Monday, April 4, 2016

A Bunch of Questions

This is my response to a set of interview question by a parenting magazine.

👀How can I help my child nurture a love for Mathematics?

😜Children who grow up having a love for mathematics are those who have cultivated a productive mindset about what mathematics is. 

You are unlikely to enjoy mathematics if you think that it is all about carrying out rote procedures, memorising and doing tedious computations. 

You are likely to love mathematics if you see it as a field where you figure things out and one where you see patterns.

Children who learn mathematics by manipulating concrete materials and using diagram, children who learn mathematics by interacting with other people, children who learn mathematics without being burdened by jargons right from the start, children who learn mathematics by constructing meaning for themselves, these are children who would love the subject.

👀What materials can I use to facilitate my child's understanding of Heuristics?

😜What does the word 'heuristics' mean to you? A heuristic is simply a way to solve problems. And there are many ways - act it out, draw a diagram, make a guess, write an equations are some examples of heuristics. Heuristics are rule of thumb that one use, often in combinations, to progressively move towards solutions of problems. How do adults facilitate children's understanding of heuristics? By choosing problems that lend themselves to the use of specific heuristics you want the child to learn and by letting them use the heuristics in their own way. Do not place too many constraints on the way they use them. Heuristics are pretty flexible and there is no one way to do, say, guess and check.

👀How often should my child practise math modelling so that he can be proficient in it? 

😜I think you mean drawing bar models. Mathematical modelling is more than just bar models. Children should always be encouraged to represent information using diagrams. They develop visualization when they do so. So, the answer is as often as possible.

👀How can I make Mathematics more relatable to real life situations?

😜That's easy because mathematics was created to describe and extend the world around us. You see multiplication when you see cookies on a tray. You create art by arranging shapes in a tangram set. Dice used in by rad games give rise to all sorts of mathematics problems. Quadratic equations describe the path of a ball thrown in the playground. Tennis tournaments can be described by exponential function. Our everyday language is peppered with mathematical ideas - you often say success is a function of hard work. 

👀How do I handle my child's frustrations in being unable to solve Mathematics problems?

😜By not spoon-feeding them right from the beginning. Children who are independent are resilient and not easily frustrated when faced with a problem they cannot solve straight away. 

Children who are frustrated easily when they cannot solve a problem tend to see mathematics as something that involves routines tasks which can be solved quickly using a formula. 

Find out the reason why they cannot solve a problem - is it the comprehension of the problem, is it the inability in handling multi step situations, is it the calculation? And provide help in that area.

👀How can I help/support my child if he is lagging behind in the classroom? 

😜Focus on basic skills and tasks that are routine.

Explore alternate ways - if long division (say 351 divided by 3) is troubling them, get them to see that 351 = 300 and 30 and 21, all of which are easily divisible by 3.

Use diagrams to help them visualize - it is much easier to see two-thirds of three-fourths using a bar model.

Avoid explaining solutions to children who are struggling to grasp ideas. Scaffold their learning by asking questions. Concrete materials and diagrams are always helpful.

👀Should I engage my child in collaborative learning (eg. learning circles) outside of school?

😜Collaborative learning is always good.