# Helping an 11-year-old who's missing the basics!

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by giraffe77, Mar 11, 2012.

1. ### giraffe77

I've been employed as a tutor to help a child who is good at calculations, working out procedures, shape, measures, etc, he's ok at place value, but is lacking almost all of the basic number facts...number bonds, times tables, simple fractions that children this age 'should' just know! I'm not sure how much I can do in the next few months, especially seeing as I also teach full-time (and so have to miss the occasional session), and he often misses sessions due to other reasons (illnesses, school disco, etc). To be honest, I could do without it, as I'm only doing it as a favour...should I just suggest that we stop, or has anyone got any magic solutions to help his memory of these known number facts? I don't want to give up on him, but I also don't want his parents wasting their money.
Any suggestions of strategies to use would be appreciated! Thanks

2. ### giraffe77

I've been employed as a tutor to help a child who is good at calculations, working out procedures, shape, measures, etc, he's ok at place value, but is lacking almost all of the basic number facts...number bonds, times tables, simple fractions that children this age 'should' just know! I'm not sure how much I can do in the next few months, especially seeing as I also teach full-time (and so have to miss the occasional session), and he often misses sessions due to other reasons (illnesses, school disco, etc). To be honest, I could do without it, as I'm only doing it as a favour...should I just suggest that we stop, or has anyone got any magic solutions to help his memory of these known number facts? I don't want to give up on him, but I also don't want his parents wasting their money.
Any suggestions of strategies to use would be appreciated! Thanks

3. ### lizziec

If he really can remember correct methods for multi-digit calculations (multiplication, division, subtraction - including "borrowing", handling remainders etc), then he should be capable of learning times tables etc, and should just need a challenge, and be set homework to learn eg tables one by one - perhaps with you suggesting online games to practice on, and patterns/links to other tables to help him learn.
With older students I have been known to ask them to practice writing out tables rather than learning them verbally... If they can write out a complete grid quickly at the start of every mathematical activity, they don't need to be able to recall them all - if that is a separate problem. However, having seen the patterns in the grid, most of mine realise that they do know most tables, and learn the one or two missing answers, and cope well from then on.
In either case, the parents can help out quite a bit, which makes up for missed lessons.
However, it might be worth checking he really does know all the other things, and that he does remember the methods correctly! (I once worked with a 13 year old that had a subtraction method that only worked about half the time.... he had been lucky often enough, and did not realise there was a problem).
With fractions, I'd get the student playing with numbers (looking at different fractions that represent 1/2 in pictures and numerically and get them to work out what makes them the same...) then try with other fractions.. and hopefully they will work out the answers for themselves... (again they can do some of this as homework, once they have the idea)
Hope some of this helps.
Liz

4. ### dillsage

I did one-to-one with a similar child. His mum agreed that he needed to learn the facts - and we made sure that he knew we were both coming from the same place (he tried to 'forget' that he had homework, but once he realised that wasn't going to work he did start to knuckle down). We started just learning about 4 or 5 tables facts at a time, using games with cards (matching questions and answers against the clock - he was surprisingly motivated by this - perhaps because it was a small enough step to seem manageable) and I gradually added in new facts to learn. I also found some online games to practise tables facts - he liked ones that I thought he'd find terribly boring! To be honest, the real issue had been that his mum hadn't been getting him to do any practice at home before, maybe because the targets had been too big and he'd made such a fuss because he didn't think he could do it?

5. ### simstutoring

I agree that the targets need to be small and manageable, otherwise it's very daunting for the student. Parents need to agree that they will oversee their child practising basic Maths facts every day, even if just for five minutes. Five minutes a day works out to over two hours a month! I set my students multiplication grids, online and card games to make it fun and easy for parents to administer. I also incorporate teaching of those skills as part of the structure of my lessons.