Do you have a child who seems to be great with some subjects, but they just can’t grasp maths? Many kids struggle with maths, and sometimes it’s simply because they’ve missed one vital step along the way. Small knowledge gaps can lead to larger problems with learning. It’s a common problem, but one that’s easy to address with tutoring.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about maths tutoring.
Primary School Maths Tutoring
The approach needed for primary school maths tutoring is far different to what would be required in high school. Primary school maths tutoring is all about learning the basics, teaching good habits and ensuring that children have no knowledge gaps that prevent them from progressing confidently.
The Sequence of Learning
The topic of knowledge gaps comes up a lot when talking about tutoring. One of the easiest ways these can occur is by teaching maths in the wrong order. It’s important that kids first work on addition and subtraction before moving on to multiplication. Since multiplication is basically a repetition of addition, it makes sense that a child needs to understand the basics first. Once they have a solid grasp of multiplication, they can move on to division.
Maths tutoring can ensure children are learning processes in the correct order, minimising the risk of knowledge gaps occurring. If gaps are already present, tutoring offers a great chance to go back over everything and ensure children have a good understanding of all basic maths concepts.
Avoiding Long Division
While it could be argued that calculators remove the need for most maths problems in the modern world, it is particularly relevant for long division. It’s been a point of frustration for kids for decades now, and schools are moving away from teaching it.
Rather than focusing on long division, it is more important that children understand the basic principles of how division works, and when it’s required. Long division has effectively been made obsolete by calculators, so while kids need to understand the concept, they don’t need to spend a lot of time memorising the formula.
Primary school maths tutoring needs to be fun. Children of a younger age rarely respond to endless lines of text and maths problems, so it’s essential they are learning in a way they enjoy. Especially in years 1-3, it’s more effective to use objects while they’re developing a basic concept of numbers.
Children learn the underlying principles of maths processes when they’re able to identify with their learning activities. Using diagrams, pictures and counters is a far more effective method of teaching than just using worksheets. For example, when it comes to multiplication, an image of 4 paddocks with 6 cows in each will be more relatable than seeing 6×4 written on a page.
Throw Away the Worksheets
Worksheets can be a good way for high achieving children to practice maths and ensure they’re continuing to learn and progress at a steady rate. For children who are having difficulty though, worksheets aren’t effective.
Primary school maths tutoring should be about understanding how numbers work. If a child hasn’t quite grasped the basics yet, doing worksheets full of questions they don’t understand is only going to put a dent in their confidence. Once that confidence is damaged, learning becomes more difficult as they become scared to try.
We suggest throwing away the worksheets and focussing on helping kids understand what they’re learning before they start working through problems independently.
High School Maths Tutoring
High school maths can be difficult. The work becomes more complex and introduces new processes that students need to wrap their heads around. That can be particularly difficult if they have knowledge gaps and haven’t picked up the basics. That’s where high school maths tutoring comes in.
Thinking Long Term
High school maths tutoring needs to take a long-term approach while addressing any key knowledge gaps that exist. Spending too much time using a maths textbook may help them get through the next week’s worth of lessons, but if students are struggling with basic study techniques, the success will only be short-lived.
Tutoring should be helping students understand how to get the most of their learning time so they can continue to develop their skills while at school. Study techniques, problem solving skills and a solid knowledge base of mathematics principles will benefit the student throughout their schooling. Children will generally focus on the next test, but quality tutoring should be providing the long term skills to cope with tests rather than just revising their current work.
Filling Knowledge Gaps
If your child is struggling with the more complex maths required in high school, there could be a really simple problem with an even easier solution. Often if children are forced to move on to more complex work before having a sound understanding of the previous work, they will struggle to adapt. This is called a knowledge gap.
Maybe your child has always been fine with addition, subtraction and times tables, but when it comes to division they’ve always struggled. If they simply didn’t grasp the fundamentals of division, everything that follows is going to be difficult. High school maths tutoring aims to find those gaps in knowledge, fill them, and students can confidently move on to more difficult work.
Learning How to Use Textbooks
Let’s face it – maths textbooks can be pretty boring. However, students need to understand how they work to get the most out of them. Kids can sometimes see them as just a series of questions to answer, and that’s all they need to do with them.
Rather than just being a series of questions, textbooks can be a valuable learning tool. They will explain new processes, provide examples, and then give problems to be solved in order to consolidate a student’s learning. With the answers in the back, students can also take some responsibility for reviewing their own work and ensuring they understand each process.
Relating Maths to the Real World
Has your child ever posed questions about when they would ever use (insert maths process here) in the real world? If we’re being honest, we probably all asked that question as teenagers too. However this is partly due to the way maths is taught in schools. Often the work is very worksheet or textbook based, and maths problems generally don’t have very interesting real-life examples.
High school maths tutoring can help students make a connection between their school work and any future career aspirations they have. As parents, we know that maths forms a huge part of our society and is an integral part of almost every job, but relating that to students can be difficult.
Confidence for Maths
Maths tutoring should aim to help improve a student’s confidence, no matter their age. Without confidence, children are hesitant to try for fear of getting things wrong. Mistakes are an extremely valuable source of learning though, and children should be encouraged to make them and learn from them.
Motivating Kids to Learn
It’s a simple fact that children aren’t going to love every subject they do at school. There could be a whole range of reasons for that, but they also need to understand there is value in everything they learn.
Motivating a child to study a subject they’re not interested in can feel like swimming against the tide, but if that subject happens to be maths, we all know the importance of learning it. The relationship a child forms with a tutor can go a long way to increasing that motivation. If the child feels safe and confident to give things a go during tutoring, they will start to see success in their results which motivates them to keep putting the effort in.
Building Confidence Increases Effort
When a child loses confidence it can be a setback to their learning. It might be some bad report cards, poor test scores, or simply struggling to wrap their heads around certain maths processes. Whatever the reason, you should try to help your child’s confidence grow rather than see them become disheartened.
If they start to feel that they just can’t do something, that’s where their effort will start to drop off and so the cycle begins. Lack of effort leads to even worse marks and more difficulty understanding their work.
Quality tutoring should be all about building a child’s confidence. Once they start understanding things better, their results will improve, and even a slight improvement in test scores can be extremely motivating for a child to keep working hard.
Busting the Myth That Your Child Isn’t Good at Maths
If your child seems resigned to the fact they’re good at some subjects but maths is something they just can’t do, this is simply a lack of confidence. Kids who aren’t naturally skilled with numbers can find maths difficult, but it doesn’t mean they can’t improve.
With some hard work, confidence in their abilities and encouragement they can improve their maths skills. Everybody has things they’re naturally good at and others they find difficult. It’s very normal, but it just means a little more effort is required to improve certain subjects. Maths tutoring can start to rebuild that lost confidence so a child no longer things they ‘simply can’t do it’.
The Right Environment
Working in the right environment can go a long way to improving a child’s confidence. Sitting in a larger group just battling away on computer programs or worksheets is doing nothing to grow a child’s confidence. One-on-one tutoring can also make a child feel silly if they have trouble. As an example, Big Improvements Tutoring uses a system of one tutor to two students. This allows children the right balance of one-one-one assistance and opportunities to work independently.
Giving children a safe, positive learning environment is a key to making them enjoy learning again and feel confident in their ability.
Now you know all there is to know about maths tutoring! At Big Improvements Tutoring we aim to provide a supportive, confidence-building environment where difficulties with maths can be caught early and fixed. If you think your child would benefit from positive, individualised tutoring, click below to book a free session today!