Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Maths - the correct way

During the 1st term (Jan - Jun), the homework which YX brought back from school are not that much whereby he can finished them before we came back from work.

However, as he entered the 2nd term (July - Dec), his homework multiplies and gets tougher for him to solve. He started to 'keep' his homework aside despite warning from MIL and always waited for us to be back from work before he is willing to do. When I checked with him, he said he don't understand how to do them. One of the homework he dreaded to do is MATHS !

Previously, the sum are in smaller numbers. eg : 10 - 2 = ? ; 6 + 2 = ?  whereby he can use his little fingers to count.

Now, the sum are getting bigger and he was unable to count them by using his little fingers anymore ! 

Yesterday, he brought back 2 pages of Maths workbook to solve. All the number given were big numbers.

Example No.1 )
46 - 13 = ?

In his school, the teacher taught the kids to count by drawing circles on the smaller number. Referring to the above sum, the kids are supposed to draw 13 circles. Then, countdown (descending) from no. 46 while cancel the circle one by one until all the 13 circles are being cancelled. The answer will be 33.

The problem here is, YX does not know how to count using the descending order. He only managed to mesmerized the ascending order. So, I helped him to draft out a table where he wrote the numbers from 10 - 50. By referring to the table, he don't have to think so hard on what number comes before what number and so forth.

He can only do this method at home, but what if during exam time ? He got nothing to refer. So, we tried another method. We taught him to break the number into two.
- 13
We taught him to count the number separately (6 - 3) first, then only count (4 - 1). The numbers are small and he can use his fingers. He did very well. But, when it comes to number like.....

Example No.2 )
36 - 19

YX was unable to do the sum.

- 19
YX don't understand how to count 6 - 9 as he don't understand how to 'borrow' 10 from the front number which makes 6 = 16. 

I was pulling my hair while explaining to him. I just don't have the patience to teach him while he just do not understand ! At the end, hubby help him with the maths while I accompany XJ to sleep. It was way passed his normal bedtime and he was still struggling with his maths homework. Even MIL sat next to him to help out a bit here and there. 

In the bedroom, I suddenly thought of this post by All About Your Child. I'm glad I did not say that hurting word to him but I admit I did raised my voice. That post makes me think, maybe our methods are wrong ! Maybe we should think of other way to teach him to help him improve!

When I saw him sleeping soundly that night, I pitied him. I don't know why, but I just felt that way by looking at his innocent look. Whatever method we used to teach him, the most importance is Patience ! Patience ! Patience !


  1. hey, if it makes u feel any better, last time i didnt raise my voice but flung his maths book! see how impatient I was!!! I still remember it till today though my son doesnt, thank goodness.. i guess we are impatient bec we expected them to catch up fast... we didnt put ourselves in his shoes... someone told me, can you in a child's mind for a moment and think like a child..
    Yes, about the borrowing method, I think it is still the best method to teach.. haha...

  2. gosh, the maths he is doing now is tough. my girl just learned the big numbers this year and she is 6. i forgot which method the teacher used and she was struggling too.

  3. first i think the teacher's method is not good.. cannot always draw little circles and count backwards, this will not work.. they should have thought the correct and scientific way it should be.. and parents are just to help and enhance the children's skill on what the teachers have taught them in school..

  4. Maths is hard in the beginning, so I think just pay more patience and he'll eventually good at it~

  5. Ya, the "borrowing 10" part is quite tough and not easy to teach. Not many kids can grasp the idea immediately. YX is a smart boy.. I'm sure with proper guidance and more practice, he will get it in no time. Just be patient with him ok.

    (Actually it's easy for me to say "just be patient" to other people when I'm just as impatient myself haha. So far I've only taught C the addition with "bring over 10" but not subtraction yet).

  6. Maths is not easy to teach rite...my son having difficulty to solved it too...I was trying to help him to think faster but their mind set are limited...hahaha...need more patience i guess.

  7. Bananaz had the same challenge when as a kid can't even count on simple subtraction what more need to 'borrow' 10. Need more time and new method, agree with the link never to say 'stupid' to any child we are just a bit slow. Remember Forrest Gump ~ 'Momma says stupid is as stupid does'.

  8. haha so ngam I teach my girl math ytd too. She is using descending method too. But I tried to skip away this ytd. I think it's good to use count counter to teach him. Or maybe you could use the coin for visual display. I got plenty of 1 cents at home for her to practice her maths.

  9. I understand your frustration because I was in your shoe, a few months back. Firstly, I think the method to draw 13 circles and count backward doesn't help much here. My girl is using another method her teacher taught and she coped quite well with it.

  10. Breaking the numbers into 2 parts is easier, and children are able to understand that concept.

    Re the 'borrow' 10, my girl was taught this way:
    36 - 19: Borrow 10 from left number to make it 16 (on the right). Then count ascending from 9 to 16.... 10,11,12,13,14,15,16 -> 7 digits. This 7 is the answer for 16 - 9. Then continue to count the 'left' numbers 2 - 1 = 1

    Er... I hope I'm making myself clear here, coz when my girl explain the theory first time I was blurred too :p

    All the best!

    p/s: patience is the best method

  11. yes, the borrowing method is quite difficult to grasp. but you're right to teach the correct method instead of counting the descending way. Maybe he's tired at the end of the day. Try anther time when he's not tired and fresh, he's an inteligent boy, I bet he'll grasp it fast :-).

  12. Gwen was taught counting backwards too. Her school also teaches her the vertical way. But not the borrowing part yet. I explained to her once, she seemed lost. I didn't press her further. You are doing great in teaching him the correct method.

  13. Many will not bat an eyelid if anyone mentions "the chinese are born to be maths geniuses". But it is one subject that one easily dives into or totally succumbs in anguish. Hope your boy picks up momentum as time goes on. Yes, patience with him is the key. Perhaps enrolling him in one of the abacus maths tuitions may help lots.

  14. my qiqi even failed her semester 3 maths badly, very very badly. somehow, i feel that they might not able to catch the concept yet, so its seems useless no matter how much we explain hor....

    perhaps wait till they are bigger?

  15. i remember that last time, there was those "toy" counting device?? there would be 10 rows. each row would have 10 beads... using that "toy", you can do summation and subtraction up to 100. heheh...

    or else, have to learn the traditional "suan pan" liao...

  16. reanaclaire ~ Yes...u did makes me feel much better. hahaha.... And thank you for that sentence. I will try to be in a child's mind once a while to understand how to deal with them better :)

    mommy to chumsy ~ Hope Ashley will soon overcome the struggling part. I hope my son too.

    [SK] ~ I'm not sure if the teacher's method is standardize in every school ? I definitely cannot be a teacher because I don't have the patience

    Hayley ~ Practice makes perfect ya.

    Chloe ~ haha....let's chant "Be patience, be patience"

    Angeline ~ If you got the formula correct, maths is easy to score. I hope he won't give up and hate this subject. haha

    Bananaz ~ Ya... 'stupid' is very hurting.

    Vickylow ~ Ohh...the teacher using the descending method too !

    Yvonne ~ Thank you for sharing the method your girl is using. I will try on my boy to see how it goes.

    Boey Joey ~ That did not cross my mind. Maybe he is really tired... should let him practice more maths when he is FRESH in the morning. haha

    Mummy Gwen ~ Descending order too ! Maybe that is the standard way to teach young children to count ?

    Gratitude ~ I agreed with that. Many Chinese scores in Maths. hehe.... I've thought of that abacus but I'm afraid he will not be interested.

    Chinnee ~ We have to teach them as early as possible coz they can absorb better. Wait till older might be too late. And they might lost interest too.

    SP ~ Wah,...i never have that kind of 'toy' before. But I've seen my uncle using the traditional 'suan pan' to count.

  17. I find that the maths is too tough for 5 years old YX. Thank God that you are a patient mother.

  18. Sheoh Yan ~ Thks for making me feeling better. I'm not patience enough actually because I shouted at him. But when he was asleep, i felt so sorry for him.

  19. I think there's no mummies who never shout at their kids gua... No matter how we say to ourselves, we need to be patient but..... There's time we lost our patience, too!

  20. I was hopeless at Maths...so I could understand my daughter's situation. Somehow it seems that the way they are taught in school is the root of the problem.

    The teacher probably will show an example and never makes sure that they all can understand...and then give no less than 30 questions to drill them into learning how to answer such questions.

    They never explain the logic, the hows and the whys...just drill the students like robots. My daughter used to ask why when I taught, she could understand...but she could not make head or tail of what the teachers said. And to think that I almost failed Maths in Form 5 (Cambridge time).

    In the end, when she went to Form 4, she opted to go to the Arts stream despite her excellent results in the PMR. She also got excellent results in the SPM - that's why she could get the scholarship to do the overseas twinning programme now.

    If she had stayed in the Science side, she probably would have failed SPM. She obviously does not have a flair for Maths...just like the father.

  21. I also shout at my boy sometimes *guilty* followed by "a sorry" when I cool down. Other than patience, maths needs a lot of time to practise, practise and practise everyday. It took so much effort and time for my boy to grasp the concepts (add,minus,multiply,divide) and yet Maths remain his poorest subject among other subjects as he tends to lose most of the marks on carelessness now. *slaps forehead*

  22. Don't worry, your raising of voice is atill very mild. You know how's my mother's method ah last time when she taught me maths and that time I don't have the maturity to understand something a little more complex? She pinched and twisted my ears, even went on to cane me or use rubber slippers to beat my thigh. And sometimes when she caned, she caned until kena the head. Oh, she's very ferocious!

  23. p&p mum ~ ya...we are human with feelings. hehe...

    stp ~ Everyone are talented but in different areas only. It's all depending on what u choose and how you make it better.

    Inspired Momx1 ~ It is the formula. If u get it right, it will be the easiest sub to score.

    Alice Phua ~ oh dear... haha...no wonder you still remember them till now.

  24. My lil bro used to suck at maths too, but not after my mom sent him to those mental calculation class. During his high school, he was not only superb in add maths, but also physic, currently graduated frm Actuarial Science. U can try to train YX with abacus method, all the best.^^

  25. Alice Law ~ I actually quite like the Abacus system. It it pretty amazing right.

  26. I think for the borrowing method, he'll need to u'std the concept of ones n tens. That's y after borrowing 1 from the left (tens), u can add 10 to the right (ones).
    As for the patience part, sigh... I'm still vy bad at it. Let's jia you!

  27. Hi, first of all, you should not allow your children to use fingers to count. For example, 3 + 5 = , teach your child to count from bigger number from 5 and count up instead of counting from scratch. Then you need to teach your son the basic addition and subtraction facts. Once he know these facts by heart, it is easy to do big numbers.

    I happen to write a post on this and has a link to some great free worksheets that teach add/subtraction facts. Key to this is repetition and daily practice. Doesn't take long, just a couple of minutes a day. Try it and I hope it helps.



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