Help Your Child With Maths – The Chocolate Muffin Way

Are you a fan of Chocolate Muffins?

I love chocolate muffins! I take every opportunity to buy or bake chocolate muffins!


When it comes to baking, I’m on a mission to create the perfect chocolate muffin!

I know that I’ll need flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, oil or butter, eggs and chocolate chips, but I’m not going to  make up a recipe from scratch. I have a few chocolate muffin recipes that I use as my “base” recipes and am adjusting them, until I can produce the “perfect” chocolate chip muffin.

Helping your child with maths – the chocolate muffin way

In the same way, when helping your child with maths, instead of trying to figure out from scratch, what your child does or doesn’t know, use a maths pre-test as your base recipe to help you work out the topics to focus on.

What is a pre-test?

Pre-testing means, giving your child a maths test before starting to tutor them. It’s an amazingly efficient way of figuring out exactly how much your child already knows, and, more importantly, what they don’t know.  The results of the maths pre-test can then help you decide, exactly which areas of maths your child needs help with.

Creative Commons License photo credit: billaday

Pre-testing if your child needs general help with maths

Pre-testing can be used if you’re not sure where your child needs help in their maths learning, for example, if they just generally get low scores in their maths homework and tests.

In this case, give your child a test or exam paper from the previous school year (or even 2 school years previously) , mark it, then repeat with the next school year’s paper until you have enough wrong answers to build up a list of topics to focus on.

As an example, you may find that your 10 year old struggles with times tables, fractions, and bar charts, but is fine with angles, area and perimeter, and addition. In this case, the majority of the work should be from the topics where the most mistakes were made.

Pre-testing for specific maths topics

Pre-testing can also be used if you know the maths topic or topics your child needs help with, but you’re not sure which part they actually have difficulty with.

In this case, give your child a maths pre-test on that topic. So for example, if you focus on Pythagoras Theorem, your child may be fine on questions where they have to find the hypotenuse,, but struggle when they have to find one of the other lengths.

In this case, you can focus your work with them on these parts; giving a few questions on the hypotenuse but the majority of work focusing on questions to find one of the other lengths.

Measuring results

Another advantage of pre-testing, is that it can be used to measure how much of the topic or work, your child has understood after studying the topic.

Simply give your child the same test, after studying the work, and then compare the results.

In most cases, your child will have improved their result dramatically, and you can sit back with a chocolate muffin and congratulate your child (and yourself) on a job well done!

Will you try the chocolate muffin maths way?

Tell me in the comments below!

This post features in Works For Me Wednesday

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “Help Your Child With Maths – The Chocolate Muffin Way

  1. Ha, I just knew you were going to say that you used the muffins to teach measuring or percentages or something…
    Over from SITS and appreciate your comments there.
    I don’t have anyone who needs math help but just as a curiosity wondering how you tutor someone over the Internet or do your only do in person, one-on-one?
    Have a great day,

    • Welcome! So far I’ve only tutored in person, but I’ve seen many online tutors, some charging $150 per hr! There are various bits of technology available, such as digital tablets, that allow student and teacher to see what the other has written.

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