Why Do Some Elementary Students Fail in Math?

Elementary students struggle and sometimes fail in math because of a variety of environmental factors, including the instruction given, the supplied materials and the gap between the learner's ability and the subject matter. Additional factors attributable to the individual himself are locus of control, memory ability, attention span and the inability to understand the language of mathematics.

When instructors teach mathematics using rote memorization, the student may not recognize the underlying meaning and larger concepts, be unable to make connections, or learn reasoning and problem solving ability. If a student finds the textbooks and workbooks boring and repetitive, he may not want to do his homework and begin to fall behind. As the gap between the learner's ability and the subject matter grows wider, he grows more frustrated and may simply give up.

If a student sees his locus of control as external, he believes any successful performance in class or good grades are attributable to factors beyond his control, such as luck or chance, rather than from diligence and hard work. A learner who has trouble memorizing basic arithmetic or the language of mathematics cannot use these as the building block to higher concepts. A student with a poor attention span, either due to conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder or boredom, has gaps in his knowledge that are difficult to overcome as he gets older.