Why Is Geometry So Hard for Some Students?

Is Algebra 2 hard?
Is Algebra 2 hard?

Many kids struggle with math, but one topic that might be especially hard is geometry. And while it’s possible to get good at math through practice and studies, geometry is often the first time that most children encounter proof, and it requires a level of lateral thinking that most kids aren’t necessarily ready to handle. Let’s look at why geometry is so difficult for some and how you can help your child improve their geometrical skills.

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What Is Geometry?

Geometry is a branch of math that deals with shapes, sizes, positions, angles, and dimensions. It helps you understand how objects stay upright: you need to understand the height, length, area, depth, and volume and visualize its respective features.

The geometry you see at school is often completely disconnected from real life. As a result, teachers everywhere struggle to make their kids understand geometry because it’s markedly different from nearly everything you work on in math because it’s not purely focused on calculations. Geometry involves calculations but also involves understanding how space works in relation to itself.

[Read: How to Teach Your Child to Love Math]

Why Is Geometry So Hard? The Real Reason:

High school is the first time that kids encounter proof. A proof shows a statement to be true using theorems, postulates, and definitions. You can’t make assumptions with proofs. You need to prove every step in the logical process. The moment you understand a proof, it’s like tapping into the Matrix. But it’s different from other mathematical skills because you’re not required to just know the result. You need to be able to understand the complex logic that you used to get there. Is geometry hard because proofs are hard? The answer is yes.

Proofs are the explanation, and nearly everything else you do follows them. Once you understand them, things get more accessible, but it’s tough to understand them compared to other math concepts because they tend to be the most important part of the field you’re looking at.

Being given proof is often like being shown a single piece of a picture and being asked to deduce the entire mystery from that. Sure, the picture might contain all the clues needed to solve the mystery. But do you even know what you’re looking at? If you can’t recognize the clues for what they are, they might as well be useless.

So solving a geometry problem is kind of like being a detective. You’ll have to go through a series of steps, and investigate different parts of the picture and speculate on the clues: what they are, why they’re there, and how they got there. This can get confusing and convoluted quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Additionally, children sometimes struggle with geometry because they have difficulty visualizing how shapes work at different angles. Even math prodigies can stumble in geometry because it doesn’t follow a straightforward procedure like most of the other topics they study at school.

[Read: The Importance of Visual Learning in Math]

Is geometry as hard as some people think it is? People use two approaches to math: the arithmetical and the geometrical ways.

The arithmetical way depends on having good logical abilities, while the geometrical way depends on good spatial abilities. There’s no one learning method to appeal to both types of learners.

Many kids enter high school with an understanding of shapes: the names of each and formulas for calculating their areas. But it can be hard to remember these things since they’re so abstract and have minimal relation to anything in real life. So geometry is hard because it’s very abstract.

Even grown adults, like people pursuing engineering, find proof difficult.

Proofs aren’t designed to let you take a random problem you’ve never seen before and help you solve it. Instead, with proofs, you have to understand how they work and judge their correctness, write them down in the correct mathematical language, and learn when and how to apply them instead.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is geometry so hard?,” then I hope this answered some of your questions.

How To Get Over Your Fear Of Geometry

Most of the time, it’s not the fault of the child that they fear geometry. It’s easy to be afraid of something you don’t understand. But there are many things we can do to turn that fear around and instill confidence in children’s minds.

[Read: Benefits of Math]

1. Have a positive attitude:

Thinking that you’re bad at math because you don’t understand a concept on the first try can be a big hurdle for some people. Don’t let your fears get in the way of your education. Everyone has to start somewhere, and mistakes don’t mean anything; results do, and in the end, when you push past your challenges, you’ll be stronger and smarter in the future. And that’s the most important thing in the end.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help:

It’s easy to think that everyone else is able to understand the concepts but you? Here’s something that might surprise you: Most kids don’t understand math very well, and math phobia is one of the most common phobias in the world.

3. Practice, practice, practice:

Repeatedly working on problems can help you break through plateaus. Set aside time every day for you to practice old topics, look into new issues, and constantly look for ways to improve your learning abilities.

Hire a tutor if needed. Work with some friends. Create a system for yourself to solve problems and reward yourself for getting things right. Is geometry hard because you’re afraid of it, or is geometry hard because you don’t look for opportunities to practice whenever you can?

4. Change your approach:

Try to be creative. Consider open-ended problems. Place restrictions on how you can solve a problem. Activity-based maths that involve pen and paper along with lots of fiddling around and tinkering can help you make breakthroughs.

5. Find real-life applications:

Try to integrate math into your daily life. Make it meaningful, and attach some emotional stakes to solving a problem.

[Read: Math in Everyday Life]

6. Make a game of it in your head:

Get into the arts and try to break down everything you see, such as people and things, into geometrical shapes for you to experiment with. The patterns of leaves and flowers you see in nature all follow mathematical rules. The leaves on a tree come in different sizes, shapes, and symmetries.

You often have intuitive ways of understanding shapes and spaces, but you don’t use those intuitive ways to approach math when you’re at school. You can change this by re-framing the problems you encounter and looking for real-life examples to use as analogs for textbook problems.

Geometry is hard because most math doesn’t teach kids spatial thinking. Instead, they need to learn geometrical concepts with ease.

Proofs are a hard topic to get into, and everyone struggles with it. Kids need to understand that everyone suffers from this topic, even the most mathematically gifted ones. But as long as you change your approach, think creatively and never stop practicing, you can eventually get over your fear of geometry.

Read some of the other articles on the BYJU’S FutureSchool blog to find more resources for helping your child with math. Then, sign up for a FREE trial math class where your child can learn in a 1:1 environment with dedicated math teachers.

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