Friday, May 7, 2010

How to improve my child's Math

"Mom, I don't like to do Math because I hate thinking!" that was what my girl has been telling me whenever I asked her to do Math homework.

She will always complaint. Between Literacy and Numeracy homework, she will go for Literacy. Knowing the difficulty she will face back in Malaysia school with poor Math like this, I started to get worried about it.

I tried to find many exercise books on Math and reading material for her to do at home after school. After trying for sometime, I find that she simply does not have enough time to do so many things in a day. Her days become so stressful because mummy said after you do this, you do that. After that one, do this...  

Soon, those Math exercise books stayed forever on the shelf for days, then for weeks and before I knew it, it became obsolete. I had to give them away to younger kids. 

One day, I met with her school teacher for the usual end of term parents teacher meeting. I expressed my concern over her Math work. I told her that my girl hates Math because Math needs a lot of thinking.

So (as a "kiasu"* mum I would definitely admit), I suggested to her teacher that if her class works were unfinished, please allow her to bring back the worksheet so I can let her finish up and have more practices at home. Math is about speed and practices I told her!

* "kiasu" means scare to lose out attitude in our chinese dialet

So, more "kiasu" than ever, I even asked to borrow the school reference book so I can reinforce her weaknesses.

I must say that her teacher was very very very reluctant when I asked for unfinished class work to be brought home. She stressed to me that the topics will be repeated in the next term. Not to worry if they are not good at it now.

But after a long chat, my persistence finally paid off. She lent me a reference book.

I thought to myself. Yes, I did it. I am going to make a copy of the book and let her do the exercises in advance. She won't be lost in class. Hurray!!

Before we ended our meeting, she repeated to me that at home, have your girl tell you the time. Relate her day in day out with Math. Ask her simple question like "what is the time now?" "what time will it be 20 minutes from now?"... or like when you have 300grams of red beans and you need 1/3 of it to make some dessert. Ask her to weigh for you the amount you need. Or when we go grocery shopping, ask her simple question like I have $50 and I need to buy a few things. Ask her to work out if I will have enough money to buy them etc.

Why so "anti-homework"? I recalled during one of the introductory meeting between teachers and parents, the head teacher even reminded all parents to restrict homework time to maximum of 30 minutes. In my heart, I was thinking "Wow? Are you sure it is enough?"

In my school of thoughts in the old days, to be good at Math, teacher said you need to do many exercises and worksheets. The more you do, the faster you would become and the more familiar with the question patterns. Then, you can score!

This really struck my mind. Yes, familiar with the question patterns, cover all angles and then can score high points. Precisely, that is our strategy!

But in international school, it is a different learning style. They emphasize on conceptual learning. Math is about logic. If the child understands the logic, irregardless of the question pattern, it can be solved. 

So, when I got back home, I simply flip through the reference book I borrowed from her teacher and I returned it the next day.

I didn't even bother to make a copy of it. I didn't even make my girl a schedule for Math works at home. I stopped buying these exercise books for the time being.

I simply adopt her teacher's advice. Learning Math is so stress-free for her now.

It really helped a lot. I hope this little tip is beneficial.

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