Q&A #3626

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Math Frustration, Puberty

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From: Loyd

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002021012:39:02
Subject: Math Frustration; Tutoring at Home

I have had experience tutoring my own child as well as other children
and adults.

The best situation is when the tutor can assess the students
capabilities and fill in where the gaps are.  For some this means
starting from scratch.  

Most of the time, the student or parent just wants you to tutor the
topics that have been assigned by the teacher.

My son at one time was failing or nearly failing algebra.  I decided
to tutor him by starting from scratch.  I used an older college
algebra book by Rees and Sparks.  This book didn't have lot of the
modern topics but was typical of the 1950 or so algebra books.  It was
fairly rigorous for an algebra I student.

My son complained about the tutoring, which is often the case when a
parent tries to help.  We managed to spend 1/2 hour or so two or three
times a week.  Starting from scratch, we covered maybe a third of the
book until my son rebelled so much that I decided to stop to keep
peace in the family. 

A strange thing happened.  His grades started to improve and he moved
up to the B and B+ level in algebra and remained there through algebra
II, geometry, math analysis and calculus.  Now he is an electrical

My son later told me that though he hated the Rees and Sparks book, it
was that book which caused him to get back on track.  The rigor of the
book was far above his high school book, but that helped him  to
understand with more depth.  

So, in my opinion, parents should do more tutoring early on in topics
that the student has skipped.  In other words, fill in the gaps in the
students math education. Get one or two appropiate grade level books
and start from scratch.  Don't worry about grades.  The grades will
improve later after the gaps are filled.

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