August 1, 2018
Help Your Child Develop A Better Understanding of Math — 3 Major Topics All Teenagers Should Learn In High School Math
High school students learn best at their own pace, but that isn’t always possible when they’re thrown into a fast-paced math curriculum. As students work their way from algebra through calculus, they may begin to falter if the are missing fundamental knowledge about math. Math is all about building blocks, and if students want to develop a better understanding of math, it’s important that they feel confident applying past concepts to future problems.
That’s where a tutor comes in. You see, great math tutors are not only experts in the particulars of a subject – they’re trained to make sure high school students truly understand the concepts at a deeper level. The results are higher grades and even a spark of fun for students in high school math class.
Algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus are all unique in their own ways, and our tutors will help your high school student understand three major topics that are universal in all forms of math, and applicable to life after class.
Topic 1: A Better Understanding of Math: Relational Understanding
Did you know there are two types of understanding in math? Many students are adept at the first: instrumental understanding. They can take certain math rules and use them to solve problems – but they don’t necessarily know why the rule worked. This form of understanding relies on memorization more than application and can lead to struggles when problems become more complex.
The second form is relational understanding. Some may call it deductive reasoning. It necessitates a deeper understanding of rules, formulas and theorems so that students can continue to build on a solid foundation when things get harder. When students understand the why behind math, their worlds start to open up and they can make connections they may not have seen before.
Math tutors help with relational understanding because they have more time to work with students. In a classroom environment, students can begin to feel overwhelmed if they don’t fully grasp a concept, and fall behind as the class speeds on through to the next lesson. A student who understands the purpose behind math ideas and how to apply them to different concepts will be capable of solving any problem.
Topic 2: A Better Understanding of Math: Translating decimals, fractions and percentages
The entire course of algebra study hinges on understanding of decimals, fractions and percentages, and students need to be able to seamlessly transition between the three. But our brains don’t necessarily work that quickly. Think of yourself in the supermarket, trying to deduce a sale price – sometimes it takes some mental gymnastics to get to the answer. When high school students are up against time pressure on standardized tests, they need to perform at a high level, and fast.
The most common questions tutors will hear from frustrated math students is, “when will I ever use this in real life?” From statistics class in college to filing taxes to taking measurements on a home building project, decimals, fractions and percentages are perhaps the most relevant concepts to the real world beyond the classroom. All high school students should know how to speak the language of these numbers, and math tutors can make them proficient.
Topic 3: A Better Understanding of Math: Calculator proficiency
Every high school student has a computer in their hands at all times nowadays, but not all of them understand the right inputs to solve math problems. Or, if they do, they understand them at an instrumental level and their ability to manipulate formulas tops off at a certain point.
Calculator learning is crucial in high school math. Machines are capable of so much, but they can’t do all the work for your student. Our tutors focus first on the concept, then on how to replicate the concept in digital form. We want students to be confident in more than just knowing where the right button is – we want them to grasp exactly why they’re pressing it to solve a problem.
July 1, 2018
Research shows that, over the summer, Portland high school students are likely to experience summer learning loss. Students, on average, lose the equivalent of 2.5 months worth of math education during the summer months. Decades of research (dating back over 100 years) prove this stunning fact.
However, some students actually report slight gains in learning and brain development over the summer. Why? They read books. Work with tutors. And attend educational summer camps. (My mom used to send me to these. Thanks, mom!)
Tired of summer learning loss? You better be! Research shows that it’s cumulative. That means each summer piles on-top of each other, weighing down your child’s grades like a heavy rock.
Quick Tips on helping your Portland high school student prevent summer learning loss:
- Go To The Library
- Reward Them For Khan Academy
- Teach Them About Finance and Investing
- Read To Them
- Solve Math Problems With Them
You could consider creating a reward system, whereby if your child reads for 30 minutes (or studies math using Khan Academy for 30 minutes) they are free to play with their friends for the afternoon.
Remember, this is also important for standardized tests. Research shows that after the summer months, students score lower on standardized tests (than they did at the end of spring). And this loss is cumulative. For example, in math, students who don’t learn in the summer can end up 2.5 to 3 years behind their peers. Could this be a reason that your teenager is struggling in algebra, geometry, or calculus? In our experience, we see this happen all the time.
Is your child on the bubble?
Summer learning loss is especially important if your child is struggling or “on the bubble” in any of her classes. A few hours in the summer can mean the difference between a D or a B in the fall.
Ask your teacher for help. Often, teachers will have extra resources and ideas for how their students can catch up and improve in the summer. Ask about: workbooks, online resources, or fun activities.
Checking with next year’s teacher is often an even better idea because they can help give your child a direct head start.
Other ideas to consider:
- Summer Writing Courses
- Dance Classes
- STEM Summer Camp
Planning a lot of vacations this summer?
Try to find some teachable moments. Let your child help plan and research the trip. Take them to the zoo, library, or a museum. Encourage them to write a journal during the summer.
I know a number of parents who suspend allowance during the summer… and instead reward good behavior (studying, reading, learning) with prizes or compensation. Research shows that these rewards don’t have to be big to work. They just have to be timely.
Good luck on your summer learning and fun!
June 1, 2018
Books For Success. What books help your child succeed? Read below to find out!
As a tutor, I’ve discovered that many children have low grades because of their poor mindset.
I’m a big believer in books. I give books to most of my clients. Why? Because they have the power to transform someone’s life.
This blog article is about the 3 books for success—to help boost your child’s grades.
Here are the most important books for success that your child should be reading, now:
Books For Success — Mindset
The “low effort syndrome” is something many parents are familiar with. Why does it happen? New research shows that it happens because during the teenager years students feel as if everyone is trying to quantify them. Grades. Papers. Tests. Students, at this age, naturally resist. “You want quantify me!” They seem to shout. “I won’t put it any effort at all— then you can’t test my ability. Ha!” (Clearly, that’s not the best, most useful, mindset in the world.)
The way to get around this, I’ve found, is to make students aware of this. I tell my clients why they are acting the way they are. And I think this insight gives me credibility. It builds trust because it shows I understand who they are and why they do what they do.
Teenagers, like anyone, want to be listened to. They want to be understood. They want to be heard and known.
And I think it’s possible to hear them—while still encouraging them to improve.
This book teaches students that they can learn anything. It teaches them that if they try, and use different strategies, they can succeed at any subject.
Books For Success — How to Win Friends and Influence People
This book is a classic. Another thing I’ve found in my research and time spent with youth, is that kids who have the “low effort syndrome” are usually lacking interpersonal skills. They might be difficult to deal with themselves—but often they don’t know how to deal with difficult people.
They don’t understand how to make a nit-picky teacher like them. Instead of being likable and winning a teacher’s favor, youth with the “low effort syndrome” are most likely to rebel so that they can look cool in front of their peers.
This can all change by reading a few good books.
Books For Success — How Children Succeed
How do children succeed? Recent research shows that more than anything else, having grit is what makes children succeed.
Grit is a personality trait that allows a person to pursue and accomplish their goals despite repeated and consistent setbacks and failures.
In life and education alike, challenges are going to come. That’s why it’s imperative for a child to develop grit.
What researchers are finding matters even more than cognitive skills … are non-cognitive characteristics and qualities such as: persistence, self-confidence, grit, curiosity, and self-control.
This book, and others, will show your child how.
— Eric Earle
P.S. — At Tutor Portland we have tutors who help in common everyday subjects. But our tutors also serve as mentors. We’re here to inspire students, to connect with them on a level deeper than simply school, academics, and grades. We’ve found that this deeper connection helps students improve both academically and personally.
May 1, 2018
Some Portland Parents Ask Me: Why Should I Hire A Tutor?
I’ve spoken with many Portland parents who are interested in hiring a tutor for their child. They often ask me about the benefits of tutoring. What results should they expect to see for their children?
Research On The Benefits of Hiring A Tutor
In 1982, a young researcher conducted a meta-analysis of over 60 studies on tutoring. This means, he took the results of over 60 studies and analyzed them to see the outcomes of a wide-range of studies.
- Tutored Students Outperformed Peers On Examinations
- Tutees Expressed More Positive Attitudes Towards School Subjects
- Tutoring Was Especially Beneficial For Students Learning Mathematics
Here is an article from the National Education Association that further discusses the benefits of academic tutoring.
(Why was math tutoring so beneficial?) Math is a linear subject. That means that what you learned yesterday (last year or last class) effects what you are learning today. So, if you fall behind in math, you’re in trouble. That’s where tutors can make a huge difference. Tutors can help Portland students rise above their difficulties and master new skills.
Academic And Cognitive Improvements From Working With Academic Tutors
- Tutors Help Students Raise Their GPA, Score Higher On Tests, and Better Understand Material
Social And Behavioral Benefits From Working With Academic Tutors
But tutors also bestow another benefit upon tutees: they help them socially.
- Tutors Help Students Develop What Psychologists Call A Self-Concept and Social-Concept
- (And further studies show that Self and Social Concepts are Correlated With Improved Academic Performance.)
- Tutored Students Show A Decrease In In-Class Disruptive Behaviors
- Tutored Students Report A Greater Degree Of Internal Responsibility For Their Own Achievement.
- Tutoring Has Also Been Shown To Improve Students’ Ability To Handle Constructive Feedback
That is pretty remarkable. Most Portland parents I talk too are in it for immediate results. They want to see their child’s grades go from Cs to As. And I understand that. But what’s incredible to me is the constructive power that tutoring can have on a student both socially and behaviorally.
If you’re interested in learning more:
Here’s an article that discusses several benefits to tutoring.
— Eric Earle
April 1, 2018
A Math Tutor: Is it the right time to hire one?
The mere word math is frightening to many students. However, tutors can rapidly bring students to heightened math confidence. (And heightened grades!)
First and Foremost: Grades.
If your child has a C or lower in math, a tutor might sound like a good idea. If you want your child to get straight As, a tutor might sound even better! Tutors can help students achieve their academic goals, no matter what they’re aiming for. Maybe there is a specific university they’re thinking about? Or a scholarship? Know where you and your child think their grades should be and call a tutor to decide how to get there.
Has Your Child Lost Interest In Math?
One sign that you might need to hire a tutor is if your child has lost interest for math. If your child used to love math, and now doesn’t—a tutor might be able to help.
If your child is losing interest in math, that’s a signal: something’s wrong. Most likely, they aren’t fully understanding the material.
Get A Math Tutor Quickly
It’s important, when it comes to any subject, to get a tutor early on. But it’s even more important with math. In math, more-so than any other subject, the content of the courses are linear (you must know the previous material in order to understand what is built on top of that material).
You always have to act especially quickly if you sense that your child is losing confidence in math. Confidence is critical to learning math. You need it. A tutor can always help restore a child’s confidence.
Is Hiring A Tutor Worth The Money?
I think it depends on where your child is—where you want them to be—and your financial situation. Hiring a tutor can be an incredible idea if you want to see better grades, on-time graduation, and success for your child.
This article explores tutoring—and whether or not it is worth the cost.
What Qualities To Look For In A Tutor
I think, when it comes to tutoring, likability is a really important factor. It’s important than your child like his tutor. A tutor must win a child’s trust. They should be knowledgable in their field. A tutor should be a strong communicator who has a passion for tutoring and seeing academic improvements in their tutee.
I’m a bit biased, but I’ve hand-selected our tutors—and I think they’re incredible.
— Eric Earle