Understanding Math Concepts

For a student to progress in mathematics, several conceptual building blocks must be acquired. Such components include:

  • the ability to form and use associations (as in number concepts and symbol use)
  • a grasp of the language of Mathematics, from concepts such as measurement and money to the technical vocabulary of math such as parallelogram and denominator.
  • an understanding of the relationships involved in numeric operations (such as the place value concept behind borrowing and carrying)
  • the ability to make generalizations (as in the application of mathematical learning to everyday situations)
This chart describes important skills related to understanding math concepts:

Necessary SubSkillsCommon ObstaclesHelpful Tips
Student understands mathematical symbols and can visualize patterns, math concepts, and the parts of a problem in his/her head. Student has difficulty visualizing patterns or the parts of a math problem in his head. Student has difficulty associating math symbols with the concepts they represent. view
Student understands math vocabulary words and is able to build math knowledge through the use of math language. Student is not comfortable using mathematical language, or has difficulty with math vocabulary words. view
Student understands how concepts are related (as in the relationship between addition and subtraction, or between ratio and proportion). Student has difficulty seeing how concepts (such as addition and subtraction, or ratio and proportion) are related to each other. view
Student can see how math concepts (such as proportion or measurement ) apply to everyday life. Student has problems transferring concepts learned in the math classroom to real life situations. view