In my experience, many children who come to tutoring struggling with mathematics show signs that these troubles have been occurring for a long time, in some cases years. In most of these cases the students only receive a few lessons until parents are satisfied when their child brings home one good test or homework assignment. Then the parents start the cycle over again when the child brings home a bad grade.
Students who have been struggling for a long time will continue to have difficulties until the trouble area has been addressed. Math is a building block subject. If you have difficulties computing the 1st few levels of mathematics, you will continue to struggle in every level afterwards.
For an example, a pre-algebra student is working on basic algebra skills. He/she doesn't understand the concept of the algebra. Upon working with the student, I immediately realize he/she has difficulties computing basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication,...
I use this "trick" with students who know their basic math but need to increase their speed and accuracy. I play "math war". It is based on the card game war, but builds math speed. The basics:
Remove all face cards (leave the Aces)
Deal the cards as you would in the game "war"
Players flip the top card and the first player to call out the sum of the cards wins that round
Count the number of cards at the end.
The best thing is that it can be modified to "odds/evens" (is the sum odd or even) or even multiplication.
They can build their speed and still play the game. It can be modified to more than 2 players or many other ways.
Hope this helps and gives some ideas
I find that many students have a fear of math. One reason for this fear is that math continues to builds on itself. For example, if you have difficulty w Algebra 1, chances are unless you go back and relearn it, you will continue to struggle w Algebra 2, pre calc, etc. I realized this as I would start tutoring a student in more advanced classes, but they never understood the PEMDAS concept from Elementary school.
Most schools nowadays, tend to push the kids through to higher in order to raise their ratings. My feeling is that if a child is struggling in Algebra 1 as an 8th grader, they should consider retaking the course in 9th grade. It will give them a confidence boost in math and help their GPA too. If you push them ahead, it could turn out much worse later on. Since you need a solid foundation to build a skyscraper, you should not advance in math until you understand the basic concepts. Go back and relearn them and you will move forward w understanding and...
I thought I would give a few examples of how easy exponents are. One important thing, though. I know the big question I have heard and many others have as well, is why do I need to learn this stuff. I will probably never use it.
It is true that you may not use these directly, but once your mind becomes one of the solving variety, you become indispensable to many employers. You become a problem solver!
To multiply exponents, you add the exponents.
Example: 3x^2 * 6x^8 = 18x^10
I hope that makes sense.
Another: x^m * x^n = x^m+n
In this one since the variables are different you cannot merely add them.
How about we tackle Scientific Notation next.
All of these methods are merely a way to display and/or manipulate very large or very small or complex numbers.