Thursday, November 17, 2016

Repost: Our Math Games

This is one area of our homeschooling that I don't blog much about because I find it really boring to write about the teaching of Maths.

But it doesn't mean that I neglect coaching the kids on Maths. In fact, we started laying the foundation since the boys were barely a year old.

I don't use library or assessment books to teach Maths concepts. Neither do I find it necessary to buy a set of Montessori materials or Maths curriculum just for home-learning.

While books may give some parents ideas of what and how to teach, and some kids may be keen to read such books, they put me off. I find the dumbed down language found in most of such books very annoying.

For preschool Maths concepts, I still find it best to use concrete objects that we can find in our household.

Since the boys were tiny tots, we have been introducing Maths in ways that are meaningful to them using real-life examples that they can relate to. Throughout our daily routine, there are always tons of teachable opportunities to encourage application of Maths concepts.

On top of that, we play plenty of games, both store-bought and home-improvised, to discover the boys' strengths and weaknesses.

Playing snake and ladder with his soft toy.

Like the Monkey Maths game, this Bus Stop game teaches simple addition and subtraction. The boys played with it for a while when they were under 4 years old.

I still think that to master Singapore Maths, as long as a child is strong in English, it is more than half the battle won. So I don't spend much time coaching the kids on Maths.

With M, I only began more serious sessions this year when he started Primary One. Since the bulk of his school work this year is a revision of Kindy 2 materials, I decided to introduce heuristics and the more challenging questions at home to keep him on his toes.

Chip, on the other hand, has always had a keener interest in Maths than M since young. But I didn't do much with him till he was nearly 4 because I don't believe a child this age will benefit that much to be advanced in Maths. So what if he can divide big numbers or understand fractions or do algebra at 3 years old? He will still have to go through the Maths lessons in kindy and be totally bored by them.

So instead, I focused on our trans-disciplinary thematic learning and lapbooking that will open his mind, teach him to be inquisitive, help him develop critical and creative thinking skills, as well as strengthening his mastery of both languages.

By the time Chip was about 4, the age when M was fascinated by Geography and we were spending lots of time exploring related themes, I channelled the same amount time playing home-made Maths games with Chip.

I remember it was during one of our weekly strolls to M's school on tennis days, perhaps in February or March, when Chip decided to rote count all the way to 1000. Then he counted backwards. That was followed by counting in Mandarin. It became one of the games that he would play every week as we strolled in the hot afternoon sun.


That was about the same time when he started learning addition and subtraction up to 100 with a simple game that I prepared.

I like it that it is so scalable, cost me nothing (I already own those pegs) and so easy to get ready.

With this kit, he learnt the concept of Tens and Ones. I taught him to 'visualize' the pegs in his mind, a skill which I think is key to mental calculation.

A few months after we started playing this game on a weekly basis, he masters addition/subtraction up to 100 and work them out mentally. He loves quizzing us with his own set of problem sums and in the process gets plenty of practice. Then he proceeded to explore negative numbers, fractions and took interest in skip counting.

The last I played any Maths games with him was a few weeks before baby's arrival.

It's time to resume.

Originally posted HERE on 8 Nov 2011

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