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Tutoring Basic Maths

by danago
Tags: basic, maths, tutoring
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danago
#1
Sep18-08, 07:56 AM
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Hey all.
Ive just recently been asked to tutor a 12 year old (maybe 11?) in maths. I haven't yet started with her, but i have a session booked in for next week. I spoke to her dad, and she is apparently quite bad at really basic maths such as basic arithmetic. I dont know the details of what she is struggling with yet, but i'll soon find out.

Anyway, i usually tutor upper high school kids in the more advanced math classes, mainly calculus, so the students i help out are usually pretty fluent with the basics (well, in most cases). The youngest person i have tutored in the past was about 15 years old.

For me, tutoring this 12 year old is going to be something completely new to me. Teaching somebody the basics of fractions, adding, subtracting and multiplying is somewhat different to explaining concepts of differentiation and optimization. Im not really sure how to go about it.

Anyone had much experience with teaching maths in a similar situation; any tips and strategies that may have worked well, or failed, perhaps? Even if anyone knows of any good resources which may aid me in teaching primary school maths, id be greatly appreciative

Thanks in advance,
Dan.
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symbolipoint
#2
Sep18-08, 05:25 PM
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danago,
You really will need to read basic level arithmetic textbooks so that you see how the ideas & skills are formally instructed AND so you can determine some flaws in that instruction in order to instruct more clearly than what you find in those basic level textbooks. You WILL need to adapt to teaching the basic stuff to the 12 year old student.

Be sure that you use pictures and realistic items to help illustrate concepts - this is just as much useful for lower levels of instruction as for the higher levels at which you typically tutor.

You very well may be able to use concepts from "Algebra 1" in order to clarify concepts and skills, but avoid as much as possible directly saying the word, "Algebra" when you do this tutoring, since using the word too bluntly may scare either or both the student and the parents. (Unnecessarily, but still would likely scare them).

Another suggestion: Learn the meaning of "Lesson Plan", and resort to this to help you in tutoring this 12-year old.
Moonbear
#3
Sep18-08, 06:21 PM
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Consider using lots of visual aids. Pictures, a bag of dried beans to count, something accessible. If she still hasn't mastered basic arithmetic at her age, it may be that traditional teaching methods just don't work for her. It may also be that she has some form of learning disability that is as yet undiagnosed. Helping her understand the math in more visual ways might get around any issues she has with more abstract concepts.

A common thing people have trouble with in "basic arithmetic" are adding or multiplying fractions. I really don't know why, but I've encountered many students who seem to stumble with fractions (turn them into decimals and they have no problems), so this is a good possibility. If so, be prepared with something you can cut into pieces, even if it's just index cards or sheets of paper. Get more than one color so she can see where the different pieces each come from.

Howers
#4
Sep18-08, 07:07 PM
P: 444
Tutoring Basic Maths

Quote Quote by danago View Post
Hey all.
Ive just recently been asked to tutor a 12 year old (maybe 11?) in maths. I haven't yet started with her, but i have a session booked in for next week. I spoke to her dad, and she is apparently quite bad at really basic maths such as basic arithmetic. I dont know the details of what she is struggling with yet, but i'll soon find out.

Anyway, i usually tutor upper high school kids in the more advanced math classes, mainly calculus, so the students i help out are usually pretty fluent with the basics (well, in most cases). The youngest person i have tutored in the past was about 15 years old.

For me, tutoring this 12 year old is going to be something completely new to me. Teaching somebody the basics of fractions, adding, subtracting and multiplying is somewhat different to explaining concepts of differentiation and optimization. Im not really sure how to go about it.

Anyone had much experience with teaching maths in a similar situation; any tips and strategies that may have worked well, or failed, perhaps? Even if anyone knows of any good resources which may aid me in teaching primary school maths, id be greatly appreciative

Thanks in advance,
Dan.
Ugh... let me just warn you when someone says their girl is bad in math they really mean it. I've had the displeasure of teaching some in the basics of algebra. The best thing is to try to get them out of that mentality, and encourage them in anything they do (except random guesses). I learned really hard I had the prof-syndrome, ie. I taught way too fast because the material is elementary and I personally don't remember struggling with it. So what I suggest is you take it REALLY slow and assign a modest number of questions. Follow a book, as making your own notes is a no-no. Do not merely work out examples for these kids, as it will teach them nothing. Have them be an active part of the solution once you've shown them how to do it.

Another thing is that they will find math pointless & frustrating, so you will need to find some basic applications (something more interesting than bottles in a box). A lot of repeation will be neccessary, and for that reason assign several basic problems. Also, don't expect them to read the textbook so basically read it out for them (not word for word, but just present it).

I'd rather be in a differential geometry class than to teach another weak math student
/shudder
danago
#5
Sep18-08, 07:40 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. greatly appreciated. Does anyone have any suggestions for a book i could follow? Ive had a look through my old lower school textbooks, but couldn't find anything dating back that far.
Moonbear
#6
Sep19-08, 07:31 AM
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Quote Quote by Howers View Post
Another thing is that they will find math pointless & frustrating, so you will need to find some basic applications (something more interesting than bottles in a box).
Yes, this is often true as well. Though, I'm not always sure if it's so much that they really don't see how it's relevant as that they may have thrown that up as a defense mechanism when they started to do poorly and fall behind. It's easier to say it's not important and then not bother trying anymore than it is to admit to oneself that they're struggling with something everyone else finds simple.

Some real life examples that might help make it relevant...make up a fictitious series of transactions and teach her to balance a checkbook.

Another example that allows for practicing a variety of skills...tell her she's hiring a contractor to do some work for her, and she needs to check that he's not ripping her off on the estimate. Give her the dimensions of a room, and have her calculate how many square feet of flooring material will be needed (as she gets better, you can bring this up a bit harder, and a bit more realistic, by telling her the dimensions of a floor tile, and having her calculate how many whole tiles will be needed to complete the job...make the dimensions of the room not add up to whole tile amounts). You can give another example that she's getting a fence installed, give her the dimensions of each side of the yard and have her add up the linear feet of fence required. That's a more simple one. To raise it to another level from addition to multiplication, tell her she's now working for a housing developer, and the contractor will be putting up fences on all the properties in the new development...once she's figured out the length of fence for a yard, tell her how many yards need fences and to figure out the total fencing to order. If she gets stuck doing the multiplication, show her how to add the numbers (I suggest keeping the number of yards low at first ) so she understands that multiplication is just a shortcut for addition.

As you learn more about her interests, you can tailor these questions to those. If construction and balancing checkbooks don't appeal to her, and she's more interested in something like fashion, make the problems about buying yards of fabric for a gown she's designing. If she's into more active sports, make the problems about things like lengths of rope for safety lines in rock climbing, or cubic yards of gravel to line a trail in a park she's volunteering to help clean up. If she's more into parties and a bit flighty, maybe make the questions about how many pounds of deli meats to order for a party of a certain number of people when each is expected to eat a certain amount.

I would also avoid writing out these as word problems. For some reason, students having trouble in math freak out at word problems, even when they are used to show the real world applications. Instead, just explain the problem to her as you go along.

And just remind yourself repeatedly not to get frustrated! At this stage, she may have a really fixed mindset against math that will be hard to overcome, so it could require a LOT of patience to break through that. Letting any frustration show through will only fluster her more.
Redbelly98
#7
Sep19-08, 08:53 AM
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As Howers said, take things slow. And make sure she "gets it" before moving on to new topics. Have her get to where she can work through an example problem without help.
danago
#8
Sep22-08, 03:31 AM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. Ive found a few sites with premade worksheets which ive printed (with applied math questions we can go through), but i wont know until wednesday exactly what it is she is struggling with. I think i'll try to suss out exactly how much help she needs when i see her, and then definitly look into buying a textbook i can follow.

Thanks again everyone
thrill3rnit3
#9
Sep24-08, 10:37 PM
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start with the basics. throw in a lot of problems until she masters it, then move on to the next topic. no need to rush things.
danago
#10
Sep27-08, 09:02 AM
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Quote Quote by thrill3rnit3 View Post
start with the basics. throw in a lot of problems until she masters it, then move on to the next topic. no need to rush things.
Yea thats the plan really, im going to go through heaps of problems with her until i feel she understands it :) Ive met her once since i started this thread so ive gotten a pretty good idea of what level she is at.
JANm
#11
Oct27-08, 08:40 PM
P: 224
Quote Quote by danago View Post
Hey all.
Ive just recently been asked to tutor a 12 year old (maybe 11?) in maths. I haven't yet started with her, but i have a session booked in for next week. I spoke to her dad, and she is apparently quite bad at really basic maths such as basic arithmetic. I dont know the details of what she is struggling with yet, but i'll soon find out.

Anyway, i usually tutor upper high school kids in the more advanced math classes, mainly calculus, so the students i help out are usually pretty fluent with the basics (well, in most cases). The youngest person i have tutored in the past was about 15 years old.

For me, tutoring this 12 year old is going to be something completely new to me. Teaching somebody the basics of fractions, adding, subtracting and multiplying is somewhat different to explaining concepts of differentiation and optimization. Im not really sure how to go about it.

Anyone had much experience with teaching maths in a similar situation; any tips and strategies that may have worked well, or failed, perhaps? Even if anyone knows of any good resources which may aid me in teaching primary school maths, id be greatly appreciative

Thanks in advance,
Dan.
First abstraction of a mathematician is with-holding the units. I read in the thread: take a sack of beans, but notion of quadratics and cubics are learned bij surfaces and content. The m^2 and M^3 as units and their related factors dm^2 and liter is most interesting.
Also after I have asked 37*24 I make a division of the answer devided bij 37 (or 24) it is nice to notice when the pupil finds this out...

See you.


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