We work with many students who’ve struggled in math, sometimes for years. During a first session, many say they’re fuzzy on a certain concept, that they often forget how to do certain kinds of problems, or that they just hate math.
This usually means that there are gaps, either small or large, in the student’s foundational math skills. While a few holes may not have much impact on grades or performance, they can accumulate over time and become real obstacles, especially in more challenging middle and high school math classes.
If your child struggles with homework, gets poor grades on tests, or says they hate math, taking a math diagnostic is a first step to getting them on the right track. It helps us pinpoint what’s causing difficulty, and enables us to create a customized plan. Even students who’ve told us they hate math have gone on to say after a few months that it’s become their favorite subject!
How Do Math Gaps Develop?
In school, teachers cover a large amount of material very quickly. If your child doesn’t master the skill the first time through, chances are good it will pester them later. Maybe they were out sick for a few days, or they were tired or distracted during a key class. It may be that they just need more time to practice, or need the material presented differently. Perhaps a learning disability affects their progress. Whatever the case, in most math classes, each unit is a building block for the next, so missing a few of those early lessons can derail students when they get to more challenging problems.
How We Can Help
We’ve found that customized, one-on-one instruction makes a huge difference for students struggling in math. During sessions, tutors use several strategies to make sure math instruction is fun, focused, and tailored to each child’s needs:
- Math skills “T” chart: We identify and track specific math skills that each student needs to work on. Some require a brief refresher, while others need significant re-teaching. This allows your child to master a wide variety of skills, including those they find most challenging.
- I do, we do, you do: This lesson structure ensures that students truly master a concept. First, we model a new skill by showing the student how to complete a few problems. Then we work through a couple more together. Finally the student completes several problems on their own. This is a great way to help students build confidence and gradually increase their proficiency!
- Looping: This is one of our most effective strategies and is a fun and fast-paced way for students to both master foundational skills and learn new concepts. Tutors thoughtfully choose a few types of math problems and present one question at a time to students to solve. They adjust the level of difficulty as they go, so students are always working on math that is just challenging enough to be interesting but not so difficult that it’s frustrating. As a result, students are engaged, interested, and constantly feel like they are making progress!
If you think your child may need additional support in math, give us a call!