Tips to Help Your Child Understand Trigonometry

Trigonometric concepts were first used by Greek and Indian astronomers. Its applications can be found all through geometric concepts. Trigonometry has an intricate relationship with infinite series, complex numbers, logarithms and calculus.

Knowledge of Trigonometry is useful in many fields like navigation, land survey, measuring heights and distances, oceanography and architecture. Having ground knowledge in the subject is good for the future academic and career prospects of students.

Trigonometry has basic functions like cosine, sine, tangent, cosecant, secant and cotangent. Learning all these six functions without fault is the way to do success in doing Trigonometry.

Making a child understand Trigonometry is not a difficult task if one follows certain tips as follows.

1. Helping the child understand triangles with life examples: There are many objects that contain right-angled triangles and non right ones in the world. Showing the child a church spire or dome and asking the child to understand what a triangle is the easiest way to make a child understand the fundamentals of Trigonometry.

2. Brushing up Algebra and Geometry skills: Before starting Trigonometry, students should be confident of their basic skills in Algebra and Geometry to cope with the first classes in the subject. A student has to concentrate on algebraic manipulation and geometric properties like circle, interior and exterior angles of polygon and types of triangles like equilateral, isosceles and scalene. Algebraic manipulation is a basic mathematical skill required for entering any branch of Math. A basic knowledge of Geometry is equally important for understanding the basics of Trigonometry.

3. A good knowledge of right-angled triangles: To understand Trigonometry better, a student should start with right-angled triangles and understand their three sides (hypotenuse and the two legs of the triangle). The essential aspect of it is that hypotenuse is the biggest side of the right triangle.

4. Knowing the basic ratios: Sine, cosine and tangent are the mantra of Trigonometry. These three functions are the base of Trigonometry. Making a child understand these ratios with perfect comprehension helps the child move on to difficult topics with ease. The sine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the side opposite to the length of the hypotenuse. The cosine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the side next to the length of hypotenuse. The tangent is the ratio of the sine of the angle to the cosine of the angle.

5. Understanding non right triangles: Knowing sine rules and cosine rules helps a student do non- right triangles without difficulty. As such, children learn other three ratios (cosecant, secant and cotangent). Next, they have to move on measure angles in radians and then solving Trigonometry equations and thus their understanding Trigonometry becomes complete and perfect.

Practice plays a major role in understanding Trigonometry functions. Rote memorization of formulas does not lead to success in learning Trigonometry. Basic understanding of right triangles and non right triangles in the context of life situations helps students do Trigonometry without hassle.

With the online interactive learning methods available for understanding Trigonometry, it is not a hard task to learn the subject. If it is all the more threatening, students could access Trigonometry online tutoring services and understand the subject without hassle.

3 Fundamental Tips To Overcome GED Math Test Anxiety

Most test-takers think that the GED math test, in itself, is difficult. But that mainly comes from their fear of the subject. If you think that the GED math test is daunting, then it will be. So the first step in conquering your GED math test anxiety is to fight your own demons.

The thing with the GED math test is that other than talent, you need hard work and determination to go beyond it. Math is basically not scary, but what gets in the way your passing the GED math test is your fear of the subject. Math anxiety happens when you’re so scared that it hampers your thought processes. You then feel hopeless, uncertain and you lose your self-confidence, possibly causing you to fail. It’s a battle of the mind, so to speak, that’s why you have to harness your mental powers to be able to beat GED math test anxiety. Here are 3 fundamental tips.

  • Believe that you have prepared well for the test. You ought to have backed it up with sufficient action, but you have to believe that your preparation for the math test is enough. You should have accorded ample effort for quality preparation for the test, such as by enrolling in a review center, other than studying an online course. A reliable review center will be able to provide you with GED math study guides and practice sheets that have helped many test takers as well.
  • Don’t wallow in self-pity. One problem that puts a dent on your confidence when taking math tests is that you might have gotten low scores in the subject for many years in school. This kind of fear is learned, and can be a predominant cause of anxiety. Whenever you are experiencing anxiety, you’re focusing more on your negative thoughts and your fears, consequently defeating your performance. Remember the saying that “If others can do it, so can you”. You can pass the math test even if your grades in math were bad. Unlearn your belief that you are dumb in math. As you take practice tests, some answers you did right and some you did wrong, right? Bolster your confidence by focusing on your correct answers. This will instill your belief in your success and make you feel good about your performance in math.
  • Affirm your positive thoughts. Practice positive affirmations- short verses that you mentally or verbally repeat to help change your thoughts or feelings about something This concept was introduced by neuroscientists in the 1970’s and since then has been popular. You can change the way you think or feel about math by mentally or verbally reciting positive affirmations, ultimately helping you combat test anxiety. Some of them are:

“I’m smart and I can solve math problems”.

“I believe that my brain has enough capability to help me find solutions to math problems.”

“Math is not a difficult subject, it just needs attention and focus”.

“I am prepared and therefore I will pass the GED math test”.

Many test-takers fail in the GED math test because they were overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. The key to not committing the same mistake is to control your fears. Preparation is the antidote that will pacify your anxiety. Do your best to study for the GED math exam and believe in yourself and your capability to hurdle this particular feat.

Easy Yet Effective Tips For Quick Mental Multiplication

Solving mathematical problems will be difficult if you do not know the basic math concepts along with how it must be done. Mathematics, in general, is difficult according to most people because it involves numbers. However, experts say that there are easy ways on how to solve such problems. In fact, experts have provided a couple of tips on how to take your mathematical skills to the next level.

Mental Multiplication Tips

Multiplying by powers of 5 – Multiplying a number by 5 seems to be the easiest and luckiest math problem to solve. If you are faced with a number multiplied with another number that is a power of 5, the trick is to recognize that 5 is equal to 10/2. This is indeed very helpful. For instance, you have to solve 38 x 5. What you have to do in order to get the answer in an instant is to multiply 38 by 10 and then dividing the product by 2. Thus, 38 x 10 = 380, and 380/2 is 180.

Squaring numbers that ends in 5 – Any time you need to square a 2-digit number ending in 5, the last digit of the answer will be 25. Also, the digits before that are given by multiplying the 1st digit of the number by the number which is greater. So if you are to solve 55^2, the last number will be 25. On the other hand, the previous digits are given by 5 x 6 (that’s the first digit multiplied by the number that is one greater). Hence, 55^2 is equal to 3,025.

Multiplying many 9s – There is indeed a trick if you are to multiply any number by 9, 99, 999, or any other number that is 1 less than a power of 10. If the mathematical problem is 48 x 9, you must recognize that 48 x 9 (10-1). The distributive property of multiplication suggests that this is similar to 48 x 10 – 48. Due to the fact that it is very easy to multiply by a power of 10, looking at the problem in this way will make is much easier to solve. Therefore, 48 x 10 – 48 = 480 – 48 = 480 – 40 – 8 = 432.

These are just some of the mathematical tricks you can implement so you get the product in an instant, without needing a paper and pen. You must be reminded though that it will take practice for you to be comfortable in using them. More information mentioned here.

5 Effective Tips To Teach Math For Slow Learners

Slow learners are not any different from the normal students in their intellectual abilities except that they are too distracted and the normal teaching methods do not help them comprehend what is taught. This is why you need special teaching methods for them. When appropriate method is adopted with adequate understanding and support from parents and teachers, these slow learners can turn out to be highly successful in all aspects of life.

There are several approaches and techniques that involve individual and group teaching based on the learning ability of a child, some of which are used by programs of learning centers for such children. These centers have specially trained teachers who use specialized software tools and teaching methodologies to make math and numbers more interesting. Here are five effective tips that professionals believe can help teach math for slow learners:

  1. Practical Lessons: Even normal students do not enjoy confined space for learning and it’s a higher challenge with slow learners. One of the best ways to get math into the child’s head is to make him do little additions, subtractions or multiplications that involve people, things, flowers, fruits, and other practical things that surround him during a walk or a drive.
  2. Teaching in Small Groups or Individually: Since students with slow learning ability require special attention, teaching them alone or in small groups would let the teacher focus on the specific inability of the student. Also, leaning in a group, with peers, would increase the social abilities of the child.
  3. Customized Plan: Students love classes filled with fun and creativity. That’s why several learning programs for slow learners have customized plans to polish the specific skills that these children lack. Hence, seeking professional help and having appropriate follow ups to help at home would be a great idea to teach mathematics to these children.
  4. Sound Therapy: This has remained one of the most successful methods, which involves using sounds and tools that stimulate auditory pathways and thereby aid listening and focus. Sound therapy also helps to enhance the auditory transmission process in brain by stimulating the muscles around the ear passage and helping to regain the original power or capability.
  5. Cognitive Training: The PACE or Processing and Cognitive Enhancement training program enhances the level of perception or cognition and helps the slow learners have increased attention span and focus, which is especially helpful in learning math. It also boosts the neurological connections and offers significant growth in the student.

How does the slow learner benefit

  • Adapting all the above methods and applying the right training program offers the following benefits:
  • Improved math computation skills
  • Better sequential processing and simultaneous processing
  • Sustained attention and working memory
  • Auditory processing and discrimination, which in turn boosts comprehension and more.

Complete support and appropriate methods of teaching can help any slow learner to be a math genius. So, be patient and use these tips to see how a slow learner starts loving and enjoying mathematics.

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!

10 Tips For Teaching Middle School Math

As a teacher for 11 years and middle-school math teaching consultant, I’ve seen a wide array of different math programs and classes. I’m sharing here the 10 best teaching tips I’ve compiled over the years.

1. Provide compelling content to study.

Years ago, a colleague I was working with said, “Maybe class can be fun, but I can’t make class compelling. I have to teach math!” It’s an assumption worth exploring.

Take Ron Berger’s middle-school math project to study levels radon in their own homes. Studying radon is boring. But Berger’s class project has got to be one of the most compelling projects in math class history. What if his students discovered dangerous levels of radon in the homes of one geographic area and published the results as they had intended? What would happen to real estate values in that area? What he found is that students were highly engaged in mapping, taking averages, looking at standard deviations- students that heretofore didn’t care one bit about radon or the other concepts.

So what’s the trick? The trick is that there isn’t one. You can’t trick students into finding something compelling if it isn’t. Take a little bit of time to develop a few topics of study throughout the year that you find compelling- the Economy, the Presidential Campaigns, the Human Body, etc. Find an authentic way to present your result- the paper, the web, a magazine. Keep the project small, authentic and do-able.

Students of teachers that do take this kind of time have better outcomes on state tests than students of teachers who only stick to the text. Almost any social studies context provides a backdrop for learning that adds depth.

Even teachers who hold a math “topics” class only once a month see real benefits, so you don’t have to abandon your regular class. And, you’ll find that students are more engaged when regular class is held.

If you want to go really deep and have solid administrator support, look into the school reform movement of Expeditionary Learning Schools who have an excellent approach to thematic teaching.

2. Don’t use extraneous rewards such as candy, purchase points, stickers, etc.

There is nothing more certain than seeing the culture of a math class decline over a period of years when a teacher bribes them. The intent of the teacher, of course, is good. A teacher cares about his or her students and wants the very best for them. “I don’t care how they learn math,” one teacher said to me. “I just want them to learn it so that they are prepared.” The teacher cared enough to purchase candy out of her own pocket, but the real message to students is this: the “positive reinforcement” of candy means “math isn’t worth doing on its own.” The research is clear on the matter too, and shows us that extrinsic, non-relevant rewards hurt learning.

Even if the effects aren’t immediate, over time so called “positive reinforcements” like these mentioned above erode an otherwise high-quality math program. As a teacher, you are much better off trying to create inherently compelling curriculum than buying candy.

3. Build a culture where students teach each other.

For many teachers, one student helping another is called cheating. But I actually found that the better middle-school math programs all encouraged students to team together at certain times throughout the week. The activities were usually graded as complete or not-complete, and when tied to meaningful tasks, such as building a survey together and collecting original data, student comprehension was greater than on individual tasks.

Building the kind of culture that works for student pairs or groups takes years and lots of practice. But before you give up and decide it doesn’t work, determine if you are following tips #1 and #2 first.

4. Give less, but more meaningful work, including homework.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study labels the curriculum in the United States as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Their review of math texts in middle-school found that some were almost 700 pages long. With heavy pressure to teach to the standards, as a teacher you might be tempted to skip and jump to many topics throughout the text. Don’t. It achieves little learning.

Choose the most important pieces before the beginning of the year, and keep it simple. Teach the concepts you do teach with depth.

The national advisory counsel formed from the study recommended “put first things first” and suggested that indeed, less is more. Take the time to cull the curriculum to a manageable size for your students, and present them with only that. If you have to “cover” standards, find out what standards and document when you indeed teach them in class. You’ll find that teaching with depth often reaches to a broad array of standards.

It’s helpful to know what’s driving the breadth. As the national study panel concurs, publishers are trying to meet demands of hundreds of different districts by including everything that any school might want. And while publishers have been attempting custom publishing, it is just as difficult to create a math curriculum for a small district as a large one. Thus, the challenges of book publishing lead to a single, uniformly created overarching textbook. Often this is a very large text or an entire series.

In the classroom, teachers and students become overwhelmed and unable to handle the scope or breadth of learning in this form. As teachers, we have to recognize that predominantly negative emotions surround math in middle-school, and that anything we can reduce those emotions will go a long way toward gains in learning learning. Placing a 500 page text in front of a 7th grade student is unlikely to help, so use it sparingly and build little, home-made notebooks for daily use.

5. Model thinking, not solutions or answers.

Don’t show a student how to solve something. Instead “think aloud”. For example, you might have a whiteboard with a problem up, and start by saying, “o.k., I notice that the 4 numbers I am to sum are all in the thousands category, and that the first is near 3,000, the second near 5,000, and the third… I am confused about…” Model exactly what you thinking including confusion, emotions, skills, strategies and more.

When you do this, also let your students know how mathematicians think. One piece of research that is helpful to know is that mathematicians spend a long time thinking about how to set up a problem, a little bit of time doing the problem, and a long time “looking back” by asking the question, “Does this make sense?’ Model that for your students, by putting up a complex problem on the board and spending time not just jumping into a solution, but just talking about what strategies you might use to solve the problem.

6. Provide feedback that is immediate, relevant to the task, non-comparative, and leads the way to next steps.

Many teachers believe that grading is a form of feedback. It isn’t. Grading, when done well, can be a form of assessment of learning, but the distinction should be clear. Grades are not an effective tool as assessment for learning. Grades are the end of the road, when you assess what has been learned, but they should not be intended to inform a student where to go next.

Take, for example, three groups of students who received different kinds of “feedback” on math papers they had “turned in.” The first group received only narrative feedback (no score) informing them where and how they made mistakes. The second group received a grade (or score) and narrative feedback. The third group received just a grade. Not surprisingly, the students who received narrative feedback improved when re-tested. Those who had received only a grade did not have the information to improve, and performed the same when re-tested. But here is the surprising part. There was no difference between “grade-only” group and the group that received the grade and narrative feedback. Why? The students who received both a grade and narrative feedback completely ignored the written suggestions and only looked at the score. “I got a blah, blah, blah… what did you get?”

Because we live in a world where grades and formalized assessments are so important, work with the system by differentiating assessment for learning and assessment of learning.

When you are grading, one guide is to reference Rick Stiggins strategies of assessment for learning. That way, when you are conducting an assessment of learning (i.e. grading), you’ll notice that you are momentarily stepping out of the role of improving a student’s learning and won’t have the conflict of trying to do two things at once.

7. Change mimeographed sheets to problems you and your students personally develop.

A pervasive aspect of our culture is to give out page after page of information. In faculty meetings, business meetings and conferences, hundreds of pages of documents are handed out. It makes us look organized and prepared. It’s also a way to “cover” content. But for a middle-school math student, it also makes it hard to determine what is important. Was it the fractions part? Was it the decimals section? Was it the number line? Was it the triangle puzzle problem? Was it the cartoon?

Instead of another mimeographed page, have your student write their own story problems. Tell them to add artwork for comprehension. Give them the latitude to make them fun. Celebrate them by posting them in class. Give them 5 home-made story problems they create for homework instead of a mimeographed sheet with 30 problems, and really dive into improving them through revision.

8. Use story to teach math.

Write a story, a real story with characters and plot, and add the math problem set. Write about wizards that need to use angles for their sorcery. Write about spice trading ships on the deep seas. Write a story that lasts a whole page before even getting to the math portion. You’ve engaged the right-side, or less analytical, part of the brain and you’ll see a powerful effect of enhanced engagement.

9. Get math tutor volunteers once a week for two-months before state testing.

As a teacher or administrator, spend time during the fall months by planning for and scheduling a single day each week during the months of February and March (right before testing) to have volunteers come in to teach math in small groups. But what’s nice is that if developed correctly, these volunteers don’t need to have any special training in math.

Start with a simple plan. Each student has 10 skills they have chosen to work on during the whole class tutoring session and have written down their practice problems in class. The phone calls are made, the specific planning with an administrator is done, and volunteers come in and help the students answer the 10 questions during class with support. Schedule tutoring once every week for two months before testing and see your scores greatly improve.

10. Work with the emotions your students have for math.

10a. Ask your students how they feel about math. Use a bit of class time periodically to gain a better sense of where they are. And, just let them feel how they feel. If they like math, they like it. If they are bored, empathize. If your students can’t stand math, you will gain far more ground by seeing their perspective than trying to prove they are wrong. As a teacher this is hard because we are so accustomed to trying to “fix” the situation, and of course, our ego is tied to student emotion. If our students are bored, we feel like we aren’t doing the right thing. But the larger truth is that there is an ebb and flow in all of us for the topics we are learning. When the boredom, frustration and negativity does emerge, try understanding it. Perhaps class does feel a little boring. That’s o.k. Sometimes it will. And then slowly, over a period of years, build those compelling pieces into your classes so that you punctuate boring times with excitement and joy.

10b. Go slowly. Changing the direction of your math class is like trying to change the direction of a large ship, especially when dealing with emotions. Even once everything is place for the changes to occur, you will notice the “ship’s” momentum going in the same old direction before you sense any real shifts. This is part of the process. It took me three years to develop a coherent math program at my middle-school and even then, we occasionally slipped in to old patterns. Good luck!

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!