This past learning year Daughter started learning math concepts. I think some parents can only dream of the following scenario: while trying to balance the family budget I was scribbling numbers on paper; Daughter comes up to me and says “Ooooh! Equations!”. She was excited, and insisted on doing some. So we brought out the dried beans (her “manipulatives”) and I wrote a page full of equations (addition and subtraction) and she happily solved them using her beans. We even began some rudimentary multiplication later on using groups of dried beans.
Then this past summer she was playing on her father’s iPod Touch and discovered a “brain challenge” game involving Math. It included multiplication and division and was a game where you simply entered the answer – no manipulation, drawing, or other activities. She became frustrated that she couldn’t get the answers right and, while I tried to explain that this math was for older kids, she eventually declared that she “hated math” and that she “sucked at math”. Sigh.
So, I went out and bought her a couple of fun math workbooks. She did games like colouring pictures based on the number in the area (simple numbers moving up to simple equations), or connecting two numbers that add up to 10, etc. She whizzed through the book and the only thing she had to be taught was how to count in 2’s and 5’s. Husband also found a more age-appropriate math game for the iPod and she is now feeling confident and declaring that “math is fun!”. Daughter has logged several hours of math each week for our weekly reporting, and is ready for the grade 2 books only one month into the learning year.
There are a zillion resources out there that provide fun and creative ways to teach math. Ultimately, however, I know from experience that math is best taught by experience. When you are using math, truly using it as the tool it is, you gain an understanding that no amount of rote learning can provide. I know there is much more “fun” out there for Daughter with respect to math, and I’m so pleased that she has rediscovered the joy of learning this particular subject.