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Rose Dempsey

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Helping With Mathematics
by Rose Dempsey   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Posted: Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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Some tips for helping children learn math

I was delivering to an AVON customer yesterday, and 2 units up (from the place she works ) is a Kumon Math office ... and while I was walking by there were about 5 kids coming over from the parking lot and entering that place. That's good, that parents are willing to pay for help for kids who have problems with their math skills, but what about parents who don't have the money to do so? Who can't afford Kumon Math for their kids, no matter how much they might want to be able to? What are they to do?

To begin with, we need to understand - What is Kumon Math? Read this article
and you will have a better understanding. In many ways it may seem old-fashioned, rote learning, stricter and more restrictive, but as part of a homeschool curriculum or as a daily effort at home for everyone else, it can add an extra edge to their math ability.

So, going back to - what if you can't afford it? What then? Simple! You have to do it for yourself!

You can actually buy Kumon workbooks through their site
or you can substitute with many of the ones you find more cheaply on dollar store or supermarket shelves. They key will be in the consistency of the time spent daily, and the "timing" of the work to emulate the Kumon system.

Kumon centers do 30 minute sessions, but you could begin with 10-15 minutes.

They are also quiet, respectful places, and this could be a good time to teach children those qualities too even if at a kitchen table during math time.

I don't know if Kumon does times tables, but these are one tool that I "push" because in these days of calculators, many children no longer know how to "figure out" stuff without their electronic friend. I struggled with times tables in school, yet now seem to recall them with no problem, so they did sink in even though I didn't realise it at the time. Repeating times tables each day for maybe 5 minutes, maybe two sets a day, will help instill it in their brains, and you can jazz it up with a beat, whatever it takes, but have them do it.

Well, then my thoughts went back to early learning math skills and I think the greatest tools we have for little ones are Smarties (M & M's) and Skittles. Great for a whole host of math learning. Counting, grouping, adding and subtracting ... and the reward at the end is, they get to eat them! One of the fun ways to teach beginning math to little ones. Again, taking only maybe 15 minutes or so a day ... but because it's fun they don't realise they are learning!

For elementary age children, I love Cuisenaire Rods, and they are great for teaching how different amounts can look different, or how they make up each other. They are simple squared "rods" with a different colour from 1-10, and 10 of the 1 size fits onto 1 of the 10 size. Or 5 of the 2 size. Children learn the correlations and comparisons.

For all ages and skills, I am a big "workbook" fan as well and (as mentioned previously) these are now available not only at educational stores and online but also now in dollar stores and on supermarket shelves.

Consistency is a big key to success though, even if only 10-15 minutes a day, it needs to become a routine, a habit. It trains the mind to be ordered, something that for many of us seems to be lacking in many ways (my own erratic nature being one of them). But with consistency comes the expectation - of being expected to study, being expected to learn, and being expected to achieve. It leaves no room for failure in the mind of the child, so enables them to progress unhindered by that hold back. And each child progresses at their own rate - again no failure - just success, persistence until it is understood and they've "got it".

I am a strong believer in small successes and in ignoring the "I can't do this" and showing them that they really can, and finding approaches that work for that child. Every child has it in them to be successful, it just takes the right kind of teaching/learning to get them there.

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