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Many parents wonder how they will help their kids catch up in math after missing material during the Covid-19 pandemic. We've had the opportunity to see how many different schools have reacted to the crisis, every story is different. Some schools rose to the challenge, and some did not. Regardless it's safe to assume that none of our kids are where they normally would be in math by this time of year.
Recently, we've spoken with many parents and math and physics students to hear their concerns. Many students have screen fatigue. Many parents are having a hard time engaging their kids as a teacher. Even if you are an engineer and excellent at math, there is much more to teaching math than being good at it. You must ensure the student is in a relaxed, non-argumentative state of mind to learn anything. Unfortunately, this isn't the typical parent/child dynamic. We've had many Ph.D. scientists hire us not because they can't do the assignments but because they can't connect with their child at that level. Our tutors are experts at this. They expertly ride the line between dorky and relaxed and have lovely, meaningful relationships with their students.
That being said, there is hope! Many parents have wasted the most valuable resource for getting ahead of the game and not just catching up in math. That resource is right in front of us. That resource is...Summer!!!
Every student should be using the summer months to catch up on math right now. Think about it, everyone takes a 3-month vacation from math each year and still survives. This year you lost the spring semester instead of the summer semester. You can easily catch up in math during this time period!
The moral of the story is you've had an opportunity to get ahead in math every single year, you just didn't use it! Make this the Summer of mathematics, and your student will enter the Fall semester ahead of the game.
Each student should be doing 10 minutes per night of math. Do that and you will erase your Covid-19 losses! Our favorite free resource for math worksheets is Kuta Math. Check them out! They have worksheets for almost every math topic (up until the end of high school, anyway). Also handy is the way they organize the worksheets by topic. So if you're taking geometry next year, make sure you can do most of the algebra worksheets this summer. If you are taking calculus next year, make sure you can do the pre-calculus worksheets this summer.
Take this time to do problems from your class this past Spring semester. This is how you can catch up in math during the summer! That way, you will be prepared for your class in the fall. You could even do the first few sections from the class you will be taking in the fall. It's great to familiarize yourself with the upcoming math class over the summer. That way, when you sit in class in the Fall, you are familiar with all the math topics on the board. Then the class will reinforce what you already know, giving you a big confidence boost!
We recommend doing problems on actual paper, not a screen. Not just any graph paper but the super cool engineering graph paper.
Here's the graph paper we recommend.
Using this paper will make your student feel professional while keeping their math lined up. Neatness is not optional to be a great mathematician.
If your student is in the 8th to 9th grade, set a goal of having them be able to solve a system of equations with fractional coefficients. This is a significant milestone as it proves your student has mastered many essential math skills. Here's a great video on this topic!
We've created several great math videos on the most critical topics in math that we see causing students issues over and over again. If you take the time to master the topics in these videos this Summer, you will be WAY ahead of the game, going beyond just a way to catch up in math... Also, the rest of your math career will go much smoother. Pick a video, then search for the same problem on Kuta Math. See if you can do the exercises on your new, fantastic engineering graph paper. The cool thing about Kuta Math is the difficulty goes from easy to hard.
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Give particular attention to the videos on fractions and negative numbers. I bet you think these topics aren't an issue for your student. I bet they probably are. We've found that 7 out of 10 seniors in high school can't add fractions, and they're in calculus! It's a topic that is easily overlooked and never goes away.
The problem we see repeatedly occurs once students get to algebra 2 or pre-calculus. This is when all the math you've learned from prior years comes back to haunt you simultaneously. Your student will be asked to challenge multistep problems with mixed fractions. The fraction won't be the central part of the problem, but it's assumed your student can handle them. If your student doesn't feel comfortable with the fractions, the larger math problem will seem overwhelming, which is when meltdowns occur.
Save yourself tons of grief by learning fractions once and for all this Summer! Watch this video on fractions with your student. Then Google "Kuta fractions" to get a worksheet and see how many you can do.