I am often asked to support children with the “chunking” method of division. There are times when my personal preferences are subordinated to the needs of the learner especially with long multiplication. I personally favour the Lattice of Napier’s Bones method but will teach other methods when it meets the personal learning style of the learner.

When it comes to chunking however I really have to grit my teeth. There are times when we have to go along with the student as it is the only method taught in their school and we will always do our best to make sure each child is supported to ensure success at their school. Whilst I understand where chunking is coming from (we need to teach why as well as how) I think it is not only confusing but also open to inaccuracies  committed by the learner in the multiple calculations required.

Division itself is in my mind the most difficult of the four operators and we should not over complicate things for students who are finding it tricky anyway. Give students different methods, by all means but don’t dismiss traditional methods for the reason that they are out of date. Some mathematical methods are over a thousand years old, does it make them wrong?


What is the biggest concern of parents who ask Step UpLearning for help with private tuition for their children?

An easy question to answer:  it’s confidence.

I want my child to have more confidence”

“He lacks confidence”

“She needs a little more confidence

Some children seem to have buckets of confidence-sometimes it can be interpreted as cockiness- but usually in certain areas. A boy might be super-confident on the football pitch but feels so inadequate in the classroom he resorts to the age old male fall-back of playing class clown. In that way he is appreciated even hero-worshipped by his peers but he is covering up a multitude of failings.

So where do we start?

There is no magic wand to wave, it is a long term effort which starts by establishing what the child is good at and then building on this with small steps of success.

Confidence grows from the little successes which build up to that point when a question is asked by the teacher in the classroom and she puts her hand up and gets the right answer.

This week one of our students proudly told me how she was able to answer a question none of her classmates could answer.

A magic moment!

Online versus Face to Face Tutoring

The growth of online tutoring raises a lot of questions about quality of teaching and safeguarding. When deciding which is best for your child consider the following:

  • Do you know anything about the quality of the teaching and in particular whether the teachers are qualified to deliver the content for the needs of your child?
  • Are you able to monitor the interaction between your child and the teacher?
  • Do you feel your child is safe with the tutor online, has the tutor a recent CRB check?
  • Do you want your child to remain even longer in front of a computer screen in their bedroom instead of interacting with people face-to-face?

The benefits of face-to-face tutoring.

  • The teacher can read the way children react to explanations in their facial expressions.
  • Help is immediate.
  • Lessons can be targeted to the child’s needs even when a last minute request is made to help with a particular topic.
  • Teachers can motivate their learners more easily.
  • In an educational centre the atmosphere is one of learning which does not have the distractions of the bedroom or the kitchen table.