One of the most common tutoring requests we receive relates to struggles with math and in particular, math anxiety.
For many students, doing math homework or the thought of writing math tests or exams can cause negative thoughts from the fear of failure. It can also lead to challenges with the disruption of working memory, which is key to succeed in math even at a young age.
Math anxiety can be caused by a number of things including:
Public fear: Having a bad experience answering a question incorrectly in class
Time pressure on tests or exams
Reliance on learning math through memorizing procedures rather than truly understanding the concepts
We asked our team of math tutors for their advice on how to succeed with learning, studying and writing math exams / tests:
1) Ask questions from your teacher or peers, whether it is in class or after school
2) Be consistent & persistent. Learn from mistakes and keep trying problems and questions that you have challenges in to learn. Working consistently on math will help to build a base of skills over time.
3) Start small: For the first couple of days spend 15-30 minutes on math and as you build confidence work on longer and more challenging problems.
4) Make math fun through interests. For example if a student likes sports, connect math to sports themes.
5) Practice regularly, especially if you are having challenges with a specific concept. Having worked through a specific problem or question in the past will help you succeed during test or exam time.
6) Last and more important, have a positive attitude and re-position challenges into positive experiences.
Fall is in full swing and that means the time-honoured tradition of Halloween is approaching. Whether is it trick or treating or getting dressed up, Halloween is a fun activities for any family.
It is also a wonderful opportunity to incorporate math learning opportunities.
Our team of elementary math tutors has put together this wonderful list of Halloween math games:
1) Candy Math Game: Place a small sticker at the bottom of the candy with a math question. You can vary the questions depending on the age of the student. Turn the candy over and if your child answers the question correctly, they get to keep the candy.
2) Use pieces of candy as math manipulatives can be a lot of fun. A complex concept can be a lot easier from being able to hold number concepts in your hand.
3) Sorting and Counting: For younger kids, have them sort their candy and then use it as an opportunity to learn how to count.
4) Guessing Game: Each person guesses how much candy they have in their bag at the end of the night. If you have enough people you can even graph it.
5) Pumpkin pie and fractions. Bake or purchase a pumpkin pie and slice it up to learn about fractions.
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.
As kids get back to school in January, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the first half of the school year and to make some educational resolutions.
In the new year, we usually start off with the best of intentions, but don’t always follow through with the resolutions we make. That’s why our team of tutors recommends continuing to engage your child and track their progress.
Here are some subject and skill specific ideas to help start 2017 off on the right foot.
Practice makes perfect – Math homework can be an opportunity for students to reinforce the concepts they learned. Schedule a regular time and location to develop a routine
Play Math Games to make learning fun. Here are some of our favourites
Use these helpful Math apps for enrichment or support learning in more challenging areas
Introduce Math into real life settings. For example: on the next drive learn about distance and time. Or during cooking time – learn about measurement.
Read with your child frequently and engage them by asking them to explain the story
Use flash cards to learn important words. Once your child gets comfortable, combine the flash cards to create common sentences
Label items around the house and practice reading them with your child
Sign up for a French enrichment March Break or Summer Camp
Watch online videos to sing songs and learn new vocabulary
Use sports make science fun and connect it with real life. Ie. hockey can be used to learn the Physics of friction and momentum or athletes’ nutrition can be used to learn Biology and the science of proteins, sugars and fats
Explore the world of science with these helpful apps for children of all ages
NBC Learn has wonderful videos to explain the science of everything
Organization, Time Management and Study Skills:
Use an agenda / planner
Make a consistent schedule
Provide a place to study with limited distractions and good lighting
Develop a system to track important papers / materials
Communicate with your child’s teacher on an ongoing basis
The summer break from is a wonderful time to have fun, play outdoors and take a break from school. Unfortunately, students can fall into the ‘Summer Slide’ from not being active in learning and lose their Math knowledge from the prior school year. Math doesn’t always have to be about worksheets and homework problems. Summer can be a time to make learning fun for children.
Here are 5 great ideas to share:
1) Make Math an Outdoor Activity: Why not enjoy the sun and learn as the same time. There a ton of great games to play and learn outdoors for a variety of different age levels. If your child loves colouring and art, don’t miss this list.
2) Use Real Life Examples: Show your children how important addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is to every day life. Next time you go grocery shopping, add up the items before the register. If you are going to the bank, learn about financial literacy and count your savings or withdrawals. Cooking or baking is a great time to learn about measurement. Any driving trip can be a lesson in distance, time and counting.
3) Play Math Games: There are ton of great games to help prepare your son or daughter for the fall. Below our some of our favourites:
Math Games / PBS Kids
What Coins Do I Have
Motion Math Games
Math Play – Online Games
Number of the Week
To see our full list with descriptions, click here
4) Lego: Everyone loves playing with Lego, but there are great ways to use it for learning. Lego teaches children fractions, arrays and mean, median and mode. To see how Lego can be used with fractions, click on the video below:
5) Math Apps: These are a great fun for children to learn in a fun and interactive way. Below are some of our favourites for students of all ages:
Let’s Do Math
Motion Math Zoom
To see our full list with descriptions and links, click here
Learning and developing Math skills is an important part of a child’s development and key to keeping future University or College opportunities available. Yet many students find math challenging to learn and may frustrated as they work through their homework questions.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Math can be fun for your child and also for parents as they help provide support. Here are some ideas to not only increase your child’s enthusiasm for math, but also build their skills for future success.
Make it Real Life: When reviewing math questions, change up the words to make it fun. For example, instead of using generic items like bricks, include fun items like cupcakes, baseballs, cars that your daughter or son will enjoy.
Include Math in Your Daily Activities: Math occurs everywhere in our daily lives. On the next road trip if your child asks when they’ll get there, mention the final time and ask how many minutes are left. Or for high school students provide the kilometers and distances and ask how long it will be until the destination. Another great opportunity is cooking. Ask your child to measure all the different ingredients needed to bake a cake or create the meal. Last, if your child loves sports use statistics like batting average, scores or goals.
Use Math Games: There are tons of math games available for children of all ages. With the increase in educational technology, there is no better spot to find fun and engaging math games than in apps for your computer or tablet. Fortunately, we have a great list of helpful math apps to learn numeracy, arithmetic, geometry and algebra. To see our list click here.
The Winter Olympics are an amazing time to step away from our day to day routine and support your country and favourite athletes. Whether it is bobsled, skating, skiing or hockey, every sport provides a ton of excitement to watch the top athletes in the world compete.
But behind the scenes what math, physics, biology and chemistry goes into to the athlete’s success in training and excelling at their sports?
Fortunately, the Canadian and US Olympic broadcasters, CBC and NBC through their Science Says and NBC Learn programs have developed some fun and interesting videos to learn about the science of the Olympics. We have noted our favourites below including the science topics they cover.
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.
When parents call us for a math tutor, this is one of the most common questions we hear.
Below are helpful tips for you and your children toward maximizing success in math.
Make it Fun with Real World Examples
There many examples to point out how math is fun in our daily lives. For younger children, use anything from counting items in nature to helping cook a meal or telling the time. For older students, there is a ton of geometry and algebra in trip planning, sports and playing games.
Focus on Math Concepts First
It is important that children initially focus on mastering the concepts versus memorizing rules or processes. This is relevant for younger children with learning the basics of numbers to older children developing an understanding of solving relationships and variables. Once children have a strong grasp of the concepts, we would then encourage them to work through additional questions or problems.
Use Strategies for Word Problems
When students encounter word problems, it is helpful for them to develop a set of strategies, which could include: drawing a diagram, jotting down a summary of the key points and reading the question several times.
Stay up to speed with the latest topics your child is covering. Your child’s teacher is an excellent resource if you are looking to stay ahead of the current material. There are also plenty of online curriculum resources through the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Toronto, York, Peel, Halton and Durham school boards.