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by **cbollin** » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:46 am

Oh to be able to sit with you or talk on the phone. My 2nd dd is just slow in many things. I do still walk and talk her through the problems together. And model how to do it. But something in your post concerns me a bit.

**First:** Are you using some kind of math manipulative (blocks, legos, straws, whatever)? If not, **you need to still use tangible objects when teaching math to a young child **--- whether or not you use Singapore Math. We do not teach our young children abstract ideas without a concrete way to help. Mental math is almost a disservice to Singapore Math because it can lead people to think that they never teach with manipulative or have to teach only with abstract methods (symbols and equations). So – use blocks and let your child touch them and move them around.

**Second:** When you say she doesn’t know how to solve the problems without you first pointing things out --- are you talking in terms of she doesn’t know which symbols to use to write an equation (no worries yet) or that she really doesn’t know how to approach the thinking process of the problem? (I’d be worried) Does she understand what the problem is asking when it says things like “more than” “how many more”? What about when it carries over to real life (setting the table for a meal --- we have 2 plates, how many more do we need to be ready for the whole family?)

**Writing the symbols for the problem is not the first thing **to work on with any word problem. I’d work more on having her build the problem, or talk about it. The writing can be continued to be modeled by teacher with not big deal at this point in my experience. Both need to be done.

**Third:** For problems like “how many more is blank than unblank” --- this is confusing to a young student (in some cases). Why? Because **for a long time the student has heard that “more” almost always means to add **something. But this time, more is only part of the problem. They need to read the entire problem and not look just for a key word such as more. In this case the key words is really a phrase: how many more than. We are comparing the "difference" between the two. The "difference" is the answer to a problem involving subtraction. But you don't have to tell your student that at this point. But, it might help to rephrase the question of "how many more does Rahmat have than Samy" to say "well, what is the difference between their collections?" hmmmmm.

You have to make sure that you child understands the words that are being spoken. That has been the biggest struggle for my 2nd dd, who has delays in language and some auditory processing issues. Never realized until recently that all those years of doing speech/language therapy would carry over to math class. anyway....

I agree with Beth that sometimes it is very helpful to use smaller numbers to teach and to drill the process.

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Down to the nitty gritty of the how to's

Let’s take a problem like textbook 2A, p 27, #12.

Rahmat has 48 stickers. Samy has 32 stickers. How many more stickers does Rahmat have than Samy? (remember you could say it that way and then help your child know that you're trying to find the difference between the amounts and not "the total if you put them together in a big pile and counted them all together.)

**Play with an example that uses smaller numbers. **I would have my daughter practice with Rahmat has 8 stickers. Samy has 2. How many more does Rahmat have than Samy?

First, I would ask my dd --- who has more? (rahmat)

Then we would either draw something on the board or grab some math blocks.

I would have my child draw a line from each sticker in Samy’s sticker collection to a “friend” in Rahmat’s sticker collection. (Now you see why I dropped the 48 and the 32 ---we’d be drawing all day.)

Then I’d ask, “How many more does Rahmat have?” My dd would either see that it is 6 more or she would just count it at that point depending on how tired she is.

Then *I* would say “yes it is 6 more than Samy because” and I would write this on the board while saying it out loud 8-2 = (and wait for child to answer) Six.

Now, what if Rahmat had 48 stickers and Samy has 2? (well, my daughter would build this with blocks and then realize that she could have just done 48 take away 2 is the same as 46)

Now what if Rahmat has 48 and Samy has 32? ---- again, we would use a math blocks. I would have my dd build 48 and build 32 and then put the 32 over top the 48 and see what is left over.

Each time I would write out the equation. My dd is not struggling with the computation of such a problem so if all I did was write the equation, she’d get the right answer.

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Ok – that’s a long explanation and may not even be the problem that your child is working on. But I’m hoping it gives some insight into an approach to teaching math that focuses less on just knowing which symbol to use when. Sometimes you have to re-phrase the question so they hear and see the whole question instead of just one word in the question.

Let me know if that makes any sense.

--crystal