# Month: October 2012

## Mental Math – Tricks or Real Help

Mental Math  – is it a trick or can it truly help your child to learn math?

I found this article from article dashboard and wanted to share it with you. It discusses 2 methods that are currently being used in Asia.

Mental Math Methods From Asia

First of all, let us figure out what exactly is mental math. Today if you search the phrase “mental math” you will probably end up with millions of options. Not exactly that makes your life easy; instead it builds up and strengthens your curiosity. Put in simplest terms, mental math can be defined as calculations performed in your head – mentally – without help of any external device be it as simple as pen and paper or any modern day device such as calculator, computer or any other electronic gadget.

We humans perform mental mathematical calculations everyday, consciously and unconsciously. When you are driving you figure out when to apply brakes to bring the vehicle to stop before hitting something. You figure out time difference between east coast and west coast. But where we falter is at the simplest and most mundane of calculations. Go to a restaurant and figure out 18% gratuity.

Abacus Mental Mathematics

What is abacus mental mathematics? Origin of Abacus is highly disputed today, some say it originated in Mesopotamia and some claim to be in China. Over centuries, abacus has evolved in to various different forms and sizes. The most commonly used is the Japanese Soroban Abacus.

The Soroban Abacus consists of one upper row and four lower rows and columns vary from thirteen, fifteen, seventeen or twenty one. It is claimed and proven by many researchers in Asia that Abacus stimulates whole brain development. When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.

If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.

Vedic Mental Mathematics

What is Vedic mental mathematics? Origin of Vedic Mathematics is in Atharva Veda (Holy Scripture from Hinduism). Vedic mathematics is a system based on sixteen sutras (aphorisms) which are actually word-formulae describing natural ways of solving a whole range of mathematical problems. These formulae describe the way the mind naturally works and are therefore a great help in directing the student to the appropriate method of solution.

It is claimed and proven by many researchers in Asia that practice and use of Vedic mathematics helps the person in many different aspects of decision making. From intelligent guessing to thinking outside the box ability. Vedic mathematics has its applications to much advanced mathematics, such as calculus and linear algebra. The sixteen sutras are: By one more than the one before, All from 9 and the last from 10, Vertically and crosswise, Transpose and apply, If the Samuccaya is the same it is zero, If one is in ratio the other is zero, By addition and by subtraction, By the completion or non-completion, Differential calculus, By the deficiency, Specific and general, The remainders by the last digit, The ultimate and twice the penultimate, By one less than the one before, The product of the sum, and All the multipliers

Today, both these methods have made a come back in Asia. Abacus Mental Math method is extremely popular in nations of China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Korea and India whereas Vedic Mental Math method is extremely popular only in India.

What do you think?

## Can A Math Tutor Help?

As you probably already know, we here at Mathnasium of Cherry Hill provide a math tutoring service to help your child do better in their math classes. But quite often people will question as to whether a math tutor truly helps a child with their learning math.

So I’ve decided to share someone else’s article to give you a different perspective on the benefits of a math tutor!

Hope you enjoy it!

Math Tutor– Hit A Home Run On Your Next Report Card

Jackie was a kid that excelled in just about everything. And, from the beginning of her school career no one would have ever suspected that she would need a math tutor. Why she was great at everything from spelling and reading to her favorite sport, softball; she was a super star. Excellent report cards and perfect grade point averages were all commonplace for Jackie as she made her way through elementary and middle school. Jackie always had a knack for picking up any subject with ease. Being a quick study throughout those younger years gave her great confidence to try just about anything. And when a subject gave her a bit of difficulty, Jackie just devoted more time and effort into her study.

But, as time when on the subjects became more challenging for her. The concepts became increasingly more complex and the curriculum much more rigorous, especially mathematics. And, most specifically trigonometry. When Jackie began high school her trouble with these sophisticated math concepts left her in the batter’ s box. This sudden trouble with mathematics threw with Jackie a curve ball. And, no amount of study could help her swing it. From the trigonometry ratios, to trigonometry equations to trigonometry intervals, Jackie was beginning to think she was going to strike out before the first trimester was up.

But, Jackie’s parents still knew that she could make the grade. However, they did not feel that they could explain any of these concepts to her as they themselves had no understanding of them. But, they would do anything for their little girl. And so, since they noticed how much she was studying without making any headway on her own, they were starting to become concerned about how much time she was spending on trigonometry. So, they started looking for a math tutor to help her through these difficult concepts.

Jackie and her new math tutor met after school twice a week for two hours each session. And, like most math tutors, Jackie’s was college mathematics major with a great knowledge and understanding of all mathematics concepts. After a few weeks of meeting Jackie began to understand some of the concepts that were alluding her. Soon, she began to understand all the functions of trigonometry. And, after one trimester, her trigonometry grade went from a low C- to a promising B+. Of course, being the over achiever that she is, Jackie wanted to make a triple play in the form of an A+, but she was willing to keep working with her math tutor to make that happen. And, by the end of the year Jackie had all her bases covered and was doing so well that she was ready for calculus.

Before your child or student falls too far behind, finding a math tutor bellevue, Washinton residents can rely on can be essential in developing a fully rounded education. To find someone who can help, visit: www.tutordoctorwa.com/.

Have a great day and come visit us at Mathnasium of Cherry Hill.

## Learning Math with the Abacus

So you’ve all seen an abacus, right?

I thought you might be interested in knowing a little about its history and how it’s used.

So I looked for an article that would do just that and found this one!

Learning Math With Manipulatives — The Abacus

The abacus has been around in various forms for over 2300 years. It was used for various counting and operational tasks. One might even call it the original math manipulative (unless you count fingers and stones). In my younger years, abaci were relegated to the bottom shelf or used as a toy for the kinesthetic kids. These days, abaci can meet the same fate that the abaci of my youth did. The first known abacus, the Salamis tablet, collected dust for over 2100 years. For all those lonely and banished abaci on dusty shelves everywhere, I dedicate this article on how to represent, add and subtract whole and decimal numbers.

As most teachers know, the use of manipulatives by younger elementary students helps them to understand the concepts of place value and operations later on. In my search for a variety of manipulatives to teach number sense, addition and subtraction, I came across a convenient tool in the abacus. I’m sure it was no coincidence that each row on the abacus included exactly ten beads, but there was no operators manual with the abacus I found. When I found an instruction manual several years later, I found that the manufacturer of the abacus saw it as no more than a counting device and had no idea of the place value power inherent in the design.

Representing Numbers With a Dusty Abacus

When I first started using an abacus as a manipulative in math class, I was teaching grade six. In the grade six curriculum, students were supposed to represent whole numbers greater that one million and decimal numbers to thousandths. If you count the number of places from one million down to thousandths, you get ten places. Coincidentally, the abacus had ten rods of ten beads each. I’m sure what I discovered was discovered long ago, and some manufacturers probably even send out better instruction manuals that make note of this, but at the time, it was a completely new discovery.

To make a long story short, I assigned each row a specific place value starting with millions at the top, and thousandths at the bottom. One could use a strip of tape or an indelible marker to label the rows. To represent a number, a student would simply move the number of beads for the value of each place in the number they were given. For example, the number 325,729 was represented by moving three of the hundred thousands beads, two of the ten thousands beads, five of the thousands beads, seven of the hundreds beads, two of the tens beads and nine of the ones beads.

I didn’t have a class set of abaci, so I made up little sketches of an abacus (six or so per page) and students showed representations of numbers using these.

Adding and Subtracting Numbers With a Polished Abacus

Once students are familiar with representing numbers using an abacus, they can move onto adding and subtracting numbers. The idea of adding using an abacus and place value is quite a simple process. Begin by representing the first number. Add the value of each place value in the second and subsequent numbers one at a time beginning with the lowest place value and regroup as necessary.

A variation on addition is to add the second and subsequent numbers from the highest place value to the lowest place value.

Subtracting is much the same as addition, but it involves “removing” beads. The procedure for subtracting is to represent the first number then to subtract the value of each place value in the second and subsequent numbers beginning with the highest place value.

Consider this example, 3.252 – 1.986. The student would first represent 3.252 using the abacus. He would begin by subtracting one one. This is fairly straight forward because there are enough ones available. In the next step, though, the student has to subtract nine tenths from two tenths. He begins by subtracting two of the nine tenths, but he then has to regroup one of the remaining ones into ten tenths. Once he has ten more tenths, he can subtract the remaining seven tenths. He continues by subtracting eight hundredths from five hundredths, and again, he has to regroup, this time, one of the tenths into ten hundredths. The final step also involves regrouping since six thousandths must be subtracted from two thousandths. In the end, the student hopefully ends up with one one, two tenths, six hundredths, and six thousandths (1.266).

Subtraction could also be accomplished by subtracting the lowest place value first, but this sometimes means more manipulations of the beads which means more chance for error.

Conclusion

The use of the abacus takes a little bit of time to master. It is important that the teacher and the students use the correct place value terminology (e.g. “regroup ten hundreds to make one thousand” instead of “turn ten green beads into one blue bead”), so the concepts of place value, addition, and subtraction can be transfered to mental strategies and paper/pencil algorithms. Remember, the best way to dust and polish an abacus is with little fingers!

## Math And The Kinesthetic Learner

Is your child a kinesthetic learner?

Not sure what a kinesthetic learner is?

I hadn’t heard the term before, but I received an e-mail from nannypro.com and they asked if I would like to share an article they had posted. After reading through it, I thought it was good and that you might also like to read it!

Children who are kinesthetic learners learn best when they are moving, which can become a problem in classrooms where students are required to sit all day. Sitting still can be difficult for kinesthetic learners, and they may get into trouble in class because they are constantly moving around or interacting with other students.  This disruptive behavior isn’t because these children are badly behaved or not as smart as their peers, it’s simply because these types of learners need to constantly be on the move.  By using techniques designed specifically for kinesthetic learners, you can help them learn more quickly and do better in school.

Talk to your child’s teacher.  Make sure that the teacher agrees that your child is a kinesthetic learner.  If you and the teacher are in agreement about how your child learns best, discuss options that will help her do better in school.  The teacher may have several suggestions, so let her explain what she can do, or already does, to accommodate the kinesthetic learners in her class.

Suggest that your child be allowed to stand.  Small changes such as standing instead of sitting can help your child focus better in class.  During a period where the teacher may be explaining something for an extended period of time see if the teacher will allow her to stand in the back of the room.

Provide manipulatives to use during math work.  When she can use her hands to touch and stack the manipulatives during a math lesson she will be better able to grasp the concept.  Using a visual aid helps visual learners in addition to kinesthetic ones, so it’s worth asking if your school can purchase manipulatives for the class.

See if your child can look at a map or globe during social studies.  By touching a map or a globe during a lesson that pertains to a specific area of the country or the world, a kinesthetic learner will be better able to understand the lesson.  Kinesthetic learners are also known as tactile learners because they learn best when they perform hands-on activities.  Social studies may not be the only time when a map or globe can be used, any subject where a particular location is mentioned would be an appropriate time to bring out a globe.

Do experiments at home to reinforce particular concepts.  With your teacher’s help you can do hands-on activities at home that will help reinforce what she is learning in school.  Many times the books that teachers use to make their lesson plan will include a hands-on experiment, however there may not be the time or budget for the teacher to do all of the experiments in class. Instead of skipping them all together, she can tell you what they are so that you can do them at home with your child.

Take a field trip.  Involve the whole family in the learning experience by taking a field trip to a place that ties into what your kinesthetic learner is doing in class.  For instance, if she is learning about ancient Egypt, take her to the museum and let her look at actual artifacts from Egypt.  When your child can walk around and see and touch items she will better understand what her teacher is talking about.

Help your child remember facts by doing role plays.  Act out a scene from her history lesson to help her understand and remember important facts or dates.  Role playing often works better than simply trying to memorize dates and names.  Combining the movement of acting with the facts that need to be remembered is a technique that can help your kinesthetic learner.

Play games on the computer for spelling.  Any time a kinesthetic learner can put what she’s heard into practice, she’ll be better able to learn and retain information.  There are many games available online that your child can play to practice spelling or math facts, so it’s beneficial to take advantage of these resources to help your child remember pertinent information.

Suggest that your child point to each word as she is reading.  She may not need to point to the words to be able to read them, but the action of pointing to each word will help her better comprehend what she is reading.  You can also have her read out loud while she is standing at the table.  Incorporating some kind of movement is often all it takes to make the information click for her.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can help your kinesthetic learner do better in school.  Make sure that your child takes frequent breaks while studying and encourage her to do jumping jacks or some other form of physical activity during her breaks.  These techniques will help her retain more of what she is learning, improve her ability to focus, and help her do better in school.

You can find the original article here:  http://www.nannypro.com/blog/how-to-help-your-kinesthetic-learner-do-better-in-school/

I hope this helps you if your child is a kinesthetic learner and needs some help to learn math!