Math is a tricky subject for many students. The way it is generally taught doesn’t help, with so much emphasis put on processes and skill development. This leaves students with no in depth understanding of what they have leant, or the contexts within which to apply it.
Texts books are set up to teach students a skill, then allowing them to practice it. Once the skill has been mastered, the next exercise will teach another skill. Yes, there are application and problem-solving questions within the exercises, but students know that they need to apply the skill they have just learnt, as this is what the exercise was all about. As far as context and understanding go, many students are in the dark.
As a teacher and tutor of many years, I so often hear students say; “It’s easy until I do the test, and then I just don’t get it anymore.” If you think about the standard process of learning in Math through textbooks, it is obvious why this is all too common. Students learn skills which they know how to apply individually at the time of learning. Once the test arrives, all the questions are presented at once, requiring the use of a variety of skills, knowledge and understanding. As students have not had the chance to develop any contextual understanding of what they are learning, they have no idea which skills and knowledge to apply to each question.
Skills development is a fundamental part of learning Math, but it is also essential to reach a higher-level of understanding. This is a revision activity I use to help students contextualise their knowledge and develop a more in depth understanding of the unit as a whole:
To consolidate understanding of a unit of work
I recognise links between ideas
I can explain in detail how different ideas within the unit are related
Optional extension- I can provide examples which can be linked to the concepts and formulas presented.
Create cards or cut outs of all the keywords, formulas and concepts learned within a unit. This activity will work with most units of work, though it suits some more than others. The example I provide is triangle geometry and trigonometry. This is learnt as a part of a broader geometry unit in senior school General Mathematics in Victoria, Australia.
As you create your cut outs, take into consideration the level of understanding your student(s) have, along with time constraints. For very capable students, you may like to leave out some cut outs and ask them to add in missing formulas or concepts. O the other hand you might like to simplify this activity for less capable students by targeting a narrower range of concepts and giving considerable support.
This lesson creates not only a physical map of the unit, but also helps students to categorise and classify information in their own minds. Suddenly, all the skills learned can be grouped and classified. Furthermore, these groups may also be related.
This is just one mind mapping technique which will work as an invaluable revision tool, not only for Math exam revision, but many other subjects as well.
The cost of private tutoring varies depending on a number of factors. Tutoring as a profession requires no accreditation. This means, that anyone can say that they are a tutor, for any subject, and at any level. This is problematic for several reasons: Firstly. they may not have adequate subject knowledge, and secondly, they may not have the teaching skills and knowledge required.
Here is some information about different types of tutors and their approximate costs:
High School Graduates:
These tutors have finished high school in the last few years. They are likely to have knowledge in the subjects they are offering tutoring for. Many of them have received top grades in their VCE. However, they may lack teaching ability and may also struggle tutoring low achieving students. Many high achievers struggle to break concepts down to their basic components, as the understanding comes so naturally for them. High school graduates normally charge anywhere from $25-$50 per hour.
Undergraduate students, studying to become teachers:
These tutors are far more capable in their teaching capacity. Not only have they recently finished high school, they are currently studying to become teachers. They are learning about various teaching techniques and undertaking placements in schools. Undergraduate teachers cost between $40 and $70 per hour in my experience.
Qualified teachers having finished their teaching degree, specialising in one or two subjects. They may be employed within a public or private school. Qualified teachers have knowledge of a wide range of teaching techniques and up to date knowledge of the Victorian Curriculum and VCE curriculum. Qualified teachers are hard to find as tutors, as they are normally teaching in schools full time. They normally charge $60-$90 per hour.
Qualified Teachers with specialist knowledge:
This is the top pick for a tutor. Not only are these teachers qualified and experienced, but they have recent experience in the exact subject area you require help in. So, if you are struggling with Maths Methods for example, a tutor with specialist knowledge would have taught Maths Methods within the last few years. This gives them an in depth knowledge of the subject matter, an understanding of the exam structure and focus assessment areas. Specialist teachers generally charge $75-$100 per hour.
Of course, other factors also come in to play. As a tutor of many years, I also charge different amounts depending on my travel time. This is for two reasons. The first, is that my travel is causing wear and tear on my car, and I am using petrol, but the main reason is that I am not earning money in that time. Earlier this year, I was tutoring 5 students in one day, but it was taking 8 hours in total. When you only work for one hour at each place, travel is a significant factor. Some tutors, who work from home, may charge less as they do not have to travel at all.
If you’d like to see improvement in your child, our recommendation is to spend a little extra to get an appropriately trained tutor who will be able to effectively teach all concepts and bring about understanding. To find out about our maths tutors and costs, contact us today or click here to learn more!
So you’ve noticed your child is struggling with maths, or perhaps they’ve been getting unusually low grades on their texts and quizzes. The first reaction of many parents is to search for a qualified maths tutor on the web or to check local classified ads.
That’s actually the most ideal thing to do. With the help of a professional maths tutor, amy students increase their knowledge and understanding difficult math concepts. A tutor can guide them through complicated math problems and revision techniques so they can be more at ease when the big exam day comes.
However, choosing an excellent maths tutor is no walk in the park, so we have laid out the steps you need to do to find an ideal tutor for your child:
Step 1: Identify your child’s learning preferences, strengths and weaknesses
We all accept that our child is unique, and they have their own learning preferences, strengths and weaknesses. That is why you need to talk to your child and watch them work. Try and understand how they learn, as well as the concepts they are having difficulty with. It would also be good to know their study habits to pinpoint the problems they may be encountering with homework.
Step 2: Ask other parents for recommendations on local private maths tutors
Another thing you can do is to ask for recommendations from your neighbours and friends especially if their child has a private tutor. They can provide you some feedback on several tutors on your neighbourhood and which one might be the best for your child.
Step 3: When you contact tutors ask a question about their level of experience, qualification and teaching style
When you’ve already reached several tutors, it’s best to ask them about their educational background and their level of experience in teaching maths. It’s also essential to check their qualifications and know their teaching style.
All these can be achieved during the interview process, and this will give you an idea if they can be compatible with your child. Usually, the best tutors are teachers or those who are training to become teachers.
Step 4: Invite the tutor for a paid trial
Lastly, you can ask the tutor for a paid trial session, since this will help you determine if he or she is a good fit for your child. Usually, during the first three sessions, you will already have a glimpse of their teaching style and how they’ll be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your child.
However, if you can’t find any compatible, qualified and experienced tutors through recommendations, you can contact Maths Tutor Melbourne. In fact, we have a team of qualified and highly experienced tutors who can help your child with the Victorian Curriculum.
Most importantly, we come to your home so your child will be in a familiar environment, and this will help them focus more on learning difficult math concepts. We all know that math is a tough subject for many students in Melbourne. That is why we design our program based on the needs of your child.
With a variety of education options available in Melbourne, sometimes it is hard for parents to choose what is right for their child’s development. The three most common options are:
School Based Tuition:
As a teacher, I often ran these types of classes for students. There was normally one day per week during a lunchtime or after school. In theory, these classes are the perfect budget friendly option. Students will come with their questions; teachers help them and they gain knowledge and understanding. In reality, these sessions were rarely successful for a number of reasons:
Private Tuition Centres:
Private tuition centres develop a curriculum for each year level which intends to marry nicely with the Victorian Curriculum. They run classes based on this curriculum. This is problematic for the following reasons:
Private in home tuition:
Private in-home tuition is by far the best choice you can make for your struggling student. Not only do students bring along their questions and concerns, tutors can then build on their misconceptions through a variety of targeted activities, reaching the desired deep level of understanding. Students are likely to develop a positive professional relationship with their tutor, resulting in increased engagement, confidence and enjoyment. The only downside to this option is that it is more expensive.
Private Tutoring Case Study
I started tutoring a local boy pretty recently for year 9 maths. His mother did her research before deciding to choose a private tutor for her son. A local tuition centre was an option at the time, but her gut told her that it wasn’t a good choice. He is struggling in his classes at school, why would putting him into another class environment be likely to help?
And she is right. This boy is a very capable maths student. He works with me well and his grades have increased significantly. He doesn’t really get along with his maths teacher and is not engaged in class. He therefore spends a lot of time chatting to friends, rather than focussing on his work. In a tuition centre, this child would be placed once again into that classroom environment. The teacher would work through some curriculum which may or may not be of interest or benefit to him, and he would likely disengage once more.
Through private tuition, I can directly target his interests, strengths and weaknesses. We develop his skills in a variety of ways and conceptualize his knowledge through mind mapping strategies and mixed problem solving. Rather than feeling like a failure when he makes mistakes, we use his mistakes as an opportunity to further his development.
Recently, he had a test result come back much lower than expected. After a quick analysis of the test, I was able to see that there were just two concepts, from the entire unit of work, that he was struggling with. The poor grade was a result of the test being so heavily focused on these concepts. In communicating this alone, his confidence began to rise. Then, after consolidating his understanding of these concepts in just one session, he was excited and confident for the upcoming end of year exam.
A private tutor really can be the difference your child needs for their confidence, understanding, results and enjoyment at school.
Being involved in your child’s education is essential to their success at school. In fact, if your child is having trouble with their homework and you’ve noticed that they are having difficulty with particular subjects, it’s your duty to help them learn good study habits and correct problems to prevent new ones.
This is relatively true not only for kids in Primary School but also for older kids who don’t ask for help when it comes to their assignments. As a parent, you should determine if your child is struggling with their academics and ensure that they develop good study habits.
There are several reasons why your child may be struggling with their homework and this will include the following:
4 things parents can do to help
The worst thing you can do when your child is having a problem with their homework is to punish, nag, threaten, or by doing the work for them. This will only make things worse, and it will hurt your child’s enthusiasm. It may even affect their academic performance in the long run.
Another thing we can suggest is to hire a qualified private tutor who can provide direct, targeted and intensive teaching in the comfort of your own home. Our mathematics teachers service the Melbourne area. In fact, a tutor can help your child develop good study habits that will lead to better performance at school.
Mind mapping is a powerful revision tool for sorting, linking and grouping ideas. When done correctly, it enables students to organise and understand concepts and ideas presented.
One of the reasons that mind maps are so effective is due to their visual nature. These tools allow students to organising and present information in a way that is creative and visual.
Research has shown that visual learning helps students engage with the concepts being presented and increases retention of the information significantly. Conceptual and higher order thinking is enabled through a clear visual which is easier to understand and remember.
The benefits for visual processors are further heightened, as mind mapping tools suit their unique processing needs.
Another invaluable benefit of mind mapping is that it is open ended in nature. High ability students can bring in additional features to their map such as colour coding, more in depth explanations on their links, examples of each of the ideas presented and abstract ideas. In contrast, low ability students can create maps that are more liner in nature, with less detail.
The more responsibility you give students with their work, the more engaged they may become, with a real sense of pride for their final product. You might start by scaffolding a few lessons with specific maps and ideas to start with, or perhaps a template for students to follow. Once students have demonstrated an understanding of the process and become more confident, you might even get to the point that they choose their own map and complete it completely from scratch!
Here are some different types of mind maps and when they can be used.
2. Flow Charts
Flow charts are great to present linear or cyclical processes visually, as one idea flows to the next. Like the water cycle for example, or a set of steps within a procedure.
3. Brain Storms
I really like brainstorms for the beginning of a topic. And, it is interesting to compare the brainstorm at the beginning to the concept maps at the end, demonstrating how much we are leant throughout a unit of work. A brainstorm generally consists of a central idea surrounded by words which would be considered as smaller components of that idea. Like this:
4. Concept Maps
Concept maps are by far the most popular mind mapping technique and are a great revision tool in Maths. As a Maths tutor Melbourne, I use these all the time with my students as we prepare for tests and exams. They can be used to sort, group, link and organise range of interconnected ideas giving students a visual big picture of an entire unit. Throughout a topic, students learn a variety of concepts and skills. Creation of the concept map allows them to investigate how each idea relates with the others and how they can be used simultaneously.
The most well known example of this would be a family tree. But a tree diagram can be used in a variety of other ways as well. Perhaps a history lesson could use a tree diagram to show different types of battles and their unique features, stemming from the root term “War”.
These look a little like a table at first, but are not quite as linear in their functionality. Matrices are a little like brainstorms but with a more direct focus on a variety of ideas. My example below focuses on students learning synonyms to help with problem solving in Maths. I would instruct students to fill in the boxes surrounding each word with synonyms.
As you can see, there are a range of mind mapping options for you to try. The few I have listed are some of the most popular, but thee are many other options also available. Some will suit different lessons, topics and subjects better than others, but you will soon see how they work and how much understanding they can bring to your students!
The Victorian Curriculum was developed with the intention of every student learning all the required subjects set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. This occurs during their first eleven years of schooling. The curriculum would include a set of common knowledge and skills that are meaningful for students including:
Government schools in Australia educate about two-thirds of Victorian students along with the other third from other independent schools.
The Maths curriculum in Victoria
The Mathematics curriculum is focused on developing students to understand and apply refined and sophisticated mathematical concepts. Students are expected to develop their maths skills to make informed decisions and solve problems efficiently in both school and real-life setting.
However, many of the more advanced skills taught within the curriculum are not understood deeply enough for students to apply them contextually.
Under this curriculum, various components of mathematics, including different concepts are interrelated and dependent on each other, so each concept must be learned thoroughly before moving on to more advanced topics. A major issue with the standard textbook classroom, is that each skill is taught individually and then not explored more deeply. Many students do not understand when and how to apply this skill outside the textbook exercise they just completed.
Teachers are responsible for explaining these difficult concepts in school under strict time constraints, and this is becoming a challenge that is hard to overcome for students and teachers alike in Victoria.
Problems I have identified as a teacher in a public school
Teachers are limited by the loaded curriculum and therefore forced to rush from topic to topic, without knowing if the students have understood all the concepts at hand. Each skill is skimmed over, then it’s time to learn the next. When the test arrives, and students are required to apply a variety of skills, they really struggle to understand and answer the questions. As we rush through each topic and some students fall behind, they can lose motivation. It can be tough to get back to their desired level of mathematical understanding.
These students tend to be confused and stressed out, which leads to avoiding all activities pertaining to maths, including their homework.
I once taught in a program for students who had a desire to focus more on mathematics and science than many of their other subjects. This gave us additional time each week for our maths classes. It was so refreshing and rewarding to be able to plan and implement lessons in which students explored concepts deeply. Whether through practical investigation or research and analysis, students gained invaluable understanding.
I’m not saying that all students should be forced to spend more of their class time on maths. What I am saying is that perhaps the curriculum needs an adjustment. Remove some topics, create a two year program, combine some necessary skills. I don’t know exactly how it would work. What I do know, is that the current content and structure is not working for most students.
What you can do for your child?
If you think your child is one of the members of the class that are being left behind or aren’t getting the results they desire, then we recommend that you find a qualified tutor to help them gain their confidence back and keep up with their class. If you are looking for private tuition for maths in Melbourne, then our team can help you out.
Overall, tutors can provide targeted, direct and intensive teaching that boost their understanding of difficult concepts. An experienced tutor can also pin-point misconceptions and misunderstandings and correct them during their session.
It is also more convenient since the tutor will go to your home and it is even more effective since your child is in a familiar environment. With the right tutor and hard work, your child is likely to reach their academic potential.
You believe your child can do well in school, but his or her latest report card says otherwise. You may have noticed a sudden decline in their test scores. These may be signs that they are struggling academically. Your first option is to communicate with the teacher so they can point out what subjects your child is having difficulty with or other issues that may have arisen.
Their teacher can also provide some info on when your child’s attention has been drifting, and the reason for their lack of focus. It is essential for you to know why they lack the enthusiasm to study and excel at school. However, slipping grades is just the tip of the iceberg because there are other signs to look for when they have a problem with their academics.
The pros and cons of helping them on your own
As a parent, your initial reaction is to invest some time and effort in helping your child with their studies, and this could mean tutoring them personally at home. This can be beneficial since you’re not only teaching them with their most difficult subjects, but you are also improving your relationship with them, and that could have some positive impact in the long run.
This is not always the ideal thing to do. You may not be able to clearly and accurately explain these concepts to them and sometimes more tension in your relationship arises. This could do more harm than good, since they will be more confused, and this could also affect their enthusiasm.
When it is time to hire an expert tutor
If you feel you can no longer manage your child’s homework and there are scheduling conflicts within your household, then it’s time to seek the help of a professional tutor who can help your child with their challenging projects and homework.
A qualified tutor can determine your child’s interests and strengths as well as their weaknesses. During their one on one session with your child, they can focus on improving these weaknesses and using effective teaching strategies they can also help your child understand difficult concepts resulting in better performance at school.
When you hire a professional tutor, you can also expect your child to improve their confidence and enthusiasm. Most importantly, they will be more prepared to tackle more advanced subjects as they move up from middle school to high school or higher. If you live locally, contact us to assist with your childs Maths tutoring needs in Melbourne.