Wikipedia can help sometimes. (Some sites require a subscription, but there are lots of free sources of help.)

Here is some advice that I gave the students I tutored, plus some things I’ve picked up since then:

  1. Work through the examples. (Then try the same process on the problems that are similar to an example.) If you’re not understanding a particular example, try to look for more like it.

  2. Write out all your work, every step.
    a) You might even talk yourself through it out loud. This really helps some people.
    b) My wife took a college math class and learned a trick that really helped her with taking notes that she could easily follow later on. The instructor used a different color for each step in a lesson. My wife bought a set of colored pencils to do the same.

  3. For Algebra and beyond, learn the Order of Operations (PEMDAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication & division, then addition & subtraction)

  4. Write out a sheet of paper with the formulas and operations you need to use, so that you don’t have to keep flipping through the book to find them

DISCLAIMER: I am not currently a math tutor or an educational professional. It has been over 15 years since I worked in that role. I am sharing this information based on my experience, but these are suggestions which may or may not help.

It is my sincere hope that this information is helpful to someone, but keep looking for more. There’s a lot of other helpful information out there. Find what works for you. What works for one person doesn’t always work for others.

(For instance, I didn’t memorize the Times Tables when my peers did in elementary school, but instead I figured it how to actually multiply small integers in my head. I later learned the Times Tables in 6th Grade, after I heard from my teacher that I should have learned them by 4th Grade, and doing so helped me become faster at math. Memorization has always been difficult for me, and learning procedures less difficult, and so in my case it was easier for me to learn the multiplication algorithm. Most of the other students in my 6th Grade class would finish multiplication speed tests before me, but I would often have among the highest success rates because I cared greatly about getting the answers right, and not as much about answering every question, although I never liked leaving a problem unsolved.)

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I was the same. Doing it in my head.

The teacher would say “Show your working!!!” and I would ask “Why?”

“Just because.” That has never been an acceptable answer for me.

“Is my answer right?”

“Well… Yes”.

“I rest my case!” And I would just throw the numbers around in my head, and not show working.

That went pretty well for me, until more advanced mathematics. There were just too many variables, too many numbers swimming around in my head to be able to work efficiently that way.

And by then, I had no idea how to show the working, or use pen and paper as a scratchpad to keep track of everything.

Also, that was when my ADHD was in full swing, sending my life down the toilet. So I bombed school and had my first hit of major depression and anxiety.

Show your working. :+1:

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Wow! As a senior citizen I haven’t heard that expression in many, many years. But so true . , . just an excuse when someone really can’t give a good rationale for what they are asking you to do . . . Or not do for that matter!

Thanks for the memories (as Bob Hope would say . . . Although I have seen a sexist, and politically incorrect, play on words used in reference to beautiful women who accompanied him on his trips overseas to entertain the troops . . . all men in those days.

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I’m in Australia, “just because” is in common usage here. WAY too common…

On the other hand, it could be a fair answer to questions like “Why would the Doppler shift on objects travelling at the speed of light change from red to blue?” when you’re running late for the bus…

Bob Hope was a gem! A funny guy, very professional entertainer.

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It’s really a lazy answer, having to show your work is fundamental in math and logic related problem solving because what is being taught is usually how to apply a methodology to solve a specific type of problem, so the teacher needs to see witch steps you use to get to the answer because its far more important to see how you get there then if you get the correct answer, because its the only real way to get if the other person got the concept properly or where they are struggling with it.

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I used to just throw the numbers around in my head, until they felt “right”.

But once I got to quadratic equations (I think it was, from memory), I had trouble keeping track of everything.

I went from winning maths competitions, and top of my class, to collecting shopping trolleys at the supermarket.

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I cant really keep many numbers in my head when doing math, I usually have to at least write down the values I get so I can have room to keep calculations on my head without forgetting the values, but I usually messed up with some basic add or multiplication in the end because I wasn’t really paying too much attention and never checked it out, I was way batter with geometry because I could draw and that picks my focus way more that pure math, I never got really good grades in math (in physics math was way worse for me somehow) but I get to manage to get by with that. The worst part was when I got to my graduation in computer sciences that got me to really find out that I had more of a knack for algebra and logic, not so much for calculus and analytical geometry or statistic (had to do each at least twice, to manage to pass).

I feel you there and I think its quite hard for us to adjust and adapt to the world as it is if we don’t have some kind of orientation to get us on the right track, I always felt like I was fending for myself and somehow having a harder time and putting double the effort than everyone else did and still didnt manage to accomplish nothing like them…

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I didn’t know about ADHD then. I just had everybody’s favourite, the good old “You’re just stupid and lazy”.

Let the good times roll! :slight_smile:

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Yeah I guessed it was something like that, glad that even if a bit later in life we were able to find out about adhd so we can at least get somewhat cleansed of “that” stigma.

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I agree with @j_d_aengus & his Algebra teacher: Show your work. It will help you remember intermediate steps + deriving those steps again is good practice, and it will help others in knowing where you have a problem or got something wrong. This may take some practice but it is a good habit to learn as you learn to not assume things you can’t prove. Finally it also helps with our inability to maintain focus. If you switch from math to doing something else and then go back, the last step you wrote down will allow you continue from where you left off rather than start from scratch!

Also, (ideally), if you know made a false step, don’t erase it and steps after it. Just mark them somehow (so that you can still read them again) and put your new steps below.

I also agree with him that there are multiple ways you can learn. One thing you can try is to test out on small numbers. As an example, what is the sum of odd integers? You can see that 1+3 = 4, 1+3+5 = 9, 1+3+5+7 = 16, and pretty soon you see the pattern: the result is a square number.

I also agree on doing exercises. Typically exercises are chosen to apply what you learn in a chapter or section so they are a good practice. And each worked out example will increase your skill a bit. This can make you more confident. Otherwise what happens is as you learn new material which biuilds on earlier, you end up having to relearn old material as you are not quite sure about it.

I can provide more specific help if I know what area of math you are currently learning. Good luck!

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