Category: Learning math is not hard

Using Numbers To Help Your Child Learn Math

Mathematics without numbers just wouldn’t make sense, would it? Of course not – silly me!

🙂 In my daily reading I came across this article on using numbers to help your child become more proficient at learning and utilizing math. The article was written by Joseph Pinador and comes from Article Dashboard.

Home School Math Series: Number Counting

As a parent, helping your child perform better in their grade-level math is as easy as teaching number sense by practicing some basic exercises. Children who struggle with their grade-level math are deficient in operational skills. As a result, most of the problems that kids (and adults) have with math stem from a lack of basic number sense that comes with knowing how numbers naturally progress.

Traditionally, multiplication tables are taught in school. A better learning method is for students to count by numbers which is a more enjoyable activity then attempting to passively scan a table in a book.

The best and easiest exercise for teaching number sense is simply counting by numbers out loud. Knowing how numbers progress in this manner is essential to understanding the principles of division and multiplication. Counting by numbers can be done anywhere at any time and is actually most fun when done spontaneously.

While counting by the various numbers, you can ask your child questions about the activity. One example could be “Why is the number 5 so easy to count by?” (Hint: what number do you always end in when counting by 5’s?). Another question might be “What is unique about the sequence of numbers when counting by 9’s?” (Hint: look at how the numbers in the one’s and ten’s place are sequencing).

Use the numbers 2-12 for counting purposes. We do not need to go beyond the number 12 since these numbers tend to factor into all other numbers. Explain to your child that when we see that numbers repeat themselves, the numbers we are counting by are factors of those numbers. For example, when I count by 3’s or 5’s, I arrive at the number 15. Therefore, 3 and 5 are both factors of 15.

One variation of teaching number sense by number counting would be to use dice. Let your child roll the dice to see which number between 2 and 12 they are going to count by. Next, you roll to see how many times your child has to count by that number. Use your imagination to come up with your own counting games. As your child (and maybe even you) becomes more and more proficient at counting, raise the stakes by seeing how fast your child can count through all the numbers.

As your child is mastering this skill, they will see the connection between the number sense that is forming from this activity and the math operations it relates to. A multiplication problem is simply a fast way to add and the ability to count by numbers allows the child to use this skill to solve these problems quickly. With division problems, the child uses the factoring skills derived from number counting to see “how many of this number fits into that number”.

For children to attain proficiency at grade-level math, they must be able to perform basic math functions. Guiding your child towards learning basic number sense by number counting is the best place to start. For help in teaching number sense to your child please request a free, downloadable copy of my counting chart!

By: Joseph Pinador – For a free consultation regarding tutoring or home schooling for your child and a demonstration of my e-tutoring classroom, visit: www.tutorfi.com/joseph.

So now you know it’s as easy as learning number sense … makes sense right? (Sorry for the pun!)

Have a great day!

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Do You Have To Be Smart To Learn Math?

Some people believe that “smart” people should learn math easily. Is that something you believe?

Well if you do, you need to read this article that I found on ezine-articles.com!

I Know My Child Is Smart, So Why Can’t He Learn Math?
By Shirley Slick

The good news and short answer to the question: He can learn math! What needs to happen to make your child successful depends on the age of your child and the time and effort you and your child are willing to invest.

This pattern of children, who are successful in other areas, struggling with math is very common. And, unfortunately, it seems that there is not much being done to change this pattern. There is promise for the future in some relatively new brain research that has shown us that babies are actually born with an innate number sense just as they are born with an innate language sense. In addition, we have learned that the critical years for laying the foundation for logic and math success is ages 1 to 4. This runs contrary to what has historically happened with the education of our children. What has always been assumed is that parents of pre-school aged children would actually take on the task of helping their children with learning to walk, talk, develop language, and lay the foundation for reading and writing. At the same time, the child is receiving almost constant encouragement and reinforcement with the associated development of positive self-concept. Both parent and child just know the ability to learn is in place.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in mathematics. Until this new research, which is still unknown by most people, the assumption was that young children were not capable of learning mathematics; so parents did little more than introducing counting. And no one has ever expected any more. The result is that children are not getting the pre-school foundation and confidence that is necessary for future success in math. When these children enter school, they are quickly overwhelmed with the amount of new material presented with absolutely no foundation on which to build. The pace of new material increases as children move through school. Since they have no ingrained confidence in their own ability to learn they lack the persistence to keep trying for success. By the time these children reach high school and Algebra, the 50% failure rate becomes understandable–not acceptable–but understandable.

So what do we need to do for your child? Unfortunately, once your child is in school, that critical period of ages 1 to 4 has already been missed. This doesn’t mean things are hopeless. It just means that it will take more effort to overcome the weaknesses. My recommendations need to all be happening at the same time. First, you need to hire a tutor who specializes in assessment and skill repair. As the parent, you need to discuss with the entire family unit–aunts, uncles, grandparents–all the people who worked so diligently during the pre-school years to reinforce all of your child’s accomplishments with language to continue doing the same thing with math. Everyone in the family unit needs to be constantly reinforcing every success with math and also stressing the importance of mathematics to the child’s future. School, education, and mathematics all need to be talked about in positive terms. This is often the most difficult thing to do because so many adults had bad experiences with math for exactly the same reasons. We need to break the cycle. If your feelings about math are negative, then you will need to practice some positive talk.

It is appropriate to explain to your child about the new research into when the mathematics foundation should be started, stressing that you were a victim of this lack of information as well. But constantly stress to your child that you know that he/she is capable of learning. With a tutor working on skill repair and confidence building as well as family members showing an interest in your child’s success and stressing your child’s ability to learn, you should start seeing a turn to the positive very soon. The younger the child, the quicker this will happen. If your child is in high school, a turn around will take much longer but it is possible. The key really is your confidence in your child’s ability to learn. Frequently remind your child about the difficulty of learning to walk and talk and read and write. Your child mastered these, so learning anything really is possible. I hope it goes without saying that you must always be reinforcing your child’s accomplishments and never be critical of your child or punish results.

If your child is struggling with math when other subjects have not been problematic, then you really can turn things around pretty quickly. But it is important to start immediately. Include your child in every discussion and interviewing tutors. Make sure they understand that these efforts are to make their future better. Older kids sometimes resent this as intrusion and won’t cooperate. If your child is not cooperative, then you will be wasting your money. You may need to work on confidence building before you can work on skill repair. You cannot force an older child to want to learn. All you can do is your best. For older kids keep stressing that success is possible if your child chooses to succeed; and that you will help in every way you can.

Shirley Slick, “The Slick Tips Lady,” is a retired high school math teacher and tutor with degrees in Mathematics and Psychology and additional training in brain-based learning/teaching. Her goals: (1) to help parents help their children with math, (2) to help eliminate the horrendous Algebra failure rate, and (3) to inform the general public about problematic issues related to the field of education. For your free copy of “10 Slick Tips for Improving Your Child’s Study Habits,” visit her website at http://myslicktips.com/

So there you have it – just because you and/or your child are considered smart does not necessarily mean that you will learn math easily.

However, a little persistence and the correct steps will help to ensure that math is successfully learned.

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Word Problems Are Fun!

You may recall getting very nervous when your teacher said “OK class, today we’re going to do some word problems to help you learn math.” I use to break out into a cold sweat! But it doesn’t need to be thaat way for you or your children. Check out this article written by Joe Pagano. Perhaps your view of word problems will change!

In Mathematics, Word Problems Can Be Fun
By Joe Pagano

One of the biggest hurdles your youngster has to overcome in school is the terrible bugaboo which is a math word problem. During my many years of private instruction, the one complaint I have heard all too many times is that of the inability to conquer the word problem. Yet word problems can be tackled successfully. This article outlines how.

Word problems are more difficult that “regular” math problems because the solution requires one to first determine what has to be done and then how to do it. Thus a word problem, unlike the solution of an equation such as x + 3 = 4, and then asking for the value of x, requires one to determine what equations can be extracted from the words, and then how to solve those specific equations.

Another difficulty lies in a student’s inability to read at a level necessary to make sense out of the words that make up the problem. Poor readers will generally make poor word problem solvers. This is why I teach students critical reading skills, among which are techniques such as “anticipatory reading” and other active reading competencies. Such methods not only give students a tremendous boost in their mathematical abilities but cross over into other disciplines requiring reading, such as social studies and English.

In order to better understand these strategies, we will look at a specific word problem at the pre-algebra/algebra level, and then see how to implement such techniques. The problem we shall discuss is on the topic of systems of equations in algebra.

Word Problem Example: Five hockey sticks and three hockey pucks cost $23. Five hockey sticks and one hockey puck cost $20. How much do two pucks cost?

Word Problem Strategies:

First Pass: This is the stage at which we just read the problem to get a “feel” for what is going on within. During this stage, we are not trying to solve the actual problem but just get an overall sense of what the problem deals with.

Second Pass: This is the stage when we re-read the problem, paying careful attention to the situation at hand, what the problem deals with, who the main players are, and so forth. During this stage, we start to mull over some problem solving strategies and start to plan our attack.

Third Pass: This is the brainstorming stage. At this point we clearly determine what the nature of the problem is, what we know, and what we are asked to do. This is when we start to convert words to numbers and equations and quantify everything within the problem.

Fourth Pass: This is the stage at which we begin to solve the problem using the information we gathered in the third pass. At this stage, we also double check our brainstorming phase to insure that we took the right approach.

Fifth Pass: This is the final stage at which we check the solution obtained in the fourth pass for consistency.

Let us go through these stages with the problem at hand. During the first pass, we read the problem and see that it has something to do with hockey sticks and hockey pucks and the price of two pucks. Note we have been thrown a curve ball here in that we are asked to state the price of two pucks not one. Keep this in mind for the end of the problem.

Now during the second pass, we notice that indeed we are dealing with the sport of hockey, that we are limited to the two pieces of equipment, pucks and sticks, and that we are given the prices for certain combinations of the two, and that we are asked specifically for the price of two pucks.

At the third pass, we start to create the initial mathematics. We have that 5 sticks and 3 pucks cost $23. We also know that 5 sticks and 1 puck cost $20. At this point, we should even take a guess at some numbers that might work just to make sure we have a good feel for the problem. For example, you may guess that a stick might be $4 and a puck $1. Then 5 sticks and 3 pucks would cost $23 so this seems like a good choice. However, those values do not satisfy the second condition, that of 5 sticks and 1 puck costing $20. Remember the final values have to satisfy both conditions in order to be the correct ones. But at least we are in the ballpark with our initial guess.

In our fourth pass, we choose letters to represent our items in the problem, and we then put our equations together. Since we are dealing with pucks and sticks, a good choice of letters would be S for stick and P for puck. Gee. Really? Okay, so now we have the following two equations:

5S + 3P = $23
5S + 1P = $20

Now you see that you are looking at a simple system of linear equations. You can solve by using the method of elimination. Thus if we subtract equation 2 from equation 1, we end up with 2P = $3, or by simple division, that P = $1.50. If we plug this value for P back into either equation 1, we get that S = $3.70. Now going back to what was asked for, the price of two pucks, we have 2x$1.50 = $3.00.

At the fifth pass, we should ask ourselves if our answer is reasonable. It seems that the cost of the stick should be more than that of the puck, even if the price of the stick seems a bit inexpensive. If we plug these values for S and P into equation 2, we get a check and thus we can feel comfortable that our solution is correct.

By using this simple step strategy, your children can confidently conquer word problems. No matter whether the problem involves hockey pucks and sticks, or giraffes and elephants, or whether the solution involves systems of equations or mixed rate problems. Reading critically, solving actively, and applying this five step process will insure impressive success in the oft regarded ghoulish realm of word problems. Goblins beware!

Joe is a prolific writer of self-help and educational material and is the creator and author of over a dozen books and ebooks which have been read throughout the world. He is a former teacher of high school and college mathematics and has recently returned as a professor of mathematics at a local community college in New Jersey.

Joe propagates his Wiz Kid Teaching Philosophy through his writings and lectures and loves to turn “math-haters” into “math-lovers.” See his website http://www.mathbyjoe.com for more information and for testimonials, and try out one of his ebooks here http://www.mathbyjoe.com/page/page/2924777.htm to achieve better grades in math.

Joe breaks down the process very well – eh? So simple that a child could do it!  (Well after a little coaching. 🙂 ) 

By the way, I found this article at ezinearticles .com. They have some very interesting reading on many different and varied topics.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving if you live here in the USA!

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Learn Math The Right Way – Crawl Walk Run

Lots of folks complain that it isn’t easy to learn math, but I found this article that may just help explain why some folks think it’s hard!

Learning Math is Difficult For Many People – Knowing Why Can Make Mathematics Easy and a Lot of Fun
by Isabel Ambrocio

Mathematics is a language, but it can not be learned the same way most languages are learned. Mathematical principles and concepts must be learned in a specific order. Much like the way we learned to walk. When we were learning to walk we found that we had to crawl first, if we went too fast and tried to stand or walk before we were ready we fell and got a boo boo. The same is true for math, except if we jump ahead of our selves or miss something along the way, we don’t fall and get a boo boo, we begin to believe that we are just no good at it.

To prove my point about the need to learn mathematical concepts and principles in a particular order, most City Colleges around America have elementary to high school level math classes that are offered to students that don’t have the required college level skills in mathematics needed to enter the college system. So the problem is real and recognized by Authoritative Institutions. Mathematical concepts need to be learned in a particular order no matter how intelligent you are. Trying to become proficient in mathematics by learning random bits and pieces will be very difficult if not impossible. Each level in mathematics requires a working knowledge of all the prior levels.

Because Mathematics is a language, you also need to immerse yourself in solving math problems to become proficient. Doing this is a lot easier these days with the aid of the Internet and calculators that do symbolic manipulation. Spending at least one to four hours a day working math problems, everyday, will develop and reinforce the skills needed to become proficient in math. Why so much time? To build, what I like to call, brain circuits.

Solving a problem requires a number of steps to be taken by the brain. Simply put, to solve “1+1=2” the brain needs to look at each character and then calculate what actions to take. If this is the first time attempting to solve this type of equation the brain has not connected up the wires or developed the circuits yet, it resorts back to circuits it has used in the past when attempting to do new things. Try writing with your other hand. Most will find it very difficult. That’s because the brain has not developed the circuits yet to perform the task. As the brain creates and hard-wires the correct circuits used to solve the mathematical problems your working on your mathematical abilities will grow, and as a side benefit, those same circuits will aid in other brain functions. But like everything in nature, the brain is very conservative.

The brain is not going to create and hook up circuits unless there is a real need for them. You need to let the brain know you mean business. The way you do this is by forcing the brain to work on math problems. The brain does not like change, so it will produce chemicals that will make this uncomfortable for you. You must fight back and continue. Soon the brain’s own need to be conservative will require it to build the circuits needed to more efficiently solve these problems. Result, you get better. And if you do things right and stick with it, the brain will become proud of these new circuits it has built and begin to produce chemicals that will make you feel real good. In the beginning it will be hard, but after a bit you’ll enjoy the brains reward. Video game developers have learned how to trigger these chemicals in the brain via their software. That’s why kids will spend hours, even days, in front of a monitor pushing buttons on a game pad.

Building circuits in the brain takes a lot of hard work and time. It took all of us years to learn to walk, talk, write, and perform many other abilities we take for granted. We learned most of these abilities when we were very young. It was called play time. It was fun, exiting and we couldn’t wait to get started. We also had many examples to draw from, people were walking, talking and doing things that helped us see how others performed these tasks we were trying to do. Not true with math. There’s the math book from school, well people with the IQ of a thousand don’t seem to have a problem with it so who am I to complain?

We learn best by example. Here’s the dilemma, there are not too many TV shows dedicated to mathematical problem solving. There are not even too many math courses dedicated to mathematical problem solving. There’s a teacher going at the speed of light spewing out concepts and principles while you try to listen and write at the same time. That’s not the best learning environment for mathematics. Thank God math is so easy or we’d be in trouble. Maybe it’s not you, you may have the makings of a brilliant mathematician, but have never been in a suitable situation to learn.

Solution, look at the answers to as many problem as possible and see how those answers were found. Use the Internet to study ahead of your class, so you’ll know whats being talked about when your instructor buzzes by at the speed of light with new concepts and principles. Remember, one missed item, principle or concept and you won’t be prepared for the next level. It’s very possible that your very good at math, it may be that the tools and road map to learn are missing.

Most problems encountered in learning upper level math come from not fully understanding elementary math. Algebra requires proficiency in elementary math, calculus requires proficiency in both elementary math and algebra. Most kids in elementary school can’t see the importance of math, so they lack the effort. Kid in high school don’t have time for math, so they do the minimum to get by. Then these young men and women, now ready to enter college, feel they are just no good at math, so they opt for other majors. Has a future Einstein been lost to this chain of events.

Take all this into account when learning math and you will find that mathematics is easy and fun. You may have to start at the beginning to find those concepts or principles you missed but you’ll find it pays off as you develop those mathematical skills with easy. But be careful, once you start discovering new things in the universe with your newly developed mathematical skills the brain chemical awards you will receive can become very addictive.

We have set up a website for inventors and people interested in how things work. At http://www.6pie.com you’ll find videos, tutorials, and information about physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and alternative energy. Also commonly used formulas and data. Ohm’s Law, Faraday’s Law, Maxwell’s equations and more. Knowledge is power.

So there you have it! Now you know that t’s not really hard to learn math! So go get ’em!

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Who Says Math Is Hard?

Many people will tell you that math is just too hard. They often use this as an excuse for not trying to learn math. Of course I’m of the opinion that math isn’t really hard at all!

I found someone else who thinks like I do. His name is Manjit Singh Atwal and he wrote the article below, which was published at GoArticles.com.

Math Is Not Hard

As a math tutor for 15 years, what I found in more than 80% of the students I met? They have something very common in all of them, that is, they all say, “the mathematics is very hard.” Why most of the students find mathematics a hard subject and try to avoid it?

The answer for the above question is hidden in a simple explanation. I always give an example to my students, and giving the same example in this article, the example of staircase, we use to reach the different floors of high-rise buildings. These days, all high-rise buildings are equipped with elevators, but they must have stairs to use in case of emergencies. Consider this high-rise has stairs only and no elevators, for the purpose of the article.

As you know, to reach any of the higher floors from the ground level, we can’t jump from ground to reach higher floors, or if we try we will fail and probably will hurt ourselves. You might agree that it is very hard (impossible) to jump to second floor from the ground. So, we use stairs to reach the higher floors in a building. What, if the stairs are broken? Can we still make it to our destination floor with the same ease and comfort? Think about it, and compare the math classes or grades to steps in the stircase and whole mathematics to the high-rise building.

Now, the kindergarten, first grade and second grade are like first couple of the steps of the whole staircase to the math high-rise and you can learn this level of math easily and anytime, same as you can jump enough to take yourself to second or third step of the staircase with ease. Also, if you are smart enough, you can learn the kindergarten to grade three or probably grade four math, easily. As it is very hard to reach sixth or seventh step of a staircase by jumping from the ground, exactly the same way to learn grade five or higher grade math is very hard (or impossible most often) without having the good knowledge of the kindergarten to grade three or grade four math.

Now, consider one person is jumping on the ground to reach the third floor of a building, can he make it? Never, if he is not Spiderman. For this person, to reach the third floor by jumping is impossible or very hard and he will give up after trying it for some time. But another person used the stairs to reach the same floor and found it very easy and reach there with little effort. Exactly the same way if a student has all the basic knowledge, he/she obtained in elementary grades, with him/her, then he/she is, let’s say, at fifth step already and he/she need not to jump to go to the sixth step, actually the student can do it easily by taking one step to the next level. On the other hand another student is in grade six and doesn’t know the lower grade math concepts such as, times tables, factors or number system. This student is in the same situation as the person trying to reach to third floor from ground level by jumping.

I think, its very clear now that mathematics in each grade have the same importance and it lives with us and support us always, (not like a person but like our eyes or other senses, it helps us to succeed in life). So, whichever grade you are in, start focusing yourself on math. Ask your teacher lots of questions. Keep asking until you are not clear about the concepts or topics you are working on. Each grade act as a step in the whole staircase to the mathematics high-rise building, and performing poor in math in any grade is like breaking one step in the whole staircase which will make the whole staircase risky or scary to use in the future.

So, what it takes to be smart in mathematics? My answer is, keep yourself focused on math in each and every level of your studies. Participate in the class math practice sessions. Ask your teacher lots of questions until you are not clear about any concepts taught by your teacher in the math class. Mathematics is a subject which demands lots of practice on solving the problems on paper rather than reading them only. As in case of Social Studies taking more readings make you smart, in case of math practicing lots of problems and solving them by hand makes you smart. To practice math problems math workbooks are the good source, when you learn a concept in a workbook, then in the same book you have more problems to practice on the same concept you just learned. Another good method to practice mathematical concepts is using math worksheets and you can print math worksheets free of charge from the web. One good site to print free math worksheets is www.mathfriendly.com where free elementary math worksheets can be printed.

Finally, choice is yours, you can choose the jumping method to reach your math destination or you can use right and proven path to reach your math destination. The right and proven path to math destination has the following steps:

  • Start learning math as soon as you start your kindergarten
  • Focus in your math classes, listen to your teacher
  • Ask your teacher lots of question until you are not clear about the concept, you are learning
  • Practice, practice and practice. For this you can use math worksheets or math workbooks.

If you take the proven path, one day you might say, “Math is not hard.”

About the Author

Manjit Singh born in city of Sangrur, Punjab, India. Finsihed his high school at his village school. Finished Bachelor of Science at Sikh National College Banga, Punjab, India. In education field as a tutor for more than 15 years.

 

So what do you think? Is math really hard? Post a comment and let me know YOUR thoughts!?!

 

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