As parents, we want to be there to help our kids when they have challenges with their studies. But, what happens when they come to us for a subject matter that we aren’t comfortable with ourselves? For too many of us, that subject is math. So, we may ask friends or family to help our students, or we might pay professionals to tutor them.
In 2004, Sal Khan’s aunt visited him in Boston with a similar problem: her daughter Nadia, Khan’s cousin, was having some trouble keeping up with 7th grade advanced track math, and she wasn’t able to help. She turned to her nephew, then a hedge fund manager, for help. Khan began to remotely tutor Nadia, who quickly advanced to the head of her class. Khan went on to tutor other cousins as well, incorporating videos demonstrating how to perform mathematic equations. He uploaded those videos to YouTube so his cousins could easily access his lessons at their convenience. Before he knew it, other people also began watching his videos and commenting on how effective they were.
Just like Sal Khan’s aunt, Arizona parents want to do everything they can to help their children succeed in school and in life. Through his videos, Khan found he was able to reach beyond his family to form a virtual global classroom. Before long, he left his job, and formed the Khan Academy, attempting to help as many students as he could from one centralized Web portal. As he puts it, “I was an analyst at a hedge fund. It was very strange for me to do something of social value.”
Sal Khan embodies what it means to “expect more.” He found that he had a way to help students excel, and instead of limiting his gift to his immediate family, he left a lucrative career to help as many as he can.
Parents can also expect more by knowing our limitations and finding resources to help our children academically, even when we don’t have all the answers ourselves. We can expect more by introducing them to tools like the Khan Academy videos, or even using those tools ourselves to learn and grow along with our students. Fortunately, people like Sal Khan are there to offer a helping hand when we need it.
Parents, what other online tools do you use to help your students excel in school?