Math Checkups

Middle School

“I’m thinking of a mystery number. If you double it and add 3, you get 11. What is it?”

Before you even ask “What is it?”, kids will be off and running trying to crack the code. Even a second or third grader might know to do the steps backwards: Subtract 3 to find out what the previous number was, then cut it in half. Little do they know, this is actually algebra!

What's the skill?

This is actually simple algebra in action! You’re operating on both sides of an equation.

Why is it urgent?

Adults and kids alike get nervous about algebra, but it’s entirely doable – and a necessary thinking skill.

“Let’s make trail mix.”

Offer a combo: If we mix twice as many cups of walnuts as chocolate chips, and twice as many cups of almonds as walnuts, and there are 21 cups total, how many cups of each do we need?

What's the skill?

This brain teaser secretly uses algebra. The items fall in sets of 7 cups, then we see how many sets in total.

Why is it urgent?

Again, brain teasers like this give kids a sigh of relief that yes, they can do algebra.

If your tween struggles with algebra, the Khan Academy website is perfectly suited to help. Check out the courses for 6th grade7th grade or 8th grade. You can search under each one to find the specific topic that is proving challenging.

Wondering what to do next? Talk to your kid’s teacher