How Clever Parents Speed Up Maths

July 4, 2016 2:25 pm Published by

Number? Well, yes. Once upon a time there was simple addition, multiplication, division and subtraction. We all learned these drills and the easy methods to carry them out. By the time we left school we may not have been too hot on simultaneous equations, or applying Pythagoras but our very basic drills were set in stone.

Then hoved into view the ‘experts.’ They changed old methods to ‘simplify’ them for slow learners. But, big problems arose. As I have said many times, parents provide the golden element in their child’s education. They are the people who deal with homework, parents shine a light into those dark, fearsome corners of a child’s misunderstanding. New maths, however, is simply not understood by many parents, they don’t know and, moreover, don’t want to know. Parents are pragmatic, they know what has worked for them and, pretty well always, can show it to their children. They know too, that over simplification frequently breeds complexity and confusion.

For my part, although many of my children set out confidently to multiply say 356 by 28, using the latest method, only the brightest, most able little mathematicians complete the task. Result? I teach them the ‘old fashioned’ way and not only is comprehension complete within minutes, but now Mum and Dad can join their children’s homework. Many, many parents left school with deep misgivings, if not vivid fears, regarding maths. The ‘experts’ must realize this and leave well enough alone in this area. If neither you nor your child can understand the new methods go to the school, tell the head teacher, and if he/she demands the new working then you demand help.

Parents, for your part please make certain your child knows all the tables from 0 to 12. These will form the basis of pretty well all maths up to A level. Teach 0x8=0, 1×8=8, 2×8=16 and so on, always saying the full table, not 0, 8, 16 because with this method if a child is asked 7×8 he has to fumble through his fingers to find the answer.

Tables can easily be completed by Year 3. For each table do half of it, chanting it 10 times. Then go to the second half, saying that 10 times also. Once it has been learned and you are onto the next table, always do a run-through of all the ones you have already learned. Remember, we go up to the 12 times table these days – but that one is simply the last element of all the other tables. I once had the highest standard of maths in our Inspectorate in Australia because my children were encouraged to challenge me each day on a clock face for the fastest time possible. Believe me it is worth it.

Lastly I’d recommend teaching your small child maths the way you know best, at least he’ll grasp one method securely and that’s all that matters. And remember – reading and number go hand in hand.

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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