Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teaching children to add and subtract...

Is not an easy thing to teach children. My oldest son is semi-adopted so I have a continual problem with mutual respect. Bonding between parents and children rears its head over time and this is one of its outcomes. Maybe I should have asked him to do his homework before he started playing runescape.

Anyway, he is now trying to work his way through a series of questions on subtraction and additions which has driven his emotional temperature up a notch. I attempted to show him another way of calculating and this ended up in a major flare up. It appears that children take things literally. I ended up grounding him and ungrounded him after. Even threatened him with the cane. I bet this comes back and bites me later.

I have decided that I've done everything wrong thus far and to go back to the source of the problem, namely poor teaching skills by his teachers. Their own understanding of base 10 additions and subtractions (actually base anything) is lacking so they make very large assumptions on what the child understands. My son is doing well but he does not seem to understand the fundamentals of what he is actually doing. How typical, and what good feedback.

The first thing that must be done is for the teacher to get the process of understanding correct. Those little squares in the mathematics exercise books are there to hold a single number. Start at the ones first, then the 10's, then the 100's and so on and work your way from right to left. Working your way from right to left ensures that the work is not only neat but the ones, the tens, the hundreds etc end up in the same coloums. Mistakes are less likely that way.

I must remember to speak to the tutor on this particular issue or my son will be another intuitive mathematician.

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