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Tip of the day – What to do when your kid makes a math mistake

Monday, February 6th, 2012

I recently realized there’s something I constantly do with my private tutoring students: use a question to direct their attention to an error.

Let’s say a student makes a mistake like, 5 + 4 = 8.

Instead of saying, “NO! That’s WRONG! 5 + 4 DOES NOT EQUAL 8!!!”

I’ll just gently ask, “What’s 5 plus 4?”

The student gets the feedback that they’re off track, and they immediately know what to address. It lets the correct immediately without getting emotional, feeling judged, or falling out of “the math zone.”

Try it with your own kid and let me know how it goes!

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4 Comments on “Tip of the day – What to do when your kid makes a math mistake”

  • Bruce on February 6th 1:43 pm

    You are good.

  • Rebecca Zook on February 6th 2:02 pm

    Thank you! :)

  • Ben on June 28th 12:09 am

    really great idea.

    I wonder if this can be applied to different subject areas. any experience with this?

    for example, when I tutor law and a student gives the wrong answer I usually respond by rephrasing the question – not focusing on the ‘wrongness’ of the answer at all.

  • [...] can also use a question to direct them to re-do a step.  Like if you see them write out “7+7=15,” you can say, “What is 7+7?”  I [...]

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