Hands on Maths Tutoring
While children are learning maths skills such as times tables, addition, division and fractions, having some hands-on tools can be the difference between keeping up and falling behind. While that might sound dramatic, it’s something we see over and over again.
For a child who learns through tactile, hands-on tasks, maths tutoring is only going to be effective when we use objects that they can move and group. For maths tutoring, we like easy-to use, versatile resources like connecting blocks, number lines, counters, play money, fraction wheels, clocks and playing cards. For maths at home, all you need is a ruler and some blocks or sticks (e.g. match sticks or paddle pop sticks).
The idea is that a child is given a maths question (e.g. 3 x 4) and must then find the answer using the prop. In this case, our student might be asked to make 3 groups of four blocks. It doesn’t take long to pick up the pattern! As a number of our kinaesthetic learners also struggle to sit still, props that require them to use their hands have the added advantage of giving them something to move around and play with, increasing their concentration and filling their need for movement. If possible, let your child stand up at the table, or do this on the floor. You can make groups with just about anything, so let your child’s imagination run wild and make maths groups or patterns with paper clips, connector pens, pieces of blu-tac or spoons!
Doing maths at home is a great way to complement tutoring and/or school-work, and using visual aids can make an incredible difference.
Of course, once children start high school, using blocks can only go so far. Thankfully more and more textbooks are using diagrams and images to make maths more accessible. A few of our brilliant tutors have hit on models and puzzles as a way to get the point across. While it might be tricky to replicate a hexagonal trigonometric puzzle at home, you can help your child to use real life scenarios. Instead of drawing a triangle, draw a building with a ladder resting against it, or think like an architect and measure the angle of an open door. There is always a real life application in maths, so the more realistic you can make it, the easier it will be for your child to understand. No-one likes to do multiplication or algebra in the abstract, but we have a vested interest as soon as we need to know how much we can spend at the shops, or how many awards points we need for a flight! For ideas, see your child’s maths teacher, or ask your tutor. It’s our job to get creative J.