Eyewitness to Dumbing Down

 

people-316506_1280Uh Oh! We’re in trouble!

We run a educational bookstore business, and we often hire employees to help us. Usually these are college students. Recently we decided to give a simple math test to our potential employees as a way to screen out those who may make costly computation errors when working for us. I was stunned at the ease of the standard industry test form we found: simple division and multiplication, addition and subtraction that required “carrying” (“regrouping”). Nothing very advanced. I know that my 11-year-old could do it easily, as could yours!

The results of giving this test were so alarming to me, that I feel like an eyewitness to the dumbing down of America. One applicant went to college on a scholarship. The very first problem on the math test (simple 2 digit long division) stumped her, and she could go no further. When questioned, she replied, “I always used a calculator in school.” Others who applied for the test did equally as poorly. Some were appalled that we would even ask them to take such a “hard test”.

I can’t help but wonder about the future of our country . . . particularly when compared to the math whizzes of the Asian nations. Do the students in our medical schools have the same problem as my applicants? What will happen when you or I are the one in the ambulance while the medical personnel are trying to calculate the amount of life-saving medication needed? What will happen when they have to calculate the measurements for proper launch of a space shuttle or the runway distance needed when building a new airport? If you can’t do the mental math to estimate the range an answer should fall in, you can make some mighty big mistakes! Sure hope I am not on the operating table when those goofs happen!

Please, Moms, teach your children to do their math by hand. When it is learned to mastery, they may use a calculator, provided there are still basic math practice problems done regularly by hand. Keep them sharp and practiced so they can breeze through a mental calculation in the grocery store to see which bag of apples are the best buy per pound, or be able to estimate to see if a complex answer given by a calculator is right or not.

There are times when we have to use our head. I think we’ve become way too dependent and are not teaching our kids to think instead of relying on electronic devices.

I’m motivated. . . time for some math facts practice at my house!

 

May I recommend:

christmastreelouisa
Long Division Troubles?

isaac-swing
Memorizing Times Tables

1707a-150x150
Math-It

Would you like to share this?

Hates Math

Question:

I homeschool my three girls. My oldest is 9 and works 2 grades ahead, and works independently. My middle child, 7, is advanced and just as intelligent. She absolutely hates sitting and doing worksheets, especially in Math. I am getting extremely frustrated and this in turn frustrates her. Neither of us is happy. She loves to sing, listen to music and work on the computer. Help!

Answer:

How blessed you are to have three little girls! It must feel like Little Women at your house. God sends these children to us with such diversity of personality. It is really up to us as mothers to study out our children’s temperaments and dispositions and figure out how to reach them individually. Each child has a natural curiosity, love of learning, inborn talents and interests. It is our joyful task to arrange their environment so they can retain that enthusiasm while learning the skills they will need to contribute as an adult. We don’t want to drum the love to learning out of them with an approach to learning that they find dull. Learning is fun!

If your daughter (and you) find it tiresome, then it is time to re-evaluate your methods. Some children enjoy workbooks, and they are self-directed learners that make homeschooling very easy! Other children need time, plus the resources and supplies, to pursue what they find interesting (that is educational and wholesome), plus some directed learning by mom that makes the unpleasant subject as fun as possible.

My daughter Louisa (at age 12) did not like doing math in a textbook format either. In fact, as long as I try to make her learn math through her textbook, she “hates math”. So, I studied out what she enjoys and tried to apply her interests. She enjoys art a lot, and interaction with me, rather than quiet sitting studying. So, here is how we do her math facts practice: I sit at the table and she stands (her enthusiasm makes sitting impossible!)  We play a math game called “Got It” . We turn over two cards with single digit numbers on them, and we race to multiply the numbers on the cards and say the answer. To make the game more fair, I tap my hand down on the table twice before I shout the answer, to give her some thinking time. (She may shout it out just as soon as she is able!) She loves the suspense and delights when she can beat me to the answer! This takes us about 10 minutes every morning. Louisa would be glad if I would play it with her for an hour (!) and she is quickly getting quite proficient on her times tables. We used to do multiplication facts worksheets, which were dreary to her. We are reaching the same goal, getting the same results: the multiplication facts learned. The method, though, makes the difference between a happy encounter between us, or a dull exercise.

To teach the math lesson, I use either a chalkboard and colored chalk, or a stack of scratch paper and some colorful markers. I scan the concept in her Saxon Math  book and draw out as much as I can in picture form. If I can use real objects to teach the lesson, I do it. I have her draw out as much as possible to help her visualize the problem. I teach the concept, talking it through with pictures and then we do just one problem on each piece of scratch paper, drawing the numbers colorfully and big. When the lesson is on something concrete, such as weight measurements, I get out a food scale and some different items to weigh and we just do a hands-on lesson. (Did you know that 1 grape weighs 10 grams?)  I learn something too! I pose all sorts of questions (how much do you think a dollar bill would weigh: an ounce or a gram) and she does the hands-on work to find the answers. Once I feel sure she has mastered the concept, I review a few concepts from the previous lessons, and feel confident that we have done enough math. And she does retain those concepts so much better than if she had done the whole  lesson! You will be surprised to find that your other daughters pick up on the concepts too, even if they are not the “right age” for the lesson! If you can teach them all the same concept at the same time in a hands-on manner, even better!

image-1Naturally, seeking out resources that have appeal without you having to spend so much one-on-one teaching time will be a great help.  If your daughter enjoys singing, music and computer; teaching math could be really fun! I can think right off of several math resources that would be delight: math facts set to music as  Multiplication Songs CD or taught in a game format such as Math-it, computer games that drill math facts set to music . Math Wrap-ups are a creative way to practice math facts.

Life of Fred Math

Life of Fred Math

There is also a great series of math books for the creative child, called Life of Fred Math. Singapore Math‘s visual approach and Key to Math write-in picture workbooks are also more appealing to a chlld who loves art. I do think it is necessary to ensure children learn math skills, but as teachers, we can do all we possibly can to make it fun. Think of Mary Poppins! A spoonful of sugar does make the medicine go down!

 

 

May I recommend:

Photoxpress_5485645-150x150
Messed Up in Math

Photoxpress_2054643-150x150
Keep On Schedule or Let ‘Em Fly?

1105
Muggins

Would you like to share this?

Messed up in Math

Question:

Our granddaughter goes to public school and she is struggling so hard with math. The school has really messed her up and is teaching her things backwards. When we try to help her it confuses her. They are teaching her to do math problems from left to right, to do all of her borrowing before she even starts to subtract right to left. She hates math because of it and it is so hard to get to work on her math homework. We tell her how important math is and how she will use it the rest of her life. Do you have any suggestions that would help us?

Answer:

It depends on how much time you can commit to this, but if you are able, the ideal would be to take her out of school during math period. Usually math comes first in the school day, so working with her first thing in the morning, and then taking her to school might be a good option.

Math is a basic skill that must be mastered in order to move on with her education. If they are “messing her up” in math, it is pretty important to get her out of that situation, if you cannot work with the teacher to make a change. If not, tell the school you will be taking her out for private instruction in math, and get the textbook they are using and the schedule they are on, so that you keep her up to date. If the math book is faulty, then you’ll want to use Singapore Math or Saxon Math instead. Test her—both companies have free placement tests online—and find out just where she needs to start.

If you can work with the math book, and it is just the teacher that is doing things confusingly, then using the math book will help her transition back into her school class eventually. Focus 10 min. daily on doing math facts, if your granddaughter is not proficient in the basic facts. If you work with her daily on math, you will be very surprised how much more you can accomplish with one-on-one tutoring in the same amount of time the school takes!

If she is feeling resistant, do things to make it fun and help renew her attitude. Math is truly fun, and she needs to feel that enjoyment again.

Here are a few ideas to motivate her:

*Make a chart with bubbles (dime size) that represent a goal (15 min. steady work, 10 problems completed, math facts done for the day, or whatever goal is appropriate) and stick a dime on each bubble when it is earned.

*Let her choose to do evens or odds (problems) for the day, if it feels like she has too many math problems to do.

*Use hands-on items to illustrated the problems, such as Legos, beans, coins, etc. (I taught my daughter to subtract using shampoo bottles while I was taking a shower!)

chalkboard*Work on the chalkboard. It is easier to do math when it is big-sized and involves the fun of writing with chalk, too. You can hastily illustrate story problems to make it even more fun!

*Give her “points” for right answers, with a goal in mind. For example, if she wants a certain item or privilege, she could earn it by diligent effort.

*Use real life math to help her see how useful math skills are. Use receipts to practice rounding off numbers and adding a column, keeping the total hidden to self-check.

*Let her correct her own work using the answer key herself (with you nearby observing). Often this grown-up thing to do will make a child more careful with their work.

*Time her math facts practice with a stopwatch. Saxon has this built into their program and it is truly motivational to keep a graph recording the times, seeing progress more visibly.

wrapup*Use math facts games to make it more fun. I recommend  Math Wrap-Ups, Multiplication Songs, and others.

*Work math problems on a big sized scribble pad with colorful markers.

Best success!

 

 

May I recommend:

homeschooling-rachel_daffodils
Hates Math

homeschooling-Louisa
Indispensable Math Facts

1707a-150x150
Math-It

Would you like to share this?

Help for Math

Question:

imageI have a 10 year old boy who is doing Saxon 76. It takes 30 minutes for me to work with him on a lesson, working only the amount of problems I feel are necessary, as taking longer than this causes math burnout. Would using the D.I.V.E. CD help my son be more independent in his math time? Can you pick and choose which problems to use? Is it worth the $50?

image-1Answer:

Yes, D.I.V.E.  (Digital Interactive Video Education) is definitely worth the money and will free you up. Yes, you can pick and choose which problems to do.

I use D.I.V.E. with my children,and I have not taught math to my older students for 3 years now, yet they are doing much better than when I did teach them math!

One thing you may want to consider is not doing a whole lesson per day, but a half lesson. It is more important that the student learns the info and has a good experience than that they speed ahead. I think 30-45 minutes of math per day is quite enough. If you are steady with math, doing it daily, even at the rate of 1/2 lesson per day, you will still steadily march right through the textbooks and have a very thorough education.

Best success!

 

May I recommend:

famdec2006-7
Math and Abstract Thinking

Photoxpress_5485645-150x150
Messed Up in Math

11886
Hands-on Equations

Would you like to share this?

Please subscribe and I will email you a copy of my ebook: The Only School Chart that Survived 25 Years of Homeschooling!

  • Facebook
    Facebook
  • Google+
    http://www.homeschooling.net/tag/math/">
  • Twitter
  • SHARE
  • YouTube
  • PINTEREST