Why helping with Maths homework doesn’t always help

Patchwork tutoring or helping with homework doesn’t help your child if they don’t have good basic skills.

Without basic skills your child will find they can’t progress beyond certain points. If they are just getting their tutor to help them with what they can’t do, that will help them to some degree. But what they really need is help with the foundations, the basics.

I used to tutor high school students when I was at Uni and most of my tutoring was just helping them with their homework…patchwork tutoring. They were getting stuck on certain questions and I was helping them with those questions.

I pretty much did the same thing when I was a teacher at Eltham High School. Help my students with the questions they were getting stuck on in class…again it was patchwork tutoring…because they were only being shown how to do the question…without any real knowledge of why they did those steps.

At that time they were given some help from assistant teachers who would take them aside in small groups and give them extra help. However most of these students weren’t able to make significant progress in Maths. They continued to struggle.

Over the years of tutoring students I’ve found there are two types of helping with homework tutoring.

Helping students who just want to be shown how to do it so they can pass the test – don’t really like maths, just want to pass.

Helping students who need help and want to understand it better so they can do more than just pass

Why The Basics Are So Important For Your Child’s Progress

Looking at the various methods that I’ve used to help struggling students with their Maths throughout my teaching career I have found that this program has consistently
produced the most significant improvement in student’s understanding and results.

Here are the main reasons why:
I have found that when students at any level have been stuck in Maths they don’t know how to do it because they don’t understand it. Showing them repeatedly how to do it does not solve the underlying problem which is that they don’t understand it! So understanding is really the key to learning Maths.

Most students find it easier to learn Maths when they actually understand the principle of what is being explained to them. This is clearly shown by when students learning Maths say “Now I get it” and then they can correctly answer a similar question showing that they have understood. Students can not put the pieces together if they are just shown how to do the Maths. They need to have the understanding.

When learning Maths each concept or skill learnt is used to move onto the next concept. For example to understand how to add fractions students need to know what fractions are and what the top and bottom numbers of a fraction represent. In fact it is not possible in most areas of Maths to learn a new concept unless the underlying concepts and skills have been learnt.

The Basics Will Give Your Child Confidence

Having the basics in place, students feel more confident because they know they can do some Maths. They use these same basics in many areas of Maths they study and this can (and usually does!) reduce stress with Maths when doing homework because they now have the confidence to have a go at it and they also know that even if they do get stuck they will be able to understand the explanation later.

Better Understanding

Being able to do basic Maths leads to students having more success in understanding and completing class work and homework. This leads to an increase in test taking ability and a better understanding of how to study for tests because they have completed and understood the work that the test is based on

Maths also becomes easier for students to do because they have developed a more logical thought process by learning the stepwise approach that is an essential skill needed to do Maths
A growing understanding and appreciation of why Maths is important in everyday life as students find that they use some of the Maths skills they have learnt in their everyday life..