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Is Your Child Using the Summer to Catch Up with School?

I know last year my best friend used the summer to teach her child to read--since the school system had failed to do it in her grade one year. Tutor businesses thrive during the summer, trying to make up for what the schools don't do.

I think one of the problems is that schools have given up forcing kids to memorize basic things, like multiplication tables. Here's an excellent post over at Joanne Jacobs' education blog:

One reason for the teacher frustration is that the state’s math gurus have de-emphasized memorization in favor of “conceptual thinking.” The same philosophy has crept into English classes, where “creativity” has been elevated over knowledge of grammar, and into history classes, where knowing historical trends — “the big picture” — has replaced knowing dates of important events. The result is seniors who are not just incapable of multiplication, but also unable to identify the verb in a sentence or come within 100 years of placing the Civil War.

I’ve never believed that people are better able to understand concepts if they know no facts. Perhaps the ignorant are more creative — but not in a good way.

I totally agree. We've made our kids memorize all the Presidents (and we're Canadian!), all the English Kings and Queens, starting with Ethelbert, and the dates of all the major wars from the War of the Roses to the present. And they've had to memorize all the multiplication tables!

I don't believe this stuff about how memorization isn't fun. Memorization is actually quite easy for children--far easier than it is for adults. If we can make use of that window from 6-12 when kids are geared for memorizing and learning, we can put all kinds of interesting things in their brains!

My children also memorize poetry. Rebecca can do a really dramatic version of The Cremation of Sam McGee, which is an awfully long poem, but it's quite rhythmic.

If your children don't know their math facts, why not use this summer to teach them? It doesn't sound fun, but it will reap huge rewards. Here's the easiest way I've found to tackle them:

Start with the 2's.

Then do the squares (2 x2, 6x6, etc.)

Next the 5's, which you can learn by counting by 5.

Next the 9's. There are several tricks for the 9's. For instance, if you're doing 9x4, you take away one from the four, which gives you 3. Now, what do you add to 3 to get 9? 6. So the answer is 36. Try it. It always works!

Next the 4's.

Now, you only have a few facts left over (8x7, 8x6, etc.) I think there are about 8 of them, and you just have to memorize them.
Here's another trick for 8x7: Think 5-6-7-8. Because 7x8 = 56!

Anyone else have any favourite tricks for helping kids memorize math?

For more posts on this subject, see:
The Curse of Fuzzy Math
One Size Doesn't Fit All (about learning disabilities in boys)
Don't Mess with History

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At 11:43 PM , Blogger Kara said…

I was just thinking about this this afternoon. My son has just finished grade 3, and does not know his multiplication tables, and I`m determined to teach him this summer. Thanks for the tips!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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