Developing competence and confidence




The main distinction between tutoring and mentoring is the approach taken.

Mentoring is multi dimensional and involves more than the academic part of a person the way tutoring does – it concerns a young person’s life. A tutor assists someone with learning a new process or concept, whereas a mentor, on the other hand, goes far beyond the role of a tutor. *

Whilst a mentor may be someone who assists with clarifying subject content and teaching new concepts, much like a tutor, a mentor does not stop there. A mentor focuses on the whole person. This includes the person’s past and present experiences, self concept, and learning style. Tutors often focus on short term outcomes (completing the assigned homework, covering content for the next test, etc), whereas mentoring improves the young person’s capabilities to be a confident, passionate and independent learner. The mentor’s role is a diverse one. At My Maths Mentor we focus on helping each young person to achieve their Maths potential through focusing on what we have termed Our 6 Pillars of Maths Excellence.

“Aptitude means something,  but not everything.”

Our 6 Pillars of Maths Excellence

Content knowledge

This includes foundational knowledge (the foundations on which new concepts are built), procedural knowledge (methods, steps and algorithms) and conceptual knowledge (an understanding of why and how). In short, you have to know your stuff. It is also important to learn and study concepts in ways that your brain can process and retain them. Mathematics is a studying subject!


Deliberate practice leads to excellence. This means that you set goals, are engaged mentally, assess your practice efforts, do and redo questions, and focus on areas where you are weak so that you can continually improve. Give yourself time and space to struggle. By struggling through a problem and attempting it from different angles, you grow in your ability to problem-solve.


Negative past experiences, a record of poor test results, societal views of Maths as a difficult subject, internal and external pressures to excel, family circumstances, and performance pressure in tests and exams, among other factors, may lead to feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, anxiety, and even panic when engaging in Maths-related activities. Confidence can be gained through various cognitive and coping techniques.


Test and exam techniques

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you are not able to decode the questions or finish an exam paper, you will not achieve the results you want! This is a skill that needs to be worked on over time, not just the night before a big exam.


Fake it until you make it! Your Maths success may just balance on this little life hack. Even if you have not enjoyed Maths in the past, you just need to start working on that problem, draw on what you know, struggle through it and forge a path to the answer. Pretend that you are not afraid. The more you fake it at first, the more you open yourself up to learn, and the more you become the person you want to be.


Whilst the score you get for Maths on an aptitude test is something you need to consider, do not let it define you. A high score will not get you very far if you are disinterested in the subject and do not put in the work. In turn, expect to surpass  your aptitude scores with the right work ethic and attention to the other Pillars of Excellence.

My son was on the cusp of failing Mathematics in September of his grade 11 year. After just a few lessons with Mrs Sales, his grade shot up to over 80% and he emerged from matric with a distinction in Mathematics. I am a born sceptic and would never have believed that this magnitude of improvement was possible. Mrs Sales’ calm approach brought clarity and order to Joshua’s mathematical thinking and demystified the subject for him.

Candice Bremner

Deputy Headmistress, Parktown High School for Girls


We offer a mentoring approach to tutoring that caters for pupils of all ages, levels and abilities.

We offer personalised sessions in North Riding, Bryanston or online.


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Tammy Sales

Tammy Sales


I started My Maths Mentor to make a difference in the lives of pupils and parents who need someone to walk alongside them on their Maths journey, just like my tutor and mentors did with me.

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* Sue Grunwald, DECS Project Manager Secondary Mentoring 2011