Summer. School. Math. Three little words that have scared more high school students than any slasher film. But in spite of best efforts, so many summer school students – about half, according to published reports – fail to pass math the second time around. How can you help your high school student pass his or her summer math course – and pave the way for greater academic achievement during the regular school year?
Based on my more than 30 years of experience as a high school mathematics teacher covering everything from pre-algebra to advanced calculus, I have five steps that, if followed faithfully, will help even the most “I-so-don’t-get-math” math student to ace summer school algebra, geometry or even pre-calc. It’s not rocket science.
1. Sit in the front row. It sounds simple, but research has proven that
2. Organize yourself (or help your child to organize).
3. Prepare yourself.
4. Read your math textbook. Yeah, read it! You read your English and social studies chapters before you do the questions, don’t you? I find that many math students, even those who pay attention, ask good questions, and take notes, will often go directly to the assigned problems on page 43, without bothering to read pages 37-42. This is a mistake. Do not expect to absorb everything at one go during class. The text is designed to go through the process step by step, and is a crucial underpinning to what you learned in class.
5. Attend every day. Summer school is fast; the same curriculum you worked on for months during the regular school term will be covered in mere weeks. No way will you be able to make up the work if you don’t attend class every day. And don’t skip assignments!
Of course, all the usual advice applies: Ask questions when you don’t understand. Do your homework. Get help.
Math builds upon itself. If you had difficulty with today’s lesson, tomorrow’s will be worse! Falling behind – even a little bit – is deadly now. So visit the study center. Many high schools and most colleges provide assistance, even in the summer.
Use online help. There are many online sites, but here are two that I like:
Honestly expect to spend even more hours outside the classroom than in. The rule-of-thumb is two-to-three hours on your own for every class hour. That’s a minimum.
And finally, consider hiring a math tutor. (Well, you knew I was going to suggest that!) When choosing one, look for:
Get references. You’d rather not be a teacher’s first private tutoring student.