How much paper do you use?
There has been a positive movement to reduce/recycle/reuse that I have seen taken to heart by the students I work with. However as students progress in math they need to let go of previous ideas held about fitting each homework assignment onto a single sheet of paper. I remember my 10th grade math teacher Mr. Saltzman who wouldn't accept any assignment unless there was a blank line between each problem, no writing in the margin, and two empty lines at the top and bottom of each page. Contrast that image with what I often see: students trying to do a 6 step problem all on one horizontal line, no space between problems and/or small illegible writing. When you go shopping for those notebooks at the beginning of the quarter, semester, or year pick up the 5 subject-perforated-college ruled ones. These hefty notebooks are not to be used for 5 different subjects but rather dedicated just for math. In this way you can stretch out and allow yourself plenty of physical and mental space to complete those assignments. Furthermore, you will have the space to be more organized and can see where you are making errors and correct them. Then at the end of the year if you choose not to save your notebooks you can always RECYCLE them!
Pressure vs. Encourage?
The first quarter has come and gone, grades are posted and the dust has settled. Where does your child stand? Lower marks than you had hoped? I've been asked by a number of parents lately to convince their student that they can and should do better. This is a very tricky situation more so than most parents realize. Why? Many students are working at their capacity, others are very sensitive to anything perceived as criticism, and still others may already be resistant to receiving outside help. All of these reasons and more put me in a very precarious situation. If I press too hard students may shut down never again to be very receptive to the help or advice I offer. Press too little and parents may be unsatisfied with the service I offer. What to do? I always go back to what I feel works which is the following: I encourage, then encourage some more. When a student is successful I praise them, when they are wrong I offer suggestions for improvement. I want students to look forward to their tutoring sessions not dread them. My aim is to increase self confidence and mathematical competence through my unique approach which is different from perhaps a boss', coach's, or even a teacher's approach. I received a nice testimonial last year from a family who praised me for, 'Creating a conducive space for learning.' which is actually what I consciously aim to do through building a repoire with the student, gaining a student's confidence in my teaching style, etc. All of which can be easily lost through a well meaning but too heavy duty an approach. If you are looking for someone who can help your child navigate Mathematics with an accentuate-the- positive persuasiveness I'd be happy to help.
Mario shares his various math teaching insights gained through his many years of individualized tutoring on his blog at www.mariosmathtutoring.com He can be reached through his website to schedule private tutoring sessions.
What Your Student May Be Missing
Some curriculums emphasize a process oriented approach through practiced repetition while others aim to give students an experiential approach to learning through a self-discovery of math's underpinnings. Both methods can leave students lacking the skills to effectively use math. If your student finds themselves feeling like a machine cranking out problem after similar problem make sure they are doing more real-life application exercises followed by doing some writing on why a given process yields a given result. On the other hand, if your child has a general sense of the magnitude of numbers, spatial relationships, and the connection between similar figures make sure they know their multiplication tables, can add/subtract/multiply/divide fractions, as well as graph lines, etc. In conclusion, you want to aim for a balanced approach: an overall understanding of why math works the way it does as well as having the process-oriented skills to execute and solve those math problems.
Helping students succeed in math for over 15 years. Individualized attention makes the difference!