Help with Algebra is one of the most common math tutoring requests we receive.
Algebra does not have to be as challenging as it looks. And the good news is for every problem there is always a solution.
Here are some strategies for students to succeed when they start to learn this topic:
1) Ensure you are strong with the math basics like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
2) Know your math order of operations with BEDMAS (B-brackets. E-exponents. DM-multiply or divide)
3) Understand the difference and impact of negative numbers with arithmetic.
4) Keep word problems organized with these strategies
5) Look for non-number symbols like x,y,z, etc, which are called variables. Although they look scary, variables are mainly a way to show numbers where the value is unknown. Try to visualize that some number is in the variable’s place and your goal is to solve it. Other variables like pi (π) are constants.
6) If a variable appears multiple times, try to simplify it like they are numbers. For example: y + y = 2y. The only caveat is you do not combine variables that are different. For example A + B does not equal 2AB.
7) Try to isolate the variable as best as possible through adding or subtracting similar numbers to both sides of an equation.
8) Use checks to ensure your work is correct. The best way to do this is plug the answers for your variables into the initial equation(s) and see if all of the equations equal each other. If not, review your problem again to see where you may have made an error.
When parents contact us for tutoring, one of the most common requests we receive is for support in Math. Along with practice, reviewing the concepts and tutoring, Math Apps are a great way for children to learn in a fun way. They also help reinforce ideas and concepts with different approaches and ideas.
Below are 5 Math Apps we would recommend for students of various ages. These Math tools are a great starting point to learn numeracy, arithmetic, geometry and algebra and we recommend you add others to your collection.
Let’s Do Math: Fun game to practice your addition and subtraction skills.
Math Drills: fun environment that allows students to learn basic math skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Motion Math Zoom: Master numbers, negatives, and decimals with this animal adventure! Motion Math Zoom features the world’s most interactive number line – kids have a blast exploring numbers as they gain a deep understanding of place value.
Elevated Math: Provides initial instruction or intervention on math topics that cover place value, estimation, large digit addition all the way through Algebra.
Math Ref: Contains over 1,400 formulas, figures, and examples to help your child with math. Use their expanding list of tools such as a unit converter, quadratic solver, and triangle solver to perform calculations.
With the back to school season in full swing, many students are beginning to receive homework and learn new skills. When parents call for tutoring, one of the most common questions we hear is: How can I help my daughter or son with math?
With that in mind, below are some great Math tips from our tutors designed for students of all ages:
Practice Makes Perfect
- Homework can be an opportunity for students to reinforce the concepts they learned in class. Schedule a regular time and location so your child develops a routine they are comfortable with.
- There are tons of excellent Math apps and games online to supplement learning in the classroom and help students of all ages learn different types of concepts
Connect Math with the Real World:
- Any opportunity parents have to emphasize math in the real world helps make the concepts more relevant
- For younger children: consider measuring ingredients, counting the time and tracking scores of favourite sports teams.
- For more older students: use algebra to figure out travel time, geometry for building projects and exponents for financial literacy.
Collaborate to Solve Math Problems Together
- There are often times multiple ways to solve a math problem. Be creative with your child to identify the different strategies they could use rather than focusing on the answer or a specific process.
- Encourage your child to ask questions to you and their teacher. Asking questions is an important part of the learning process and helps students build confidence.
- As your child makes an error on a test or homework assignment – use that as a learning opportunity. Work together to learn the logic behind the mistake and how the math problem can be done correctly in the future.
Ensure Students Have a Strong Base
- For younger students, use math apps and flash cards to practice areas like multiplication tables
- As students move into more senior grades, having a strong knowledge of prior math concepts like algebra becomes increasingly important
- As you are working with your child, challenge them to ensure they do not only focus on the answer, but what the answer means and the process they went through to calculate it.