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Thread: Mathsapproach

02022012, 05:54 AM #1
Mathsapproach
Hi!
I'm writing you from Barcelona, Spain. I'm sorry if my English is not correct.
I have two daughters (10 and 7 years old). We've been home schooling for a year and a half now. We've been using T4L since last July. We're very happy about it.
We have a question about how people who use T4L do approach maths. I have some friends that use Kumon (HS and not HS), so they approach maths investing a lot of time doing lots and lots of pretty simple exercices (additions, substractions, multiplications and so on). My daughters hate it, it's terrible boring for them. On the other hand, at T4L there is not much of that. I see that my older daughter is doing sums and substractions with decimals, but she's not sure about how much 8 x 7 is (and so don't I).
I used to have a really high hability with sums and all this stuff when I was young. I used to work in my parents grocery store in a time where there were almost no calculators. I had to calculate in my head how much money 325gr of apples were if 1 kilo was 87 pts, and it was real life, with a customer waiting in front of me!! Nowadays, I have to think carefully how much 8 x 7 is... most of that hability is lost.
So, my question is: should it be better to do some sort of Kumon stuff, to give them some background and hability in basic aritmetics, or shouldn't I worry about it and keep doing exercices and problems and they will find this hability out by themselves using them instead of learning some abstract numbers with no "real" connection??
My apologies for the extension...
Rosa, mum of Marina (10 yo), and Sara (7 yo)

In my opinion, they will learn as they continue through the material in Time4learning. Most kids I know hate the repetition of doing workbooks. They become bored very quickly and come to resent it. If you really feel that they need extra help you could try the workbooks. But I doubt they will like them. I have the Kuman workbooks here but my son won't touch it. I bought the one for mulitplication thinking it would help him. There are some programs, like Times Tales that are very good for teaching math.
Kathi Homeschooling Mama to Twelve year old Dakota

02022012, 10:29 AM #3Senior Member
 Join Date
 Jul 2011
 Location
 TN
 Posts
 397
Hey, I am a long time Kumon fan and actually I now work there because I believe so strongly in the program. I vote for doing both. We are! I don't know if the North American Kumon math levels are the same as the Spanish math levels, but my 9yo is in level H: Linear Equations, Inequalities, and Graphing.
Kumon not only instills amazing computation skills it fosters independent learning. Also, at the higher levels where my son is now working it becomes obvious that all those "simple exercises" were cumulative and that the kids who have completed the work really do understand mathematics. My little man goes to a math tutor and it is very obvious that he can explain to the tutor exactly why he is doing every step.
(for those of you who are not familiar with Kumon math Kumon is a supplemental mastery math program that in the lower levels is similar in scope and sequence to MUS. The upper levels of Kumon, H and up, do not line up well with any US high school texts that I have seen, but it is still a phenomenal experience.)
Again, I vote to stick with it. Very few children enjoy actually having to put forth effort to do something every day especially when the end result may be years down the road. They lack the life experience to see the doors that you are opening for them.
But just like music practice, you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be a solid piano or violin player and progress through the material with mastery, you must practice. If you want to be a solid math student and progress through the material with mastery, you must practice. (Of course, there are always brilliant students that defy this rule, but generally speaking the more often you do something the easier it becomes.) Once they can flawlessly perform that Minuet or complete higher maths without struggle, they appreciate the skills they have gained through the habit of working consistently little by little.
Hope that helps
MandyLast edited by Mandy in TN; 02022012 at 10:31 AM.
ds Doodlebug 11yo
currently homeschooling with an eclectic mess of stuff
homeschool graduates:
ds Cashew 20yo
ds Peanut 22yo

Thanks for letting us know more about Kumon Mandy.
Kathi Homeschooling Mama to Twelve year old Dakota

02042012, 09:23 AM #5
Thanks to all
I should have said that my late mother was one of the first Kumon instructors in Spain more than 15 years ago. When she was still alive, we tried it about 4 years ago, when my girls were 6 and 3 and they hated it. It was a torture.
I understand what you say Mandy about the piano learning. They are learning piano and violin / drums and guitar, but it's been taking me a long time to remove the idea that maths are Kumon... Now even my older loves to do T4L maths in the iPad before going to bed!!
I was wondering whether it is important to be fluid with these abstract conceptions as adding and multiplications tables or not. In my case I lost the ability, as I loose my English when I do not speak it or write it for a long time... But when I need it again I slowly get it back. Would arithmetics be the same? What does it happen if you have not invested hundreds of boring hours repeating the same abstract concepts? Would you be able to create this knowledge or you would have it even deeper because it has been created not by repeating abstrat data but "real" perceptions?
Thank you very much for your opinions and help,
Rosa

02062012, 10:43 AM #6Senior Member
 Join Date
 Jul 2011
 Location
 TN
 Posts
 397
3 years old was pretty young to begin Kumon. 6 years old should have been fine for 15 minutes of Kumon math. You just make it part of the routine like brushing your hair. It should not have been a big deal and certainly not torture.
You said that you learned your math facts when you were a little older through real life experience and you say that you have now lost that ability. I learned my 4 operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) between 6 years old and 9 years old through speed drills at school. I have never lost immediacy of recall.
I also would not call this basic computation skill an abstract concept. Basic computation of the 4 basic operations is a concrete concept. (Basic computation can easily be demonstrated with concrete objects base 10 blocks, number lines, pieces of candy.) I have heard Kumon described as the drill component of Asian maths. Asian math texts are typically very conceptual. Drill is done outside of the texts, so the texts themselves tend to spend more time explaining why we arrive at an answer and less time on practice.
For us math is never boring and the time invested means that now at 9 years old my son can move beyond basic arithmetic into some really fun maths instead of repeating the same math each year with slightly bigger numbers. If no time is taken to learn basic operations with whole numbers, then learning those operations with fractions, decimals, and percents will be difficult at best.
This is typically where kids begin to get lost. They never had immediacy with the computation of positive whole numbers so they struggle in junior high with negative numbers, order of operations, fractions, decimals, and percents. When they hit high school maths, even if they understand the ideas (concepts) being presented, they have a difficult time remembering what to do with the computation.
Whether through Kumon or something else, in order to be successful with higher maths it is important that children know their basic math facts before they hit maths that expect them to incorporate several of those operations in a particular order with something other than positive whole numbers. If Kumon math was used in such a way that it was an awful experience that left bad feelings for math, perhaps your girls would not be able to use Kumon with joy in order to achieve mastery of basic operations. If that is the case, there are plenty of other options out there.
My middle son never did well with Kumon. He does not do well when he is timed. For multiplication, I gave him very large numbers and a multiplication chart. He liked the challenge of the larger numbers, and learned his multiplication facts through usage. After looking them up on the chart repeatedly, he finally arrived at the point where he just did not need the chart. Anyway, there are numerous ways to master the basic operations with immediacy of recall before moving beyond whole numbers. It is just vitally important that they do so before then. Otherwise you will be trying to teach fractions, decimals and basic facts all at the same time.
Hope that helps
MandyLast edited by Mandy in TN; 02062012 at 10:54 AM.
ds Doodlebug 11yo
currently homeschooling with an eclectic mess of stuff
homeschool graduates:
ds Cashew 20yo
ds Peanut 22yo

02062012, 11:21 AM #7Senior Member
 Join Date
 Jul 2011
 Location
 TN
 Posts
 397
I wanted to add How exciting it must have been for your mother to be part of the beginning of Kumon in Spain! I wonder though if, because she was there from the beginning, she felt the need to push and prod her grandchildren to go above and beyond the norm. If so, I understand why it was torture.
For us, I love the idea that children all over the world are doing the same maths as my child. I like feeling confident that my son would be a good elementary math student no matter where we lived and that in the future he may be able to earn a spot at university and do well in math whether that university is in the U.S., Japan, or anywhere.
Mandyds Doodlebug 11yo
currently homeschooling with an eclectic mess of stuff
homeschool graduates:
ds Cashew 20yo
ds Peanut 22yo

I think it is so important to learn basic addition and subtraction. I was in a store recently where the power went out to the cash registers. The clerk did not know how to add up the purchase or how to make change. This was a young girl who had recently graduated from high school. I think it's sad that recent graduates can not do the most basic math skills. I'm hoping my son will get over his hatred of multiplication soon so that he can master this needed skill. So far I let him use a chart to do his work. Hopefully with enough practice, he will learn the facts without the chart.
Kathi Homeschooling Mama to Twelve year old Dakota

02122012, 02:49 AM #9
We use KhanAcademy for practice. It's free and each child can have an account.
We are also using Life of Fred Math  Daughter loves it so we've stepped away from Time4Learning Math for the time being. She thinks the Fred stories are hilarious  and since the problems are worded in a fun way (at least, so far they are; we started with the Fractions book)  she's solving most of them in her head (even doubledigit multiplication problems; she's faster than me a lot of times).

We like Life of Fred also. It's a funny and engaging way to add to time4learning. And it only take a few minutes each day.
Kathi Homeschooling Mama to Twelve year old Dakota
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