When is the right time to look for a maths tutor? If internet searches are anything to go by, parents seem to worry about their child’s progress in maths more than they do in any other subject.
Perhaps parents’ own experiences of early maths could be the reason for their anxiety. It’s completely understandable that parents may be anxious as maths was taught entirely differently in the past. Today, maths is one of the most important subjects on the curriculum and experts agree that success in early maths is a predictor of later all-round academic achievement. What is Early Math and Why Should We Care? | (ams.org).
Early maths skills are vital
Founder of Elite Tutors, Karen Ormerod, confirms that foundation skills such as number bonds, numerical fluency, quick recall of basic facts, and times tables are key to maths.
‘If these aren’t in place, particularly by secondary level, then other, more challenging maths can be incredibly difficult. Students can slow down and quickly become disengaged. Maths is also dependent on memory. If by secondary level, a child hasn’t acquired the necessary tools, learning becomes very problematic.’
Maths teacher and tutor Dawn N describes a maths lesson in a typical classroom of between 25 and 30 children:
‘You know that more able students are bored and the less able students are floundering. The others, who would benefit from being pushed a bit, might not get that extra attention and easily become distracted. I generally set up a help desk at the back of the class, and always get four or five children coming up to me. But unfortunately, I can’t give them the extended time and one-to-one attention they might need.’
Private maths tuition builds confidence
Many of us can remember, as children, becoming confused or anxious in a maths lesson and missing the early, vital element which resulted in confusion for the rest of the lesson. This simply doesn’t happen with a private maths tutor. Dawn estimates that a child given an hour’s one-to-one tutoring session covers three times as much work as he or she would do in a classroom. ‘That’s allowing time for maths games and a break halfway through.’
‘Private tutoring,’ says Dawn, is ‘enormously confidence-building. Children often know how to work out the answer to a question but have no confidence in their abilities. This is a major barrier to continuous success in maths.’
A tutor is there to support the child and family
The educational consultants at Elite Tutors Sussex are all qualified teachers and they understand the demands of the classroom as well as a clear understanding of maths anxieties in students. They work hard to match individual pupils with an appropriate tutor. When a trusted rapport is established, a child is not only free to work at their own pace but to talk more broadly about their attitude to maths and the challenges it brings. Perhaps their former reluctance to engage with maths is due to peer pressure, and not wanting to be seen as ‘nerdy’? They might even feel intimidated by the language used. As Dawn says, ‘You need good English skills to be able to interpret maths questions – some of them can be very wordy and may even include technical vocabulary that needs to be specifically taught.’ These issues can be discussed in a tutoring session and given the time they need.
Success at maths, in fact, seems to be all about breaking down barriers. Sometimes it’s not just the pupil who has a defensive attitude – ‘I can’t do it’ – but older generations within the family don’t realise that maths is essential to today’s careers in sciences, technology, and teaching. ‘I often hear people saying with complacency that they weren’t very good at maths when they were at school,’ says Dawn. ‘But we need a different attitude if our children are going to feel more confident and make the most of their education.’
How to make the most of your maths tutor sessions:
- Find information from your child’s maths teacher such as targets, areas to develop, and the exam board at the secondary level.
- Set up communications between your maths tutor and your child’s maths teacher at school.
- Do have a maths kit ready for your child to use. It should not be the one they take to school. This should include a scientific calculator if your child is at secondary school. Avoid using the calculator on your child’s mobile phone.
- It’s a good idea to have a separate home-maths pencil case where equipment is kept safe.
- Do provide an exercise book for lessons, squared or with blank pages. No loose papers as they can easily get lost.
- Do find a quiet place for the lesson, not the kitchen which tends to get noisy.
- Make sure your child isn’t hungry or thirsty before they start.
- Clothing – make sure your child is wearing comfortable, appropriate clothing.
Making contact with a Brighton and Hove maths tutor
A local maths tutor can rapidly be matched with your family through Maths Tutors Sussex (elitetutorssussex.com). After that, Dawn says it’s a good idea to be ready for the first session. That way you can save time and your child will benefit from every minute.
At Elite Tutors Sussex, we can find tutors for you in the following areas:
Our maths tutors by area
- West Sussex
- Tunbridge Wells
- Brighton and Hove
ETS can help you to find exactly the right tutor for your child. Tutoring will positively impact your child’s mathematical confidence: contact us at ETS so that we can organise a tutor to support your child’s needs.
Written by Lindsey Tydeman
Photos by Jeswin Thomas