Tips for successful algebra tutoring sessions

Algebra tutoring can be a huge help to students, because the subject relies on a variety of math skills, some of which may be better developed than others.

It’s easy to scramble advanced algebra problems with simple multiplication errors, for example.

A good algebra tutor will be able to spot weak spots and help the student correct them. Diagnostic math tests are sometimes an important part of this proces. Because math is cumulative, a simple misunderstanding from early on may affect learning for years.

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What you need to know about algebra tutoring

The key to success with all one-on-one help is to make sure the tutor actually teaches HOW to do the problems and the principles behind the solutions.

If she simply helps a student with his homework but doesn’t thoroughly teach the math involved during the session, the student may be several steps ahead with that assignment—and several steps behind in the class overall. This is essentially a waste of time and money.

Good math help, on the other hand, is worth the investment in spades.

How to make algebra tutoring work for you (or your child)

• First, remember there are many levels of algebra. Make sure the person you're working with knows the type(s) of algebra being studied and, if possible, what the student’s difficulties are.

• Find a supportive "coach" who is willing to be patient. Good tutors know about math anxiety and can help students cope with it.

• Take the long view. That doesn’t mean years of sessions, necessarily, but bear in mind that two meetings won’t likely have a long-term effect on learning. Consider weekly sessions for at least a couple of months and then review progress.

Where to find good algebra tutoring

Like all highly trained math teachers, algebra experts can be a bit scarce, but you can search a huge database of qualified algebra instructors here That means their services may cost as much as those of any in-demand professional. If you'd rather go to a tutoring center, My page on tutoring centers is a good starting point.

Click here for detailed advice on finding a tutor, including ideas for free and low-cost services.

Here’s a page on what you can expect tutoring sessions to cost per hour.

Are you a tutor? Visit my Tips for Tutors page here.

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