Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Math pit stops

In the morning I'm queen of multitasking. There always seems an endless checklist of things to get done before the school bus pulls up. With hair going in every direction, I try to get everything done in time. Every once in a while, I'll forget a sandwich and off I go to chase the bus. Gratefully, I've had a lucky streak of not forgetting anything lately. Today I added one more task to my morning routine.

As my third grade son (way too slowly) brushed his teeth, I stood next to him reciting multiplication tables. My hope is that some of those multiplication facts will absorb into his video game addicted brain. Up to this year, my wise guy third grader has always done well in math. I never had to worry about whether or not his math homework was done correctly. Like my husband, he thinks like a math guy. I'm a word gal, so I like to steer clear of those tricky number problems :) When one of the kids has a homework question, I will ask if it is word or number related. In my mind's eye, I can see my husband sigh when it's a math question. He doesn't want to be up to bat sometimes when watching his sports channel. Anyway, I'm now stepping up to the plate to help my third grader with his times tables. I can handle third grade math questions. My sixth grade son knows to wait for his dad when he is stumped. My oldest is actually in an advanced math class, so I would definitely look a little perplexed when confronted with one of his problems.

When I was a kid, we were all told to memorize our multiplication tables. I think that was a very effective method to learn multiplication, and consequently division. For some reason, my son's school is employing a new mental math method to teach multiplication. I watch my son trying to figure out the multiplication problem by adding all the numbers in his head. It's the first time that I've seen him look frustrated over a math worksheet. I don't want this new math method to shake his confidence in his math ability. Now he is starting to dread his math homework. That is why I decided to have him memorize the multiplication tables. If I have to supplement his math education at home, that's what I'll do. I know that it can only help. Memorizing worked for all of us. Why abandon a tried and true method? Maybe this mental math practice will help him immensely when he gets into the older grades. I'm sure that there is some proven benefit to this teaching strategy. But for now, I'm going to put on my "math hat" (scary for me) and help my third grader get past this little hurdle. He will probably get sick of me when I start asking him to recite tables during different points of the day. Since I do have 4 kids, this quick stop and learn approach will have to do for now. Ten minutes here and there will hopefully make a difference for him. I just have to remember to take those little pit stops during my busy day. I think it's time for one of those big mommy fridge reminders "Do the times tables" :) Once it's in writing, it will stick in my memory. Hopefully, so will his multiplication tables!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! A day for joy and smiles!!

15 comments:

Mari said...

They seem to change their methods for math every few years. I know they were doing it another way when my kids were learning too. The memorization can't hurt!

shabby girl said...

Either you're a math brain, or a word brain. Isn't that the truth? I remember the point when I couldn't help my kids with math anymore, and it was earlier than I'd like to admit! I could feel that deer in the headlights look creep into my face!

kel said...

Hi I'm new here! Love your blog! I have always thought that writing things over and over helps me remember things!

Becca said...

My gosh, I am so not ready for those days! Hubby is the math wiz around here too. I am not a word gal though. Or any school subject actually! So I will probably not be much help at all!

Good luck!!

Joanne said...

I can't imagine not having the multiplication tables memorized! It's a math we use so much in our lives. I'm with you, a little effort with memorizing at home will put him ahead of the game.

Sara Moriarty-delaFuente said...

The lack of consistency really makes it hard. Both for the students and their parents. I think it helps to pay attention to what style of learning that your son responds to best. visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. that way you can adjust any help that you give him accordingly. geez, a mothers job never ends.

Teri said...

My daughter had a really tough time with multiplication. They didn't memorize them, either, like we did way back when. Frustrating.

CDB said...

I don't think I'm ready for this yet.. essentially, we'll be relearning algebra and calculus right alongside our children, I see! God forbid they have a question! I'm with you.. verbal/language, NO problem. Though I excelled in math in HS, it's been a long, long time.

T Rex Mom said...

Wow! Your mornings sounds so busy! Good for you for supplementing education. I've found the difference between a good school and a not-so-good school is the good one has lots more parental involvement. By the way, thanks for the comment on my husband's posting yesterday - he was SO excited to read the comments! (I'm hoping he gets the bug and wants to write a little more often.)

H.K. said...

Good for you for having your son memorizing his times tables! My son always loved math in elementary school, they had a new method of learning math. And then he had algrebra in jr. high school and the love of math ended.

Congratulations in the addition to many of your other duties, you are math tutor! I admire you for taking that role!

G said...

Math wiz here. Father was a computer science geek/mathematics professor, so it wound up becoming second nature.

Memorization and practical application is the only way to learn.

Anything else simply doesn't work.

Andrea said...

I don't like the sound of this mental math...memorization was hard enough! loL! :)

LuAnn said...

Good for your son! He will use that the rest of his life. Me - math and I never saw eye to eye.

The Write Girl said...

Hey Septembermom,

Memorizing the time tables is way easier than adding it up in their head. Adding up 12X12 seems a little bit complicated to me lol. In other subjects, it would probably be beneficial to understand what you are doing rather than memorizing like science, for ex. But in this case, your son will breeze by his math homework once he memorizes them. I hope math doesn't get to him. He'll ace his times tables soon!

The Write Girl said...

P.S. Hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day