Math is a science that requires the use of fundamental reasoning tools to solve problems when given a fixed condition. However, many students see this as a monumental task and would oftentimes accept that they are just not good at math, or even question the importance of math! This is a symptom of a mind block in mathematics. How can we unblock it? Let’s explore our math tutoring methods to achieve this.
Knowing the fundamental tools necessary for solving math problems is the first step. These tools are numeration, proportional thinking, wholes and parts, patterning, spatial sense and grouping. Requiring your child to use these tools in and around your home, will eventually create a habit of problem solving.
For example, let us say that you want your 1st grade child to develop his/her numeration skills. You may introduce an opportunity for the child to understand that five minus two equals three by asking him/her to get 5 tangerines from your fridge. You should then tell him/her to put 2 on a table and hand the rest to you, then ask him/her to tell you how many tangerines were handed to you. Remember, this practice will effectively show your child how numbers can be applied and manipulated in real life situations. This is an integral part of our math tutoring methods.
Now you should hand them a book and a pen and tell them to retrace “5-2=3” and reward them with a gesture of “good job!”. Mission accomplished! Let us look at another example involving proportional thinking.
Introduce an opportunity to have your child practise proportional thinking by making lemonade with them. Tell him/her to fetch a tray of ice cubes and a variable number of cups to pour lemonade into. Have him/her place 1 ice cube in each cup of lemonade and ask him/her, “how many total cups are there?” and “how many total ice cubes are there?”
Now, have him/her place 2 ice cubes in each lemonade and repeat the question. Feel free to increase the amount placed in each cup but ensure that they are equally distributed. This practice helps to build your child’s ability to work with ratios. Have him/her retrace on a piece of paper that 1:2 is the same ratio as 2:4 and 3:6 and reward them with lemonade!
Wholes and Parts
Teach your child wholes and parts by referencing that wholes are named by whole numbers and parts are named by fractions. Grab three oranges from your fridge and cut one of the oranges in a half. Explain to your child the meaning of a half (when a whole is cut into 2 equal pieces). Put away one of the cut pieces and ask him/her to tell you how many whole oranges and how many half oranges you have.
Explain to him/her that 2 wholes + 1 half is 2 and a half. You may cut the half orange into 2 equal pieces to make a quarter and repeat the exercise (this is a math tutoring opportunity to extend his/her knowledge).
Introduce patterning and spatial sense during arts and crafts activities with your child. You may create a pattern like this ( ○ ● ○ ● ● ○ ● ● ● ○ ● ● ● ● ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○) and have him/her colour in the rest of the blank circles to complete the pattern. Feel free to mix it up and have him/her engaged! Using arts and crafts is one of the oldest math tutoring trick to immerse your child in mathematics.
Teach grouping with a large quantity of small items. Have him/her group 20 pieces of candy, for example, in smaller groups of 4 and then quiz him/her about how many groups there are. This allows him/her to make connections with higher order operations such as multiplication and division. Have him/her write on paper that 20 divided by 4 equals 5 and reward him/her.
Teaching and reinforcing these skills at a young age prepares your child with the tools necessary to understand and solve harder mathematical problems as they progress to higher grades. Find out more about our math tutoring methods to help your child.