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“You can do it!” is not a simple sentence.

In my tutoring career, I have seen real miracles taking place among students who believed in this sentence. Our job, as tutors and parents, is to make this happen.

I have never met a student who could not do the math, in my entire career. Each and every child can do math if they are taught math the proper way.  Every child has an inner fire for math, and my job as a tutor is to keep that fire blazing.

Let me share my experience with one of my  students named Midhun, a 5th grader. When I first started to tutor him, they as a family had been moving across too often, and this had taken a toll on his studies including math. He had difficulty in multiplying larger numbers, which a 5th grader is expected to do without much difficulty.

Initially, his parents were not able to accept the fact that he must go back to his 3rd grade to fill his gaps. They agreed that their constant movement had made studies difficult for him. However, they could not come to terms with their child learning 3rd-grade math while being in 5th grade. They considered it a failure. The student was happy to do 3rd-grade math; with a lot of cajoling the parents came around.

          Initially, when we were doing 5th-grade math, his progress was very slow—his inability to make progress always demotivated him. Once we switched over to 3rd-grade math, he was able to make steady progress and he started to get what he was deprived of for a long long time; success. As we know, success breeds success. Now the magic sentence, ”you can do it”, started to find some resonance within him. The taste of success motivated him to spend more time doing math.

             With the larger picture in my mind, I gave him smaller targets and aligned them to bigger targets. For once, he was not concerned that he was doing 3rd-grade math; what mattered to him was that he was able to solve the problems. We went from 3rd to 4th grade and finally reached 5th grade, covering all the core concepts in between (we mixed it up wherever required).

It is very important that we build the confidence of our students because that is what is going to motivate them. Otherwise, they will feel dejected, get tired of the subject and eventually hate it. Confidence comes from doing and achieving; for that practice is a must.

  Every child will love math if it is presented in the right way and they are given the space and time required. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing a student move from a state of self-doubt to that of confidence.

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