11 Mar 2013

What’s the Best Way For Kids to Learn Maths?

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When they're scoring 100% every time, that's a good thing, right?

I realised recently that my son was coasting, playing the Mathletics system to score points with topics that were too easy for him. He’d spent hours answering questions. But I doubt he’d learned anything.
That was before I started interfering helping him.

We tried something harder together, using the video tutorial provided with each topic. First, he was stressed, as we hit some challenging topics for age 10-12: estimating square roots, adding mixed numbers, e.g. -3⅕ + 4½, and multiplying decimals like 0.4 x 0.51 - without a calculator. He made mistakes - and so did I. We were learning.

Some I knew already. Others, we researched together. I explained how to do it - and why it worked - showing him how to test ideas, check answers on the calculator and find help on the internet. With practice, his scores moved up to 100%. Every time they did, we moved onto something new.

We did maths together every two or three days - one topic per session - and broke off while he was still enjoying it. Problem solving together was a great way to bond. 

Motivation guru, Elton Mayo discovered that giving workers attention was the single most important factor in boosting performance. When I asked her, my own maths teacher said, parents' help is, 'much better than any computer programme - it's the attention'. Repeat quizzing little and often makes learning stick.

There were moments, at the start, when my son said it was 'impossible'. We're exploring maths together. But there's something more important I hope he'll learn.
 Nothing’s impossible - you just need to try harder.


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