Many kids and even some adults have trouble with maths. In fact, maths work and upcoming assessments can cause anxiety for many students. When maths becomes a struggle, how can parents help their children improve their confidence, as well as skills and understanding?
Helping our child with maths is not always easy, but even if you are not the best at maths, there are methods that you can use to help your child improve their skills. Here are some of our recommendations.
Start in your home
It is normal to feel frustrated, especially when you see your child is struggling with math. Sometimes it helps knowing you are not alone. Many parents and are not confident in their ability to help their child with maths, and the persistent lockdowns and online learning can often make our relationships fragile, and our levels of frustration heightened. It is essential for both parents and children to adapt to the new normal, which often means taking a break, self-care and family connection become the highest priorities.
However, if your child is struggling with their schoolwork, there will be times when you are both in the right headspace to tackle the problems together, and hopefully come up with some accurate solutions. Even naturally talented students sometimes have a hard time with certain concepts and problems in maths. The most important thing to remember is that kids need support to develop confidence and to become engaged with their work. After that, the skills, knowledge, and understanding will develop too.
You may find it beneficial to analyse your child’s work and figure out where the gaps in their knowledge lie. For example, some kids may be great with skills, but they will struggle with word problems. Some kids have good analytical skills, but they fail to use the right method in solving a problem.
For some kids, the biggest challenge is having math anxiety and low self-confidence. They feel anxious about doing homework or taking math tests as they have an overwhelming fear of failure. In fact, they doubt their capability to improve, and their failure can get in the way of attempting their work.
Ways to help with maths at home
If your child is into sports, you can use football or basketball statistics or concepts to reinforce concepts and allow them to practice their skills. There are also several board games which can help young kids develop their skills in counting, addition and subtraction. Cooking or baking together could also help because you will need to measure the ingredients of the dish you are preparing.
There are several inexpensive tools that can make maths easier for your child. Try discovering items in your house that you can use to create graphic organisers or refer to your antique clock when teaching concepts about time.
You can even create an anchor chart to help them with multiplication or number lines to compare fractions.
Hiring a maths tutor
If your child is not responding well to your help, or if you feel overwhelmed by the level of maths understanding required, we recommend that you seek the help of a qualified and experienced maths tutor as they can provide one-on-one tuition in the comfort of your own home. Tutors can also see the gaps and tailor their lessons based on your child's learning needs. Find out here about the best time to look for a tutor.
Most kids start tutoring during the school year due to low grades or lack of confidence. The challenges that many kids face is a fast paced curriculum with little explanation of concepts or in depth problem solving tasks. This can be a challenging endeavour for many tutors.
That is why it is best to start tutoring during the summer because this is the time when tutors have maximum availability and can tweak some of the lessons that their students need the most without the added urgency and requirements of a typical school year.
How to know if your child needs a maths tutor
Even if your child has figured out the answers to their maths problem, you still need to determine their level of understanding of the concepts they are tackling, as well as frustration while they work through their homework. If you think that their homework becomes a long and drawn-out affair without much understanding, you may need to seek the help of a qualified maths tutor.
You need to understand that frustration is often the result of not mastering the basic foundations, which often becomes the cause of your child's struggles. Perhaps your child understands some of the basic skills but starts facing difficulties when required to answer more difficult math problems since they need more advanced skills and understanding.
When your child's grades slip to the point of extreme concern, or you feel like it's too big of a drop of his or her recent scores, then it's time to hire an experienced maths tutor.
How to find a good maths tutor
If you are planning to hire a maths tutor, then it's a good idea to ask your child's teachers in school because they might know someone who can effectively teach your child in this particular subject.
You can also ask your child's classmates, especially those who excel in maths, because they may already have a tutor helping them.
We have several excellent Maths tutors to choose from in various locations across Melbourne.
When to find a hire a maths tutor
Many tutors finish up with VCE students during November, and they might might have some available schedules during this month. Some are quickly booked out for the following year, but others may still have availability. You'll need to get in touch as soon as you can to secure a regular session for your child.
How often should your child have tutoring lessons?
It's recommended that you start with a weekly session to get your child acquainted with his or her tutor, then you add more if needed. The important thing is to build rapport between your child and the tutor so that learning will be much more effective.
How to get the most out of each tuition session
As a parent, you need to know your child's current skill level and knowledge when it comes to maths. Encourage your student to highlight certain questions and concepts to be addressed by the tutor during their lesson.
You can also require the tutor to help your child with all their homework or do some practice tests since this can give them an idea of where the problem areas are and how to address them.
Overall, a qualified math tutor can help your child improve their confidence and motivation in maths, while also helping to improve their grades, and provide them a better chance of achieving their academic goals.
When it comes to maths, many schools teach skills and tell students that they must memorise formulas, facts, and functions without any applicability, which is essential when they face real challenges involving maths.
In the real world, students are unlikely to have nice problems that can be tackled easily. Students will face complex math problems that require a lot of preparation. That is why educators should help and prepare their students by teaching them problem-solving skills. No doubt, maths is not an easy subject to teach, and you can read more about that here.
Why problem-solving skills are important?
Students develop problem-solving skills at different rates, so they must learn to tackle problems with creativity and resilience since they will also learn to cope with setbacks.
Problem-solving skills are important in maths and science, but people will to be able to solve problems when they face other complex academic subjects and interpersonal issues as they mature.
Why students struggle with problem solving in maths
The most significant issue while learning math is that students lack an in-depth understanding of the basic concepts. Students are often taught skills, and then it is expected they will be able to solve problems involving these skills. The problem is, they do not actually understand the concepts behind the skills they are learning. This becomes a significant issue, because no matter how they try to develop their problem-solving skills, they cannot solve even the less difficult maths problems they encounter without the basic understanding of the concepts.
Teachers must need to first lay down the foundation before moving forward. Just think of math as a building blocks, and if the foundation is not laid properly, the blocks will eventually fall apart.
How to assist students with problem solving problems
Teachers have different teaching styles and methods, but it is important for all teachers to help their students develop their creative thinking to quickly generate ideas, see things in a different way, or use materials in unique ways. Creative thinkers are also willing to take risk, to experiment and even make mistakes until they eventually solve the given problem.
It’s also essential for teachers to encourage their students to break down the problem into parts, so they can easily analyse them. They can then sort it, classify, and apply the concepts they have learned throughout the years.
How to incorporate problem solving into every lesson
Here is one idea that teachers could use:
For every maths lesson, start with an open-ended question that uses the skills that will be taught that day. This will give students the opportunity to read the question carefully and try to figure out what to do to solve the problem.
As students become interested and engaged with the problem, they will be more engaged with learning the skills and developing an understanding of their application.
Overall, we recommend that teachers incorporate problem-solving into every maths lesson because this will help their students become better mathematical thinkers.
In today’s world, we spend much of our time within an online community, spending vast amounts of time and completing many activities online. These include shopping, business transactions, banking, keeping in touch with our love ones, and even playing games. This breakthrough has led to the rise of online tutoring, as it offers many benefits to students, tutors, and parents.
Online tuition is an affordable and flexible solution as you are paying solely for the tutor’s expertise and time without having to cover travel expenses.
Why is online tutoring on the rise
Online tutoring is more affordable than other options, and the results are outstanding since professional tutors will often fine tune lessons based on the learning needs of their students.
Also, various tech gadgets can be used for tuition like laptops, tablets (iPads), and other mobile devices. A vast array of platforms have emerged which enable students and tutors to communicate during online tuition sessions just as they would during in home tutoring. The online classroom has a whiteboard on the screen which is used by both parties. Audio and video assist in the communication, and a variety of tools can be used to consolidate different ideas. The online classroom can also be used to share and work on worksheets, or work through past assessments.
Not to mention the recent pandemic that swept the world and the various lockdowns that came with it. In Victoria, we spent most of 2020 in lockdown, with all students learning from home. Tutors and students had no choice but to teach and learn online.
Why tutors prefer to work online
Online teaching provides teachers and tutors with greater flexibility, especially when addressing varying learning styles and assisting students in locations outside their local area. Tutors have greater flexibility when scheduling lessons, as they are working from the comfort of their own home.
Online tuition is a great way of earning a decent income especially if you’re a qualified teacher specialising in the exact subject area request by your students.
What benefits can online tutoring bring for students?
The most significant benefit of online tutoring is the process of finding a suitable tutor for your child. Tutors who work with students in their homes have travel limits for obvious reasons. It is difficult to find a tutor who services your local area, is currently available, and who can work effectively with your child. Therefore, online tutoring can provide unique learning experiences specifically tailored to their needs with specifically customised lessons and activities.
Tutors can help student improve their confidence, enjoyment and academic performance as they help with areas of difficultly and assists students in their preparation for exams and tests. They can also work with their student on specific problem areas, so your child’s understanding and grades are likely to improve over time.
Some disadvantages of online tuition
For some students, the biggest challenge of online learning is the struggle with focusing on the screen for long periods of time. Therefore, it’s imperative for teachers to keep their lessons engaging and interactive because this will help students stay focused on their lessons.
Another significant disadvantage to online tutoring is internet connectivity. A consistent internet connection is essential to online learning but is sometimes hard to come by. Slow internet connection and other technical difficulties is detrimental to the online education process.
Lastly, some students and parents’ value face-to-face interactions and feel more engaged and connected during in home tutoring sessions. Though it is important to consider online tutoring during lockdowns, illness and other periods of isolation, some families still choose in home tuition as their preference.
Overall, as technology advances further, remote tuition is likely to continue to grow and become more affordable in the coming years. Maths is certainly not an easy subject to teach, but the online platform and tools within certainly make it easier than ever before.
Whether you are a teacher, student or parent, you are likely to have your own opinions about the benefits and purpose of homework. Many educators believe that homework is essential since it bridges the gap between children’s learning at home and school. The theory is that homework will enable students to manage their time wisely and plan out their study schedules.
Time management is a useful skill to have, especially when they reach their senior high school years, university, or employment within the corporate world. Therefore, completing homework early in your child’s schooling years ensures that this task becomes a habit rather than being seen as an inconvenience.
Many teachers find it useful to track students’ progress via their homework submissions, making it easier to notice if a child is falling behind or lacking in understanding. Submitting homework will also develop a student’s character since it’s a good lesson in diligence and responsibility.
Disadvantages of homework
One of the most common arguments against homework is that it takes up rest and recovery time. School is an emotionally, socially, intellectually, and physically enduring daily task, and many students are exhausted in the afterhours. Many children who spend a lot of time with their homework miss out on family bonding time, socialising, chores and extracurricular activities which are also important for real life lessons.
For students in Years 11 and 12, it can be difficult to manage homework especially if they have part-time or casual work. Also, homework assigned during the holidays may cause severe stress for some students and may even lead to sleep deprivation issues.
How much is too much?
Homework can be categorised as a burden and no longer benefit students when it is not carefully planned and implemented. This usually happens when the homework is too challenging or overdone, causing many students to become frustrated and give up.
Teachers can customise a homework based on the age of their students. For ages 10, it is advisable to use other forms of media like a video reference of the topics included in the homework. This will make it more engaging to the students since they will be watching a video rather than just reading a book.
For students ages 13, teachers must provide focused assignments since it is easier for their students to understand and complete. Homework should not reinforce or introduce too many ideas, because it is less likely to contribute to their learning. Not to mention that 13 years old kids haven’t developed their abstract thinking yet, so they cannot handle too many concepts at once. This is particularly true for some maths concepts, which are difficult to teach, let alone learn on your own.
Lastly, 16 year old students often get bored if all their homework is similar. Therefore, teachers must try mixing styles and approaches. This makes each assignment unique, engaging, and enjoyable.
How to motivate students both in class and at home
Teachers must design a balanced homework schedule and figure out ways to give students immediate feedback. This is relatively applicable for preschool and elementary students.
Teachers who are working with high school students must leverage homework to require students to read a chapter of a book at home, watch a video, create a second draft of an essay, or reflect on a topic recently tackled in the classroom. Homework tasks should be created in such a way that students can work through them without support.
Teachers can make homework less overwhelming when they give students flexibility on when they can submit their assignment. This will be beneficial for students in Years 11 and 12 since they can work around other commitments before completing their homework.
Some teachers choose to overextend students during class time, setting high volumes of work which, if not completed in class, must be completed for homework. This will motivate students to knuckle down during class time, so they have less homework. It sometimes helps to set fun and engaging practical tasks based on the topics already discussed.
Lastly, teachers should communicate with parents of students who are not completing their homework, so they can trouble shoot and problem solve ways to motivate and assist this student.
Overall, homework that is age-appropriate, relevant, and engaging can enhance learning and instil good study habits.
Probability is an important topic in mathematics since it explores collecting, describing, organising, and analysing numerical data. So, whether you’re trying to make sense of a weather report, election results, or product reference surveys, you’ll need a basic understanding of probability and statistics. In fact, students need to understand these concepts to help them judge the validity of an argument which is commonly supported by persuasive data.
High school probability requires students to learn and work with fractions and decimals, as well as developing an understand of various terminology and symbols. They must be able to apply the sum of probabilities to solve problems, while also identifying complimentary events. Students use and create graphical displays including venn diagrams, arrays and tree diagrams to solve various problems.
In addition, they must construct sample spaces for single-step experiments to get the ideal outcome. This means they must assign probabilities to the outcomes of events and determine their probabilities.
Lastly, students must learn how to compare and construct a range of data displays, including steam-and-leaf plots and dot plots. This will help them identify and investigate issues that involve numerical data.
Issues around the teaching of probability
Probability is often the last topic of the year, so many students are tired without the focus they had earlier in the year. Teachers often rush through this topic as time is running out and students are losing interest. Not to mention that students find it daunting to learn new symbols and terminologies.
Another issue is that most of the topics in probability are not linked or integrated, so it’s harder for students to retain the information.
How to help students learn and retain concepts within probability
Maths is definitely a tough subject to teach, but probability is one of the easier topics to make fun and engaging. Teachers can introduce games for the students to practice and apply their learning. This hands on approach will help students retain the skills and understanding required for successful completion of the game.
It is also advisable to group students together during games and problem solving tasks. Students can often learn more by actively working through problems with their peers. However, it is important to watch out for students who are not participating in the group. This situation can sometimes be avoided by assigning roles to each student in the group.
Following games, investigations and problem solving tasks, students can complete reflections or discussion questions. This will help consolidate their knowledge and give the teacher insight into their level of understanding.
Traditionally, maths had been taught in a conventional setting where teachers lecture the topic while students passively copy notes, and complete related exercises. They usually use short lessons with explanations and examples, followed by a request for students to read the textbook and answer problems. Teachers track their students' progress through quizzes and tests, which can easily be assessed.
It seems to be easier to teach maths to primary school students since teachers relate mathematical topics and concepts to real-life applications. They also give practical tasks which are more engaging and memorable, helping students have fun, while developing more understanding of the concepts being presented.
Maths in high school is different
Mathematics is a fundamental part of the school curriculum, especially in Australia, but it's also a unique subject since it's associated with other sciences. In fact, mathematics is used in every facet of life, but many high school students often dislike it because they believe that it's a complicated subject to learn, with of a lot of the concepts taught being useless.
We need to understand that learning maths is influenced by many factors, both cognitive and affective. Teachers also find it much harder to teach maths in high schools, as the real life applications of complex mathematics takes a long time to explore. Classes are simply not given enough time to develop in depth understanding through practical exploration. Therefore, students cannot see the connection of specific math topics to their daily lives.
Students find it difficult to consolidate their knowledge when they are taught skills as individual entities, never being shown how the individual parts work together in a meaningful way. In other words, maths is taught as a skills-based subject, without enough opportunities for integration or application. High school teachers are hard-pressed due to their constricted schedules, and they often rush through their lessons without checking if their students have grasped the concepts and understanding, not just the skills. This situation often leads to frustration and some students, especially those left behind, will not be achieve the results they are looking for.
How to make teaching maths easier
It is essential for teachers to collaborate with their colleagues and devise a better approach that they can utilise in their classroom. Something worth trying is called "inquiry-based learning," in which students are required to actively engage in problem-solving and discussion with their peers. This makes the process more interesting and practical for students, thus providing better learning gains.
Teachers must also be able to summarise and conceptualise the skills and knowledge required to tackle certain topics or concepts. Students can then be given problem solving application questions which incorporate a range of skills and concepts to practice integration and consolidate their understanding. It is advisable for teachers to give tests or assessments more often since this can gauge their students' progress and learning.
Overall, teaching maths can be quite challenging, but teachers can use creative and unconventional methods to make learning more engaging, especially if they're teaching high school students who struggle with mathematics. Alongside the difficulty of teaching maths comes the arduous task of learning it. If your child is struggling, it could be a good idea to get in touch with Maths Tutors Melbourne to learn about tuition options.
Making errors and trying new strategies are a natural part of the learning process in maths. However, if kids have an underdeveloped understanding of a certain concept in maths, like those in fractions, this may impede their progress.
Usually, misconceptions will not be corrected unless teachers and parents explicitly address them by instruction. Teachers need to be aware of misconceptions of their classes and individuals and then find an effective way to address them. Identifying misconceptions will require a purposeful diagnostic assessment and careful observation of what their students are thinking.
Common maths misconceptions in fractions
We understand that most kids find fractions particularly challenging. The main reason for this is that they compare fractions from the common kinds of numbers they often worked with. They often forget how fractions work and how to work with them effectively.
In fact, most misconceptions in fractions come from the fact that kids try to draw associations with natural numbers. Natural numbers are those positive whole numbers like 1,2,4,12,110,255,670 etc. These are the kinds of numbers that most of our kids encountered from a young age and they spend a significant amount of time in early education learning about these numbers.
Students often forget how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. There could be a few solutions to this dilemma:
Misconceptions in adding or subtraction fractions
A common mistake that kids often make is that they forget to find a common denominator before adding or subtracting fractions. In fact, they tend to treat the numerators and denominators as whole numbers.
Misconception: 2/3 + 5/6 = 7/9
The correct way is to add fractions by creating a common denominator and then adding the numerators. The right way of adding these fractions is written below.
Correct working: 2/3 + 5/6 = 4/6 + 5/6 with a total of 9/6 = 3/2 or 1 and 1/2
The same method applies to subtracting fractions. Many children make the mistake of subtracting the denominator as they would the numerators just like the example below:
Misconception: 5/7 – 1/4 = 4/3
You could address this misconception by finding the common denominator before subtracting the numerators, then just copying the common denominator to arrive at a solution just like below:
Correct Working: 5/7 - 1/4 = 20/28 - 7/28 to arrive at the solution of 13/28
Overall, this misconception needs to be continuously addressed and practiced so kids will know how to correctly add and subtract fractions. Now that school is running as normal in Victoria again, teachers will be able to more accurately address misconceptions within their classrooms.
In maths, an equation is a representation of two things which are equal, so it’s generally two expressions related by an equals sign. Equations can be solved using both symbols and numbers. When solving numerically, then only numbers are admitted as solutions. However, if you are solving equation symbolically then expressions can be used to represent the solutions.
What is the importance of math equations and why do kids need to learn it?
Equations are useful in daily life since various disciplines in the real world depend on maths and equations. Electricians, builders and engineers all use equations as part of their daily activities. Even every day tasks like doing the shopping require simple solving skills.
Computer chips and other modern gadgets/machines we use in our daily lives are based on mathematical equations and algorithms. Therefore, it is essential for kids to properly learn the concepts of solving equations.
Usually, math teachers instruct students to solve equations at grade school but even kindergartens can learn a bit of simple equation solving using basic arithmetic. The most important thing is for them to develop the skills they need to solve numerical problems using computational methods.
Kids are often given equational problems with a number missing, for example 50 + ___ = 90 – 2. Students need to be aware of the process involve in solving this problem and they must know how to use inverse. In fact, they must know what they should add to 50 to come up with 88.
Learning basic concepts is essential for students so they will be able to solve more complex quadratic equations as well as understand several topics like curve sketching and finding the maximum and minimum values of an equation.
Why do basic concepts get lost when more complex concepts are learnt?
Some students forget basic concepts when they are tackling more complex equations like quadratics. They often forget to use to use the both sides method as they are bombarded with the null factor law and the quadratic equation, along with various methods of factorisation.
We need to help student integrate what they learn from the past with the new methods they recently acquired. Therefore, teachers must be able to assess the current method they are using and remind them that they must also apply some basic concepts to solve difficult equations. I like to create a flow chart for my students so that they can learn when to use each method of solving depending on the question type. To simplify, I tell students that if only one term has the unknown, then the both sides method is the most simple and practiced method to use. If multiple terms have an unknown (for example; 5x and 2x2) the equation must first be made equal to zero, then factorised or put into the quadratic formula.
Students will master these methods through constant practice, so teachers must provide them with lots of opportunities to practice their skills conceptually.
Overall, students must understand the importance of basic concepts in solving equations. Maths continuously builds to new levels of difficultly but basic concepts are always still important to remember when learning more advanced solving techniques. Given that students have only just started learning in schools again, it is even more important to revisit the basics
Some parents experience an uphill battle when it comes to encouraging their child to improve their maths skills and understanding. You may need to engage your children at home by playing some active maths games, and I don’t mean apps or games on their mobile devices.
In fact, your kids will enjoy these games without even realising that they are learning some important concepts along the way. You may also customise most of these games based on what skills you want your kids to learn, so it wouldn’t hurt to pick a few to try. Your kids will beg for more once they try some of these maths games.
Overall, these games are engaging and fun and will teach your children some valuable maths concepts that they can use to improve their skills. Even though onsite learning has now resumed, experts are predicting that many students may have fallen behind with the events of 2020 lockdowns in Victoria, so extra practice at home will surely help your children get to the expected level.