By Sean Alexander

Learning Math during covid-19

Felix tutoring one on one in a library

Many parents are wondering how they are going to help their kids catch up in math after missing material during the Covid-19 pandemic.  I've had the opportunity to see how many different schools have reacted to the crisis, every story is different.  Some schools really 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.  I want to take this opportunity to give you a plan that doesn't cost money and will help your student can catch up in math for free this summer.

Recently, we've taken the time to speak with many parents and math and physics students to hear out their concerns.  Many of our students have screen fatigue.  Many parents are having a hard time engaging their kids as a teacher.  Even if you are an engineer and great at math, there is much, much more to teaching math than being good at it.  You have to make sure the student is in a relaxed, non-argumentative state of mind in order to learn anything.  Unfortunately, this isn't the typical parent/son 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 cool and have wonderful, meaningful relationships with their students.

That being said there is hope!  Many parents have wasted the most valuable resource for getting way ahead of the game and not just to catch up in math.  That resource is right in front of us.  That resource is......


Every student should be using the summer months to catch up in 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!

Each student should be doing 10 minutes per night of math.  Do that and you will erase your Covid-19 losses!  My favorite free resource for math worksheets is Kuta Math. Check them out! They have worksheets for pretty much every math topic there is (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.  Basically, take this time to do problems from the class you took this past spring semester.  It's 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 down in class in the fall you are familiar with all the math topics being covered on the board.  Then the class will serve to reinforce what you already know, which will give you a big confidence boost!

I recommend doing problems on actual paper, not a screen.  Call me old school but the screen burns neurons that are desperately needed to get through the problem.  And use graph paper.  Not just any graph paper but the super cool engineering graph paper.

Here's the graph paper I use.

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.  I consider this to be a major milestone as it's proof your student has mastered many super important math skills.  Watch the video I made on just this topic!

We've created a number of great math videos on the most important 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.  I highly recommend picking a video, then search for the same type of problem on Kuta Math.  See if you can do the exercises on your new, cool engineering graph paper.  The cool thing about Kuta Math is the difficulty goes from easy to hard.  There it is folks, I've given you a free way to catch up in math and get ahead!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel now!

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.  In fact, 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 very easily overlooked and that never goes away.  The problem that we see over and over again occurs once a student gets to sophomore or junior year and is taking algebra 2 or pre-calculus.  This is when all the math you've learned from prior years comes back to haunt you all at the same time.  If you are not confident in your fractions, what happens is your student will be asked to do challenging multistep problems with fractions mixed in there.  The fraction won't be the main 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 too overwhelming and this 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.

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.  As always we are available for any questions you may have.

Good luck and please let us know how it goes!

YouTube video


  • Sean Alexander

    COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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