Singapore Math is usually foreign to the GenX parents like me. And most often, I find it difficult to help my grade schoolers with Math because what I know seems to be foreign to them too!
To start this school year, here are some helpful tips from a talk by *Dr. Yeap Ban Har, an educator who taught at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for more than ten years.
Most of us learned multiplying numbers by rote memorization. When I was learning multiplication, teachers do not teach so much the “why’s” and “how’s”. As long as you can give the answer, then good!
Listening to Dr. Ban Har, I learned that there are so many ways we can teach children how to multiply, and not just by memorizing the multiplication table.
To learn how to multiply, children have to understand what it means. So 9 multiplied by 8 looks like this:
It is nine groups of eight dots.
“Start with what you know”
Multiplying 9 by 8 looks hard for many kids (and some adults too!). But if they start with what they know, it will be a lot easier.
10 x 8 is a lot easier. This is what most of us know. Using 10 x 8 = 80, we can figure out 9 x 8! Take out one 8 from 80 (80 – 8 = 72). Now we can solve 9 multiplied by 8 is 72!!! It is just like having ten groups of eight dots and just take away one group of 8.
If 5 x 8 is easier for you, then begin solving the problem with it!
5 x 8 = 40 and 4 x 8 = 32, so just by adding the two answers, you’ll know that 9 x 8 = 72!
You can also do doubling, and just have 2 x 8 = 16, and 2 x 16 = 32. This process makes the number to multiply smaller and easier.
“Use what you know to FIGURE OUT what you do not know!”
In Singapore Math, children are encouraged to arrive at their answers using several ways and techniques. You derive answers using reasoning strategies based on known facts.
Children are also allowed to work in groups, discuss with their peers how to go about the problem and collaborate.
These help the child’s brain to grow and later on be able to efficiently produce answers and solutions to problems.
Memorization is NOT encouraged. Do not worry if children cannot remember—they should be able to FIGURE OUT!
When children get better at the figuring out part, then they get to master the skill. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT! (not prefect!) So be sure that your kids are practicing the right things.
Hope all of us will have a great school year ahead!