Help your child succeed in algebra


What is this love, hate relationship we have with math? Don't be intimidated by math!

What is this love, hate relationship we have with math? Don't be intimidated by math!

Algebra is a major problem for many students and can cause many to fall behind. Firstly, the concepts presented are abstract, which is a challenge for students who have gotten by through memorization or rote learning. Secondly, the concepts continue to build on one another, so that if a student misses a step, he or she can quickly get lost.

Even the best students can run into frustration and even start to give up.

Here are some tips for helping your child tackle algebra:

Encourage your student to study with friends: Sometimes the key to understanding concepts is to talk them out with other people. Going over the concepts with friends allows your student to walk through the problem by describing it and discussing the steps that lead to the right answer. Your teen will build confidence by realizing they can reach the solution on their own.

Talk your child through the problem: If studying with friends is impractical, or doesn’t seem to help, you can also help your child or teen talk through the equations. As tempting as it is, try not to give him or her the answer. The key to abstract and conceptual thinking is to work through the problem.

Go back to basics: If you’ve talked through a problem with your child, you might find out where the problem lies. As algebra classes tend to build on previous learning, you might identify the chapter where your student started to miss the answers. If so, review those chapters. You can even let the teacher know where your child started to fall behind.

De-escalate the problem: Your child may be great at other classes, such as science or English, and may be thinking that poor performance at algebra is going to be a barrier to the college program of his or her choice. Re-assure your student that the college admissions people are going to be looking at dozens of criteria. Stress can often cause kids and teens to become demotivated.

Take advantage of different resources: Online math sites, workbooks and other materials can often make algebra more fun and interactive than the standard textbooks. Look for different ways of presenting the same materials.

Help your child understand that its OK to ask questions: Putting up one’s hand, approaching the teacher after class, or taking advantage of in-class homework time to approach the teacher are difficult for some kids. Make sure that they understand that the teacher wants to help and will be glad to offer assistance.

Work with a tutor: Staying on top of algebra requires consistent study. Your child will continually be confronted with new problems that require abstract thinking. One missed concept can result in him or her falling behind. A tutor will have the expertise to help your child work through difficult concepts and stay on track throughout the year.


Whether your child needs academic review, a challenge, or motivation, hire a credentialed teacher, a trained professional, to tutor your child. At My Credentialed Teacher, tutors available for hire must be actively employed as a classroom teacher to ensure they are up-to-date on all academic standards and methods of instruction. Private tutoring is available for students in grades K-12 ranging in core subjects, foreign language, AP and IB, SAT and ACT preparation, and college application or essay assistance. Teachers trained to work with students with special needs and learning challenges are also available to tutor.