The subject of mathematics has often been a source of anxiety, even nightmares for many students in India. However, with the right mentoring and a bit of patience, we can see that fear of math is only a state of mind. So, how does one settle on a good math tutor who can make students overcome these challenges and perhaps, even transform fear into love (in some cases)?
It is true that students have been more receptive to private math tuitions than they have been in the classroom. This is due to the fact that private tutors provide a more focused, logic-oriented and personalized teaching experience, often found lacking in the school classroom setting.
To start out, students need to be told that it is okay to not get exceptionally high marks in mathematics, especially if they are doing alright in some other subject/s. Following this, they can be made to understand the importance of getting decent scores in all the subjects in school as this will stand them in good stead for the future.
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Go For Experience, It Matters
Mathematics is a critical subject, especially as you approach Classes 9-10 and 11-12. These are the defining years of your school life because they will shape your future career choices. Math gives you the opportunity to score well. It is a simple equation (pun intended).
Now, for those struggling with the subject or simply looking to learn that little bit extra outside of the classroom, private online math tuitions are ideal. With competition heating up in the private tutors market, students are really spoiled for choices. But, how can you ensure if you are making a good, future-oriented choice or simply choosing the first math tutor that you come across?
Parents, you must weigh the pros and cons of experience. With experience, comes added insight. A good mentor usually has some experience to draw his/her teachings from. So, for an ICSE aspirant or a Class 11 student just coming to terms with the drastic shift in complexity of mathematical theories, an experienced online maths tutor can be a true guide to carefully manoeuvre your child through a bit of hand-holding and a lot of technical knowledge explained in simple terms.
Home tutoring is not the same as classroom teaching, especially when it comes to a complex subject like mathematics. To an experienced tutor, the difference will be as clear as daylight. The best way to approach the question is to pose it directly to a prospective tutor, before the commencement of the first lesson. Take this precaution to ensure your money is not wasted on the wrong home tutor. After all, we do admit, one-on-one home tuitions don’t come cheap!
For those opting to entrust the problem-solving to a tutoring agency, make sure to go through the tutor portfolios that such agencies usually have on record. These records will give you an idea of previous experiences that a home tutor may or may not have.
Online math tutoring has also become popular with several tutoring portals opening up on the Internet. For a newbie looking to hire an online math tutor, it is helpful to check out the feedback from other parents/ students on their tutors. Online reviews are there to make your decision-making that much easier.
Zero in on the Niches Out There
While mathematics is a subject in itself, there are various niches within it. home and online tutors are often seen advertising their portfolios, listing these niche disciplines within the broader subject matter of mathematics. Some examples of math sub-disciplines include Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Tractions, Calculus, Probability, etc.
These specific descriptions are actually helpful if you are looking to strengthen your knowledge in one or more of these domains. For example, your Algebra might be really strong that makes you like it too much at the cost of Calculus which is going nowhere!
Therefore, checking for specialized math tutoring might be helpful. You might actually end up with multiple specialist tutors. But it will be worth your time and money.
Check Educational Background
Nowadays, we often come across tutors who are self-taught in the subject they are offering to teach. Now, the question really is if you should, for the sake of going unconventional, entrust your child’s education to a tutor who does not come equipped with the regular degrees that teachers and tutors usually do.
The answer to this question is rather ambiguous.
If you are someone who loves math but hates the way it is taught in school, it may come as a refreshing break to have a home maths tutor who does not subscribe to the prosaic curriculum that education boards like ICSE, CBSE or any other regional boards have to offer. He or she may identify themselves as a part of a growing community of self-taught tutors with a world of knowledge to share their passion with curious young minds.
Whether they can be trusted to guide you through the tense buildup to a major school or Board exam is entirely dependent on your perception and reception (once the said tutor has proved their teaching aptitude, of course).
Certification over Aptitude?
Finding the perfect fit for your math home tutoring can seem like a challenge when you don’t know where to start. The best way to calm those nerves is to look within – what you need, how much you can invest in terms of time and money, whether you are comfortable with an online tutor or you need the reassuring presence of a home tutor, and so on.
One major question that confronts students in their quest for the ideal math tutor is whether they should trust certifications over teaching aptitude. In other words, should you look for tutors with prior teaching qualifications or be okay with someone without them but with proven teaching skills.
While experience matters, as we have already discussed, what matters equally is the attitude and approach of a teacher. Your friend may score more in that regard over a certified math tutor because he/she approaches tutoring with the same amount of zeal as if their lives depended on it!
This is not to say that you should take signs of desperation as a qualifying criterion. What we mean to say is that passion and commitment matter equally, and sometimes, even more, than a professional degree. There are pros and cons to both. It will be helpful to explore them.
Home Tutors/ Online Tutors Offer Flexibility
Conventional classroom teaching is found wanting when it comes to paying attention to the individual needs of students. A student in class might still be coming to terms with a particular Math concept, but the class has moved on to the next lesson. This is to say that it is often quite impossible for teachers to care for each student in an equal manner. This can prove harmful for the struggling student, in the long run.
Enter the home tutor.
In fact, you can opt for private tutors who are themselves students (undergraduates or Class 11/12). They will be much familiar and in tune with the updates in the subject curriculum, thereby affording their teaching with a degree of flexibility. These self-taught students-cum-teachers exercise much more freedom in their teaching methods that ease the pressure off your child.
Such tutors use innovative learning methods, incorporating technology in their teaching – something that is sure to go down well with their tutee. However, on the flip side, too much liberty can lead both tutor and student astray and deviate from their learning objectives.
Certified Math Tutors – A Safe Zone
There is an air of safety around choosing certified math tutors for kids who are struggling to go from one Class to the next higher level. Parents usually trust the experience and qualifications of such tutors as, for them; certifications mean they are more familiar with the established school curriculum structures. This also ensures that the student is not required to step too far out of their comfort zone.
Certified tutors help the struggling kids through solving of previous years’ math papers from specific Boards. This helps to ease the burden of complexity on the student by getting them used to the exam format.
The fallout of this method that needs to be guarded against is boredom. Students may be turned off by the laborious question papers and sometimes, even overwhelmed as they start spending too much time on the same subject and formats for hours together.
Asking the Right Questions
Now that you have navigated the perilous world of finding a suitable home math tutor, time to ask some key questions before you can settle on the right one for your needs. It is imperative that you hold this one-on-one interview with prospective tutors before they start changing your world forever!
We have put together some cues for you to start the process. So, fire away!
- Have you any prior experience of private tutoring?
- What education Boards do you teach/ have taught (e.g. ICSE, CBSE)?
- Have you any prior experience of teaching students my age/ my kid’s age?
- Do you hold any relevant degree or certifications? Are you self-taught?
- What is your mode of tutoring – online or home (student or self)?
- How much do you charge per session (hourly/weekly/monthly)?
- Do you offer specialized tutoring (e.g. Trigonometry, Probability)?
- Can you give me an assurance that my/my kid’s math scores will improve?
- Can you specify particular plans that you have employed for a greater degree of tutoring success?
Prepare a questionnaire (mental or written). This will help you better evaluate the candidates you have shortlisted and guide you in choosing right.
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