With Maths making up a large proportion of tutor requests we know it is a tough subject. Whether you are studying middle school Maths leading towards the IGCSE, the MYP or another programme, these tips can give you a helping hand.
Don’t get put off when you get it wrong
We all get Maths wrong, even the smartest Mathematicians do. So don’t get dragged down when this happens or when you just can’t get it right. Middle school Maths advances quickly! This can mean students find it harder to keep up with lessons get more questions wrong. However, learning Maths is a process and by making mistakes and figuring out the solution you learn more than you would by getting it right the first time.
Review your mistakes
So, if we learn more by getting a Maths problem wrong, it also means we need to go through our mistakes regularly. So review, review, review, each week if possible. Then review again at the end of a topic to ensure there are no areas of confusion or misunderstanding.
Just listening to the teacher in class will not be enough. Get involved. This means not only staying engaged and concentrated but also asking questions. For example, offering to work through examples with the teacher. If you don’t feel confident enough for that yet, then follow the work at your seat, working through what the teacher is explaining. Then try the problems you have done in class out-side school to reinforce what you have just learnt. This way it will stay in your long-term memory.
This sounds so obvious, but how many students put their phone away and ensure they will not be distracted before they start their Maths homework? Each time you are interrupted you have to re-start your train of thought. Less interruptions = less time spent working through the questions. This is perhaps more important for Maths than for any other subject.
Build on strong foundations
Primary school is about the basics, middle school is about making them into strong foundations for the final exam years. Gaps due to school absences, school moves, or changes of curriculum can make these foundations shaky. If you have moved school and are finding Maths lessons tough, talk to your teacher. They may find you have missed a crucial topic that the class you joined has already studied. Stay on top of work as you move through the topics. Don’t forget to ask for help if you need it.
Know when to call in the experts
Asking for help is important. We see students losing confidence in Maths fast. Far faster than in other subjects. This can lead to students avoiding Maths or not trying their hardest. You can find out more on Maths anxiety here. So, ask for help sooner rather than later. Start by asking your teacher, they will be happy to help. It doesn’t have to be during class time. If confidence is an issue, ask to see them in break time or after school.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your teacher, or you need more regularly help, it might be time to call in a tutor. Look for one with experience in the curriculum you are studying. For international students, make sure you tutor teaches Maths in the language you are being taught at school (even if this is not your mother tongue).
Parents – to help or not to help?
Parents often want to help, and these intentions are well meaning. However, there are a few watchouts. The first is that Maths teaching has changed a lot since we were at school. This means that explaining the methodology that you used could end up confusing a student who has learnt a different strategy. Also, helping can lead to friction with your child. Sometimes this stress gets too much and can create conflict in the relationship. If you reach this point, perhaps it is time to pull back and ask a teacher or tutor to help.
By Sara Lloyd
Sara has been an education consultant for TutorsPlus for over 10 years and is an expert on international education in Switzerland. She is also a parent of two lively children.
If you would like to contact Sara to answer your education-related questions, you can contact her at email@example.com.
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