Young Parents Team
How do I help my kid build a good foundation in maths?
We ask Benjamin Ng, director of training and development at Eye Level Learning Centre, which desgins and tailors enrichment programmes so children can learn and progress steadily at a comfortable pace.
When a child develops a solid mathematical foundation, you will be amazed at how the stress caused by poor maths skills disappears. Building this requires a systematic approach. Basic Thinking Mathematics and Critical Thinking Mathematics are the foundation.
Let’s start with Basic Thinking Mathematics, using an example of what appears to be a simple maths fact: 3 + 5 = 8
This fact seems like a good lesson to teach, once a child can count. But the ability to appreciate the concept requires an understanding of these elementary concepts:
Quantity Realising that numbers of items can be counted.
Number recognition Knowing numbers by name, numeral, pictorial representation, or a quantity of the items.
Number meaning Resolving the confusion between numbers referring to a quantity or to the position in a sequence (cardinal versus ordinal numbers).
Operations Understanding that quantities can be added and that this process can be depicted with pictures, words, or numerals.
The other arm in building a good mathematical foundation is Critical Thinking Mathematics:
Number sense and operations Arithmetic and place value.
Algebra Learning to recognise patterns and sets (“pick the small red fish”) creates the groundwork for working with unknowns and algebraic variables.
Geometry and spatial sense When children build on their knowledge of basic shapes, they increase their ability to reason spatially, read maps, visualize objects in space, and eventually use geometry to solve problems.
Measurement Learning how to measure and compare is an important life skill that encompasses the concepts of length, weight, temperature, capacity, time and money.
Data analysis and probability Using charts, tables and graphs will help children learn to share and organise information about the world around them.
(Photo: Irina Schmidt/123RF.com)