Recently, a friend asked me: “If you had to choose a grade between Kindergarten and 12th grade to go back to, which would it be?”
I was quick to nix middle and high school grades as possible contenders when narrowing down my options.
It wasn’t that I hated middle or high school. In fact, I have many fond academic and social memories from those seven years.
If I had to pick a single word to describe those years, though, it would be stressful.
Especially math class!
Many middle schoolers struggle with math as they work toward using more abstract thinking, formulas, and operations for Algebra and Geometry.
Your child may not be comfortable going to their middle school teacher for extra help because of social pressures in the classroom.
If this is the case, a math tutor is a great resource. A math tutor provides a systematic approach that helps your child – not only with math – but with time management, organization skills, and developing self-confidence. All of these are skills needed for high school, college, and life success.
Do you remember all the topics you learned in middle school math?
While I know that I must have learned many foundational skills that set me up for success in high school, I honestly hold very few memories from my middle school classroom days.
This isn’t because of poor memory – I can vividly remember lessons from elementary school – but rather because math class moved so fast. PEMDAS, plot graphs, proportions, word problems… my middle school math lessons are one big blur!
Looking at your child’s syllabus or homework planner, it may seem like they are flying through different topics and it’s one big blur too.
With just forty-five minutes a day, five days a week, your child’s math lessons are carefully structured and offer little time for side or follow up lessons for the student’s that are scratching their heads and confused.
Your child may have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the class, which is why you should keep an eye out for these signs that they indicate they may be struggling in class:
If any of these sound familiar to you, then it’s time to consider hiring a math tutor for your middle schooler.
One of the many great reasons you should hire a math tutor is because they help your child learn at their pace of learning. Instead of pushing your child to more challenging topics before they are ready to move forward, the tutor ensures your child fully comprehends the concept.
Pinpointing specific topics that your child needs help with is important. After all, you want them to have a strong and balanced foundation before high school.
While a private math tutor may be able to get an idea of the topics they should help with based on your child’s quiz and test scores, a more systematic and methodical approach yields to better results.
This is one of the things that many parents love about Thinkster Math. Your child works with one certified math tutor, who is responsible for developing and customizing a learning plan specific to the areas they need help in the most.
Your child’s tutor methodically approaches the learning plan through frequent assessments and unit tests. Performance results and your child’s progress are updated after each test on their Dynamic Progress Matrix.
You can view the matrix easily and at any time to understand the specific concepts that your child is not meeting expectations.
Your child’s Thinkster tutor uses this information to create a learning plan that focuses on building up foundational skills needed for high school, SAT, college success and beyond.
I cannot think of a time that I raised my hand in class for help in middle school or stayed after school for help.
It is as if there is a stigma associated with it – like a sign is taped to your back that you are ‘stupid’, and you become a target for gossipers and bullies.
Social experiences may be one of the first things that come to mind when you think about middle school. Bullying and teasing are extremely common and 30% of kids experience or are victim to it. All of the physical, emotional, and behavioral changes in kids, along with new academic expectations, act as fuel.
Worrying what their peers may think causes many middle schoolers to have low self-esteem and confidence.
When you pair this with academics, your child may be struggling in the classroom because they fixate on social repercussions instead of getting the help that they may need to understand the lesson.
Having a math tutor allows your child to ask questions in a comfortable and safe space.
Middle schoolers are also at an age where students are encouraged to become self-advocates. For some, this is extremely hard, as they may be nervous to ask their school teacher for extra help or may not even be consciously aware that they need help.
Having a math tutor is a great stepping stone. Your child develops a rapport with the tutor and can turn to them with their questions. Not only are they instilled with the confidence that it’s okay to ask for help, but they build communication skills and self-awareness when doing so.
In elementary school, your child has one teacher that carefully balances out homework assignments and tests in science, math, language arts, and social studies.
In middle school, your child has at least four different teachers that each have their own classroom expectations. The teachers assign homework and assessments per their own class schedule and unit plans. They likely aren’t collaborating to make sure your child doesn’t have a science test and math quiz on the same day.
45% of teens say that they are stressed all the time and half that percentage state that it’s because of academics.
Really, though, there is no reason for your child to panic as they learn to juggle their different classes.
In fact, middle school is a great time to work on time management and organization skills. After all, high school and college are right around the corner, and expectations and your child’s workload are going to grow!
Having a tutor can help your child work on positive learning habits and study skills.
Take one of our Thinkster Math tutors, Yvonne, for example. She says it’s, “easy for me to spot a student that’s sending in 5 assignments right before their weekly tutoring session instead of spacing them out during the week. This is a red flag to me since it means they aren’t managing their time carefully during the week. During our session, I talk to my middle schoolers to make sure that my expectations for the week are clear.”
In doing so, Yvonne is making sure that her students are organizing their time wisely and effectively. She’s also helping them with the key to learning and mastery – consistency.
Imagine you’re a beginner piano player and sit down for twenty minutes to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. After those twenty minutes of practice, you may feel comfortable playing the song for someone right away.
But if you only practice the song for twenty minutes, then wait a week to replay it, are you going to be able to play the song effortlessly?
While Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a simple tune, you’ll likely stumble over some of the notes.
This is because consistency and daily practice help you retain processes over a greater time period.
Binge-learning and cramming don’t.
Part of developing positive learning habits and time-management skills is ensuring your child is working consistently. Your child experiences better long-term results from studying 20 minutes a day over three days instead of cramming for an hour the night before.
A math tutor ensures that your child is developing a deeper understanding of topics and developing positive study habits. Given that middle school math lays the foundation for topics they are going to learn in high school, it is incredibly important for your child to get support now.
Some parents find it difficult to help their child with math.
I vividly remember many late nights at the kitchen table where my dad would sit with me and help work through tricky Algebra One word problems. My dad viewed solving word problems like a game and would manipulate equations and numbers to reach the answer. My own confusion would double as he used strategies different than what I had learned in school.
While I’m incredibly grateful toward my dad for helping me with math homework, there were quite a few frustration-filled nights.
One reason that middle school math is much more difficult is because of the topic complexity as students shift toward focusing on manipulating numbers, equations, and operations and use more abstract thinking to solve problems.
I’ve heard similar experiences from parents of middle schoolers that I’ve spoken with – especially now that methods and strategies taught in school are different from how they had learned them.
This is where a math tutor comes in and makes a big difference.
A math tutor is an expert in their field, which means that they know the topics and strategies your child is learning and helps them work through hair tugging and groan-worthy homework problems.
Our math tutors are experts in their field, which means they know exactly how to help your child with the topics and strategies that are giving them trouble. They are ready to help in, not only going through overall concepts but to actually help with homework questions or study guides!
This makes Thinkster a great option for kids who may not be comfortable getting extra help from their school teacher. During one-on-one whiteboard tutoring sessions, your child can bring homework questions to the tutor for review. Their tutor uses modeling techniques to help them work through strategies and understand how to solve similar problems in the future.
Middle school can be a daunting and challenging time for your child. Academic expectations increase, which means that their stress level is likely quite high.
Middle school doesn’t have to be stressful though.
Hiring a math tutor for your middle schooler ensures your child is developing important skills, like organization, time management, and classroom confidence, which paves the way to success in high school and beyond.
Be sure to register for our Thinkster Math free trial and have your child take a comprehensive Skills Assessment. This is a great way to start to understand your child’s proficiencies and the specific concepts that they need help with.
Using the assessment as a starting point, your child’s Thinkster tutor creates a customized learning plan with assignments from our world-class curriculum. One-on-one tutoring sessions ensures your child gets the help they need with strategies and concepts that they need practice with.
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