A few days ago I started working with a new student. This will be my first one in grade 9 math. I have tutored students in grade 7 and grade 11 math so this will give me a peek into the thought processes of someone in between.
Most of my math tutoring has been with the BC grade 12 curriculum and with first-year calculus at UVic. The most common difficulty that I see all students struggling with is that they have not previously mastered the basics, especially fractions and algebra. It’s not so much that they don’t know the facts, like which operations are valid, but rather that they are scared to use them. To me that signals a lack of mastery.
My hope is that I can do more for this new student than simply help him improve his grades before the end of the semester. If I can help him to actually understand what he is doing, that should leave him better prepared to learn the grade 10 and subsequent material. I am also hoping that the insight I gain from him will help me work with those in the later grades because I will have a better idea of how the material was presented to them.