He fails almost every test. I’m confused because he seems to understand his seventh grade algebra, but when he takes a test, he always makes these careless mistakes. No matter how many times I show him what he did wrong, he does it again.

What can I do? Do I need a seventh grade algebra tutor?

**Seth’s Mom
**

**Dear Seth’s Mom,**

Here are few reasons why Seth could be making careless mistakes. First of all, he could be going too fast. If Seth races through things, he’ll probably race through his math test and make mistakes. In this case, suggest to Seth that he put his pencil down before starting each problem. This simple act may help him slow down, catch his breath and start fresh on the next problem.

Maybe Seth makes careless mistakes because he’s not staying focused. For example, some kids add when there’s a minus sign and vice versa. If Seth does this, suggest that he circle the sign before doing the math problem.

Another common issue is keeping numbers lined up. If you think this is a problem, show him how to use lined paper turned sideways (or graph paper) to help keep numbers in line. He can also subvocalize while he’s doing the math problem. This means he talks to himself while he does the problem. He can even just move his lips which will help him stay focused.

Finally, he could be making mistakes because he gets anxious every time he has to take a math test. He may be so fearful that he’s going to fail that he loses focus on what he’s doing. Be sure you aren’t putting pressure on him. Some parents set their children up for failure by putting the children down every time they do poorly.

Instead of becoming frustrated which will just upset Seth, find out what’s causing him to make these mistakes. Then help him by giving him appropriate strategies.

Once you discover the cause of the problem, you can begin to look for solutions. It’s amazing how quickly problems disappear once the issues that cause the problem are resolved. You may not need an algebra tutor if the problem is just haste and some of my suggestions solved it.

But if that’s not the case and you can clearly see that he’s trying, it’s just not working – – – well, call us. We’d be happy to help determine what the problem is and then commence to solve it.

Best wishes to you and Seth,

Dr. Linda

Add your two cents. What do you think is the best way to seventh graders with algebra?

Thanks for posting this. I, too, feel Seth’s Mom’s pain. My daughter and I had a very similar story. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Thanks for the reassuring comment.