Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Read Math With Your Child

We have already discussed the importance of developing a good math foundation for your preschoolers. The first, easiest, and best way to add math into your child's early life is to add math to the reading you already do with your child. It is never too early to begin reading to your child, and it is never too early to add math concepts to that reading.

It isn't necessary to run out and buy a bunch of preschool math books, although you might mention to friends and relatives that math related story books would be a good gift idea. You probably already have books with math concepts. For example, Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a wonderful story for introducing math concepts. It allows for early counting. It has size comparisons with too little, too big, and just right. It has one-to-one matching with baby bear and the little bed. Certainly you won't use this terminology, but as you read you can point out these concepts. Three Blind Mice , Three Little Pigs , Three Little Kittens , and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed are other good examples you might already have.

Before spending lots of money on books, I suggest checking your local public library. You can check out books, read them with your child, and if the book seems to be one of those books your child wants you to read over and over, THEN you can buy it. Certainly use your library before buying anything you haven't read from online sources.

If you are interested in buying your own math related books, I have several suggestions. I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss books. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb introduces large numbers. Ten Apples Up On Top! is a good counting book. One fish two fish red fish blue fish is good for counting and colors. Horton Hears a Who! even introduces the concept of infinity. Many other Dr. Seuss books contain number concepts, colors, and shapes for reading with your child.

You may have read about or heard of Baby Einstein. If so, you need to know that having your young child watching the videos is a very bad idea ! Research is showing that there should be NO SCREEN TIME for children under two and very limited time for the older child. However, the Baby Einstein My First Book of Numbers is a wonderful example of what a number picture book should be.

The Sesame Street book ABC and 1 2 3 is also an excellent math related picture book.

As you look into buying math picture books, there are some things you need to consider. The book should be colorful, interesting to you, and it needs to make sense – not just rhyme. Don't assume that because it is about numbers that it is a good book. For example, I came across a book called One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boyton. I actually got confused as I read! One line said "… and when you want to explore, the number you need is FOUR." WHY? What does four have to do with exploring? Another page said "Seven is perfect for a play." Again, I questioned what that even meant. Any book you pick needs to be something you can talk about with your child. Choose books that you can read with enthusiasm. If a book doesn't make sense to you, don't buy it. I want to reiterate that it is not necessary to buy lots of number related books because you can find number concepts like counting and making comparisons in virtually any book.

As you read to your child, you should work on what is called "the language of space." This refers to words like front, back, top, bottom, over, under, in front of, behind, first, last, in, on, corner, edge, surface, and so on. These are all important concepts for your child to understand when they start school. They can't line up behind the blue line if they don't know what 'behind' means.

When you are reading to your child, be sure to:

  1. Hold your child in your lap.
  2. Convey to your child how much you enjoy your reading time together.
  3. Read everyday.
  4. Get involved with the story. Read with lots of enthusiasm and expression. Use different voices. Be active by pointing out things on the pages. Ask questions.
  5. Pay attention to your child's responses. Know when to put the book away. If your child loses interest, do something different.
  6. Be prepared to read the same book over and over and be enthusiastic each time.

Above all else, make reading FUN!

Mobile Learning – In the Beginning, There Was the Abacus

“Math is hard. Math is complicated. Math is boring.”

Fortunately or unfortunately, math is important. Mathematics is the most widely used subject in almost every career, and often high paying jobs demand someone who can “do the math”.

According to 2007 Department of Education statistics, only 31% of eighth graders score at or above “proficient” level on standardized math tests. In some school districts, high-school-algebra failure rates approach 50%.

From the very first abacus, the teaching and learning of mathematics has always been a challenge. Over the last two decades educational ‘technologists’ have developed and studied uses of computers specifically for mathematics education. The necessity of a handheld device for mathematical uses has been in development for the past few decades.

The recent past saw advanced calculators created by a few leading makers, like Casio and Texas Instrument, which were designed to provide specific applications for mathematics learning.

Similarly, TI’s handheld mathematical PDAs offered solutions to many challenges such as helping teachers know which students had trouble with which mathematical concept in “real time”, and enabling students to independently experiment and explore concepts as they are taught.

The availability of a ubiquitous technology like m-learning can play an effective part in teaching and learning of mathematics.

In the article, “Cellphonometry: Can Kids Really Learn Math From Smartphones?” the writer details how schools are successfully partnering with mobile-phone companies to help kids conquer math. The results speak for themselves.

Similarly, an experiment conducted by the National Taiwan Normal University indicated that mobile learning improves students’ ability to connect the dots between mathematical theories and practical problem solving, as well as their attitude towards learning math.

The reason conventional math is considered tedious is often because lessons are taught as static numbers on a page. Math itself is an interactive subject, and students need to be able to visualize and grasp math concepts to understand them. Mobile learning enables just that.

By including video examples of data collection, animated graphs and packaging math lessons with unique embedded media, mobile learning lets students maximise the interactive nature of technology to effectively communicate what is otherwise a hard subject to learn.

Read more about Mobile learning in Mathematics

Sources:

“Mobile phones in Education: the case of mathematics”, by Michal Yerushalmy & Oshrat Ben-Zaken

“Constructing Mathematic Paths in a Mobile Learning Environment”, National Taiwan Normal University, Lin-Jung Wu, Kao-En Chang, Hsien-Sheng Hsiao, and Yao-Ting Sung

Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Time to Reflect and Evaluate

We are now one-third of the way through this series. This is a good time to reflect on and evaluate your progress with helping your pre-school child develop math skills. What strategies worked as you hoped? Have you encountered any problems? Do you still have a clear view of what you are trying to accomplish and why?

In the introductory article of this series we discussed the research finding that the critical years for learning logic and establishing a solid math foundation are ages 1 to 4. Equally startling, from continued studies, are results showing that a child's math skills at kindergarten entry are a better predictor of future academic success that are reading skills, social skills, or the ability to focus.

Read that again! A child's math skills at kindergarten entry are a better predictor of future academic success than even reading skills. This result is HUGE! I hope this fact brings into focus just how very important your efforts are for your child's future.

At this point you might be thinking that you should transfer the responsibility for math learning to an organized preschool, but I strongly caution you against this idea. Preschool, whether started at 3 or 4 years of age, can be beneficial, especially for social skills, and might become appropriate for your child. However, it misses those initial critical years for establishing a good math foundation. In addition, as this knowlegde of the importance of preschool math education becomes more widely known, more programs are being devised that rely too heavily on "seat work." Preschool children lack the motor skills and attention span to be successful in an all seat work environment. Sadly, in too many of these programs our very young children are losing their enthusiasm for learning. It is imperative that this NOT happen to your child!

Now might be a good time to re-read the second article in this series: 7 things You Must Always Do. Realize that these procedures and attitudes are important for all learning to occur. In fact, you have probably used most, if not all, of these as you have worked with your child's language skills. Realize, too, that most of the early math skills can be handled along with the early language skills. Learning to count – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … –is the same skill as learning to say the alphabet – a, b, c, d, e, … Learning to write numerals can accompany learning to write alphabet letters. Your child's expanding vocabulary can and should include math vocabulary as well.

So far in this series, we have discussed helping your child master counting, number recognition, using number lines, focusing on "if-then" thinking, addition, subtraction, number families, even and odd numbers, and a quick look at some simple number patterns. Hopefully, you are taking advantage of "teachable moments" rather than trying to schedule learning sessions. Your routines, like trips to the store, fixing meals, play get-togethers, going to the park, bedtime reading, etc., provide many opportunities for learning to occur.

Let your child's interest and enthusiasm guide what you do, when you do it, and for how long . Frequently return to previously learned skills to check that their understanding is still present and correct. This will let you know if you need to re-teach a skill. Know that having to re-teach is a normal part of learning and does NOT indicate a failure on your part.

I am going to postpone articles introducing new math skills until after a few articles that will address some related issues, like the importance of reading to your child, fixing learned mistakes, task analysis, and learning styles, continue working with your child as you have been, always staying positive, keeping things fun, reinforcing success, and paying close attention to your child's body language and mood.

Points to remember with preschoolers:

  1. Children learn at their own pace. They will pick up some skills quickly while other skills will need repeated practice.
  2. Children need to be actively involved in their learning. They must DO things rather than watching and listening to you.
  3. Repetition is necessary for learning to occur. However, make certain that what is being repeated is correct . Practice only makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Keep up the good work with your preschooler! Never lose sight of just how important you are to future success.

Science Education and Art Education: The Perfect Pair

After years of touting the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educational programs, many teachers are discovering that by adding an "A" –for ART– student learning will pick up STEAM! This latest understanding of how students learn is changing science education by adding Art education back into the mix. This integrated education approach is developing a proven track record and being incorporated into public, private and homeschool education.

At its inception, the STEM bill authorized over 150 million to help students earn a bachelor's degrees and teaching credentials. It also provided millions in additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college.

Now years later, people are asking questions like: Why are math and science viewed as standalone modalities? Why have so many schools dropped Arts education from their curriculum?

For too long, we have wrongly believed that Science and Art education were separate disciplines that demanded different teaching methods. However, now we know that Science and Art, as well as Math and Music are intrinsically related!

Educational researchers are recognizing that it is important to integrate all modalities into STEM lessons. By broadly using an integrated education curriculum, students are able to see how science education is important to aspects of everyday life. Integrated education also affords the opportunity for real-world application of the math and science education knowledge.

The use of Art as the glue that bonds these modalities shows students how form and function are guiding principles. Art is not merely illustrative or decorative, but represents an essential part of the process of inquiry, such as problem finding, problem solving, and communication.

The fervor that propels people to excel at mathematics and science education or engineering and art education are driven by the same desire: the desire to discover the intricacies and beauty in one's world and chosen work. Furthermore, Art is also integrated into technologies such as engineering in the "form and function" debate. Does form follow function or does function follow form? Either way the two are fundamentally linked. Cars are a perfect example: From the Model-T Ford to the latest concept car, we have seen that the evolution of technology is as much about aesthetics (form) of the product as it is about functionality.

Many of the fundamental concepts of form and function are the same. Line, shape, color, structure / function relationships as well as perspective, patterning, and sequencing are the language of art and science education. Students create "an artistic representation of their ideas and solutions is a valuable way to make learning personal. This allows for a clear understanding of the underpinnings of science principles and how these principles can be extrapolated to solve existing problems. It has been proven that students who previously had difficulty in STEM classes are picking up STEAM quickly!

Helping Your Pre-Schooler With Math-Brain Friendly or Learning Styles?

Whether because you have read my other articles in the Early Childhood Education category or because you have researched this topic online, you likely have questions about how the terms "brain friendly" and "learning styles" fit into your work with your preschooler. Certainly the goal of both is to help your child learn, so what's the difference? Is one better than the other?

"Learning styles" is the older concept and represents the results of several research studies trying to determine how we learn. You will find a summary of these findings in my article "Learning Styles-Should I Have my Child Tested?" (The answer is NO.) These concepts were essentially guesses, based on observation of behavior, about how the brain takes in and stores information. Guesses as to how the brain learns.

I recommend that you read that article to familiarize yourself with the terminology because you are likely to encounter some or all of these concepts as you further study early childhood education. You may even encounter teachers in your child's future who still hold onto these concepts. Some of these attempts to explain how we learn have more merit than others; there is some truth in each; but none provided the full answer. The concept of learning styles has lost favor in the field of education. In my research for this article I was surprised at how many articles and videos referred to "debunking" this concept of learning styles.

Having taught in public schools in the '90's when we were encouraged to test our student's learning styles, and students were often placed in classes where their learning style matched the teacher's style, the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčlearning styles being "debunked" initially seemed impossible. However, this change in attitude about education is the result of new developments in brain scan technology, brain surgery, and brain research. We no longer have to guess how the brain learns. We have lots of research and practical verification of techniques that have proven effective for learning to occur.

The field of brain based education and learning is only a couple decades old; and the field is not without its critics; but even Harvard University now offers master's and doctoral programs through its MBE – Mind, Brain, and Education – program. The study of brain based education is about learning what techniques parents and educators should use to best engage the brain in learning.

Now that we know how the brain actually learns, it is important the you use brain friendly techniques as you work with your preschooler. You don't need a teaching degree to use brain friendly techniques. I will now summarize here things you need to consider when you work with your child. The brain needs color, exercise / movement, a variety of activities, novelty, processing time, music, limiting stress, information in small "chunks," plenty of rest, introduction to "the arts" – dance, drama (acting things out ), and art, frequent review, good nutrition, and more. There are many specific techniques that teachers use in their classrooms, but this list will give you a good start for working at home ..

There are a few things you should notice from the list:

  1. These activities actually utilize all the different concepts of learning styles, which is why you don't need to test your child, and why I did not list them. Using brain friendly techniques addresses what you need to know about learning styles.
  2. You are already using many of these techniques. You are already working in short periods of time, giving time for processing, lots of review, movement, different kinds of activities, watching your child to avoid stress, etc.
  3. Skill & drill worksheets are NOT brain friendly. There are hundreds of sites online offering worksheets for your preschooler. However, unless these worksheets have lots of color, novel and varied activities, are short, are self-checking to avoid practiced mistakes, and you are willing to oversee every moment of their use, you should avoid using them!

If you want more information about brain based learning, I recommend reading Eric Jensen, David Sousa, and / or John Medina.

The answer to the initial question is that "brain friendly" is the learning concept you need to incorporate into your work with your child. Notice that I have not even mentioned math because these techniques are for ALL learning. Remember to always stay positive with your child, be enthusiastic about learning, and avoid boredom in your child. Boredom actually destroys brain cells, and we certainly don't want that!

Is The Use Of Calculators Good Or Is The Myth That Says Calculators Make Students Lazy True?

A calculator is a great tool that allows for the mathematical exploration and experimentation and thus enhances the students understanding of concepts. Before I go into the benefits of the use of calculators in education and how to efficiently use them I would like to, first, state the types of calculators available today.

We can classify calculators into two types. The fist type is a calculator that evaluates expressions. This type is used to replace the manual tedious paper and pencil arithmetic. The second type of calculator is the special functionality calculator for example the graphing calculator, the algebra calculator, the matrices calculator… etc. These calculators are used for exploration of concepts. Each type of calculator can fit in mathematics education in its unique way and needs the syllabuses to be specially written to incorporate it in education.

Recent studies show that calculators are evaluable tools for mathematics educations. Instead of the student spending his time in tedious arithmetic calculations he can spend his time in developing and understanding concepts. Many students in the past have been turned off mathematics because of the long tedious calculations and students who were efficient in these calculations were considered good at mathematics. Little attention was made to the dissolve of concepts. They hardly had anytime left to concentrate on concepts. Today with the use of calculators the students spend all their time understanding concepts and the logic behind mathematics. They can relate the concepts to real life application. The overall education experience became richer. This is why calculators are recommended for all education classes from kindergarten to college.

Some may argue that this way the student may become lazy. The reply to this question is consider you are giving a primary school student a problem that he has 100 dollars and went to the market and bought five items of one commodity for a certain price and three items of another commodity for another price and he paid the 100 dollars then what is the remainder that he will receive. Now what is the mathematical quest of this problem? Is the question here how to do arithmetic multiplication, addition, and then subtraction? Or is the question is that the student should know what is going to be multiplied by what and what is going to be added to what and at the end what is going to be subtracted from what? Of coarse the mathematics of this problem is the procedure he is going to do to find the remainder and not the arithmetic process itself. In the past overwhelming the student with the arithmetic operations made many students miss the idea and the concept behind the problem. Some others did not miss the concept but were turned off altogether from mathematics because of the arithmetic operations.

Here I have to emphasize that it is true that calculators are good for education but still one must know how to make them fit nicely in the education process. Students need to know the arithmetic hand calculations. They must study how to do that manually. When the prime concern of the mathematics problem is how to do the arithmetic students should only use the calculator to check for the answer i.e. to see if it matches his hand calculation.

So the rule for using calculators is that the teacher should check the point of the mathematics problem and the concept it is teaching. If the calculator is doing a lower level job than the concept behind the mathematics exercise than it is fine. However, if the calculator is doing the intended job of the exercise then it should be used only to check the correct answer.

In addition, education books should write examples that use calculators to investigate concepts and teachers should lead students in classrooms to show them how to use these examples with calculators to dissolve concepts.

How to Solve Problems in the Mathematics Education Using Calculators

Mathematics is a very important element in the development of the value and standard of the life of the individual and society. Mathematics enters in everything from science, technology and engineering to arts and social sciences to economics and decision making.

It is very important that society constantly produces new generations of well trained mathematicians. This means that the school should increase the student's interest and develop his skills in the subject. To achieve this goal the school should see the reasons why students fear mathematics and why many students do very poorly in the subject.

The fist reason for the difficulty of the subject for students is that mathematics is abstract. It is not tangible they can not hold it. To make them understand a pure concept at this early stage is very difficult. They need to relate it to real life problems that they face in their daily lives. This way they will be stimulated by its importance for them and will see that it is useful and fun. Moreover, the use laboratory experiments using calculators would make concepts more understandable. There are many new innovative software calculators built just for this purpose.

The conventional system of teaching mathematics contributes significantly to the poor performance of students. This is because many teachers teach students how to implement algorithms without teaching them the idea behind the algorithms and there is no stress on the understanding of the concepts. This causes the interest level in the subject to decline and soon students develop a disassociation with the subject. To solve this problem the schools can create a mathematics society and a forum where students can communicate with each other discussing material and asking each other questions. This kind of social behavior may increase the student's interest in the subject.

Students pass early mathematics classes and they are not really fit in the subject. This is because the exams and grading did not reflect the student's true ability. This causes the students to have very big problems in senior mathematics classes which are dependent on the early classes. For example if we look at the early pupil stage we can imagine a pupil who does not understand the concept of divide and multiply. That is to say when should he divide and when should he multiply. Now can this pupil at a later stage know to solve a word problem? The answer is surely no. He will not know what we are talking about. We can also imagine a student who does not understand the concept of the algebraic equations. This student could not be asked to plot a graph because simply he will not have an idea about what we are speaking about. The teachers can use calculators to teach pupils the concepts of multiply and divide. They can let them experiment on their own with many numbers using the calculators. From the observations the pupils will understand the concepts of multiply and divide. Moreover, teachers could use calculators to teach students the concepts of functions and graphing. It is easy and fun using calculators.

Finally, those who are teaching mathematics may have sufficient knowledge in the subject. They usually have a mathematics degree but this is not enough. To be a teacher you certainly got to be strong in the subject but this is only one major factor in being a successful teacher. The teacher should know about education and student psychology. he should also have a strong personality and be a good leader.