One of the books I brought back from the U.K was a beginners math book. It uses money as the focus and (at the beginning) keeps the problems simple. Recent experience with Australian students visiting my Japanese high school showed that of all the lessons they joined, the math lesson was the most stimulating because they could join in. There was no language barrier. Truly a universal language and another chance to practice writing skills; a simple math lesson seemed like a great idea for our morning 10 minute practice time.
I have been practicing simple addition with the sprog for some time now. She loves to be tickled, and the build up to being tickled is perhaps her favourite part. I started by asking her “What’s 1 + 1?” and holding up my fingers for her to count. After that came “What’s 1 + 1 + 1?” and so on until we got to five. The answer was never five though, it was ‘the tickler’, and the tickling began. As she got used to the format, so the questions became a little more difficult. “What’s 3 + 1?, What’s 4 – 2?” and so on. I feel that this gave her a good grounding for further math practice.
Yesterday morning, the sprog chose the math book from her rack of workbooks (I like to vary the morning practice sessions). I still had some pounds and pence from the U.K trip so I dug them out. The book itself is second-hand with the first few pages already filled in. No matter. It was a good excuse to introduce the number line.
Visit the Kahn Academy website and have a look at the elementary math video lessons. The number line is a great way to (further) introduce addition to a young learner. Drawing the number line is also a good chance to practice numbers and the fine motor skills needed to use a ruler and draw the linking lines. In fact, the whole math practice idea is just a great excuse to use some ‘out of the ordinary’ language with your sprog!
Today we practiced drawing the lines and writing the numbers, and had a few minutes spare for some addition practice. Try to make sure the youngster draws the looped linking lines to the actual number point itself or it could get messy. We write out the sum first below the line (5 + 2 = ) and then used the number line to find the answer. The second problem I gave was the first one in reverse (2 + 5 = ). I didn’t point this out as I think it is a little too early. We counted the first number in the sum first, then added the second. My daughter kept starting with the second for some reason particular to being 4 years old I suspect, but I nudged her in the right direction.
If you do give this a try, keep it light. Remember that you are teaching them a method, a process that if done correctly will be useful as they progress (especially if following the Khan Academy videos). They don’t need to fully understand the concept of addition in order to complete the process. Have fun!