I helped a girl (whose name is Margarita) with math yesterday. She’s in Algebra 2, which is a very fun class to help with. So she needed help with basic trig she was doing, and I was helping her along.
There were some problems that said: find sin(-320) by hand, and I didn’t remember how to do it. So I told her that, and she asked another tutor, and he went into a big long explanation about how to graph a triangle on the unit circle and how that really results in the sin(45), and then the answer is negative, but then she had no idea how to find the sine of 45, so the explanation he gave was pretty useless. As he was doing this, I discovered how to do the problem by relating it to problems that we had done before. Basically, she had to combine two problems that we had done before and she could do it by herself. But no. We had to do it the hard way. She eventually gave up on him.
So. My point is, with math help people do one of two things: 1. They complicate it so that you have no idea what they are saying and what you are doing. 2. They simplify it, so that it makes sense.
Explaining a lot of background in tutoring on math isn’t all that helpful. Long explanations, when someone is struggling, will turn them away from math and make them hate it for forever. Brief, short, and to the point is best. Showing the student how to do a problem, even if they don’t understand all the reasoning completely, is what is essential in math tutoring.
Also, working and listening to the person you are tutoring is essential. You can tell if they are understanding or not. You can tell what sort of help they need, whether they understand most concepts and just need a little prod here or there, or whether they still can’t remember how to add negative numbers together.