by Imogen Rampling

The spring term which runs from January and usually ends around the end of March is the term during which many schools will find that their pupils make the most progress. The spring term has fewer distractions than the autumn and the summer term. The pupils have adapted to a new year group and possibly a new teacher. There are usually no major drama productions and exams and tests are often held towards the end of the spring term or start of the summer term. If you are contemplating your child having extra maths tuition then this is the time to start finding a maths tutor.

In the month of May, SATs or ‘Standard Assessment Tests’ take place for children in Year 2 and Year 6. The approaching SAT tests are a strong incentive for many parents to go in search of a maths tutor as the early months of the year leave enough time to make meaningful progress before the tests. Working on a one-to-one basis is highly beneficial and your child will experience a useful boost in confidence through conducting revision activities in this way.

January is also a good time to start lessons with a maths tutor if your child is in year 5 and is having some difficulty with maths. This will give the maths tutor time to make accurate assessments and to see where any problems may lie and to find out what gaps there are in their mathematical understanding. This will give the maths tutor enough time to make a real difference to the level achieved at the end of Year 6.

When you start looking for a maths tutor you need to be aware of their qualifications – not just in maths but also their teaching qualifications. Very often someone who is highly qualified in their subject may not be able to appreciate the problems that others have in grasping concepts that seem so straightforward to them. A good maths tutor will be able to appreciate the difficulties that their pupils may have and will use different methods to explain various different concepts. Primary aged children in particular will need to have visual, practical and animated resources to help them understand and apply concepts.

A skilled maths tutor will have many resources available. The National Curriculum has objectives that have to be taught but how this is done is up to the tutor. Lively and inspirational teaching will involve using computer programs and will involve a fun, challenging and competitive aspect to the teaching. One of the first tasks a maths tutor will carry out is an assessment to see the level their pupils are working at. This does not have to be done in a test-like environment and an enlightened maths tutor will even make assessments fun.

The maths tutor should discuss with you how your child’s maths age compares with their actual age in each area. Using the results of the assessment the maths tutor may well produce a personalised tutoring programme designed to fit your child’s ability, needs and learning style rather than their age. The programme will give your child extra care and attention in weaker areas, plus constant encouragement and positive reinforcement in stronger ones, accelerating their pace of learning.

After a few lessons, you, your child and your maths tutor will see that self confidence in your child’s maths has developed. The maths tutor will continually assess the progress being made and will adjust the lessons appropriately. Progress in all areas of maths will continue to develop and their confidence in applying concepts in maths lessons at school will soon be recognised.

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