Many times over the past ten years I have run into students who have difficulty learning elementary math concepts that involve multiple steps. Among the most often encountered is that of long division. This past year I tutored a 4th grader who, up until this school year, had maintained an A/B average in all his subjects. However, after the angst he felt when trying to learn long division he started to feel an anxiety uncommon to him. This resulted in a low self-esteem and mental withdrawal from the learning experience. It was at this point that his mother sought out assistance from a tutor through Wyzant. I began my sessions with a focus on renewing his self-confidence, as I understood from years of experience that without the mental foundation no attempts at learning would be successful. We reviewed basic multiplication, the importance of neatness and structure when writing out a math problem and the basic steps of long-division using the acronym DMSB (divide, multiply, subtract and bring down). I took a step back and used these steps to show him long-division with two digits divided by one. I had written a long-division rap to make memorization of the steps easy to remember. I then scaffolded instruction so that I first modeled the problem, then completed one together with him and finally let him try one independently. During the entire process he was required to verbally tell me the steps, which is key to the instructor/tutor understanding the mental steps and processing level of the student. After he mastered this basic level and his success had improved his self-esteem and desire to learn, we moved on to more difficult problems and eventually added in division up to four digits as well as division by decimals. His average went from a 60% to an 80%, he felt no anxiety going into the state testing two months later and now feels confident of his math skills going into the 5th grade. I love watching this type of growth in a young child's mind and knowing I was part of the process to get to this point.
PS If you would like a copy of my "long-division rap" please send me an email and I will be happy to forward a copy to you. In addition, I am available for summer tutoring to help your child bridge the summer gap.