Is drilling and practice all your child needs to excel in Maths? We spoke to our Math expert, Lau Chin Loong, from Seriously Addictive Mathematics as he clarifies some common misconceptions about learning maths.
1. My child can’t add, subtract, multiply, divide properly. He is going to fail Maths terribly.
First of all, it is a myth that a child will fail miserably if they do not understand the basic operatives (assuming the child is 7 years old or below) early in their lives. Every child learns at a different pace. What is most important is that they are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, and to learn the core fundamentals, rather than to memorize formulas and recite big numbers through rote learning. If indeed, they have been given the opportunity to discover and learn the core fundamentals effectively, and are still struggling with basic operatives, professional help may be required. But its still not the end of the world. Your guidance and encouragement will go a long way to building your child’s confidence in Maths and for him to learn to the best of his ability.
2. Only children who are left-brained will excel better in Maths.
Personally, I will not be too pre-occupied with such theories. Knowing whether your child is more left or right brained is a good tool to decide on which learning method suits your child better, rather than to judge your child on his future Mathematical prowess. However your child’s brain is wired, Maths is and will always be an important subject to him. Having said that, Maths nowadays involves a lot more creativity and imagination as opposed to merely logic and critical thinking.
3. For my child to do well, all I have to do is to drill him with Math assessment books.
For your child to do as well as he can, he must most of all, enjoy Maths, and know what he is doing. Often, drill and practice methods become tedious and children tend to function mechanically without thinking, and thus lose sight of the reasoning behind their methods. This does not mean that drill and practice is bad. So long as they understand the fundamentals, and understand what they are doing, they are practicing the right things. If they are just blindly going through the routine, they will get confused when exam questions vary from their practice, and they often do.
4. Teaching my child to learn math is difficult.
Yes, teaching young children math can be difficult indeed. When teaching, try to use concrete examples first. Use things that they can see, touch and feel. Then move on to drawing pictures to illustrate. If they are older, you may use more abstract examples of model drawing to problem solve. Parents should study their children’s math text and other supplementary books to familiarize themselves before attempting to teach. Otherwise, you can seek professional assistance from established enrichment centers to enhance your child’s learning experience in Maths.
5. The earlier I start to teach my child Maths, the better.
This is true so long as your child is not ‘forced’ into learning things they don’t quite comprehend yet. Studies have shown that early exposure to Maths in the real world does increase their IQ levels in later years. Children may begin to understand the concept of numbers as early as 3 years of age, even though they may not be able to write or recite numbers. The general guideline is to expose children to the world of numbers at around 4 years of age, but in a creative and fun way. Do note that being able to count from 0 to 100 is not actually learning Mathematics. Your child should be working on skills such as the ability to discern, classify and associate quantity with number representations. There are a number of enrichment centers that can hone these skills effectively. Do take some time to find out more from them.
By Lau Chin Loong
Co-founder of Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M), he is also the lead mathematics curriculum developer for S.A.M and the principal trainer for the franchise. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dalhousie University (Canada) and has an MBA from Leicester University (UK). He also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from NIE (NTU). Before co-founding S.A.M, he was a primary school teacher. He has taught at Swiss Cottage Primary School and Anglo-Chinese School (Barker). Chin Loong was in consumer banking at the United Overseas Bank prior to joining M.O.E. as a teacher.
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Seriously Addictive Mathematics In A Nutshell
SAM is an award winning Maths program based on the Singapore Maths syllabus, suitable for children from 4 to 12 years of age. The program is delivered through a combination of Worksheets learning as well as Classroom learning. Students learn Singapore Maths at their own pace, according to their own ability. The unique program is rapidly gaining popularity with parents in Singapore as well as in other countries like Malaysia, Thailand, India and the United States.