Occasionally I come across a student that absolutely has a bad relationship with math. They don't believe they are capable of being good at math, they don't see the point in it, and they don't want to try and understand it.
I met with one such student recently. We went through the 'mechanics' of how to execute certain mathematical operations. We then took that one step further and discussed some real-life parallels and applications. We then repeated this pattern a number of times and then it occurred to me to ask this student, 'do you like math?'
Aha! Problem solved, or shall I say semi-solved. To make a long story shorter, I could try and teach, assist, and tutor this individual but without an internal shift my efforts would continue to be largely rejected.
My suggestions to a student and family such as this would be to first work on changing the student's relationship with math to more of a friendly one.
Second, there is talk these days of 'helicopter' parents. These are parents that are continually 'hovering' over their children too closely making sure all their i's are dotted and t's crossed, etc. There needs to be a shift in responsibility and accountability from the parent to the child. It may take some time but the parents need to empower the students to be more self accountable, self responsible, and to take pride in their own efforts to learn and manage their time and studying.
As a tutor, I aim to provide good quality instruction in a positive reinforcing manner. When I see obstacles to learning that go beyond just understanding math concepts I will tactfully mention these to parents. I always try to take a positive approach but some aspects of learning go beyond what I can personally provide.
I know of one tutor that won't tutor students unless the parents agree to make sure the students get 8 1/2 hours of sleep minimum per night otherwise he won't continue helping them. I haven't gotten this strict(...yet : ) ) but I do think it's important to continually look at all the factors that contribute to successful learning.
So, in conclusion, first check in with your child and see how they feel about math and their math class. Second, see if they are taking an active role in their own learning. Thirdly, look for other obstacles to successful learning such as lack of sleep, etc. Then allow tutoring to build on this excellent foundation.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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