Saturday, April 14, 2012

More on math

Decimals, fractions, and percents…oh my! Yes, I can joke about these now, but not so long ago it was no laughing matter. I can not even tell you how many tears were shed over trying to get those three math subjects packed down so that we could move on.
As I mentioned before, the order of things is so important in math, because each chapter builds on the lessons learned in the previous one. My daughter wanted desperately to take things out of the prescribed order, and I let her. Decimals, fractions, and percent are so closely related that if your child doesn’t understand one of them, then the other two are very difficult.
An example of the interconnection between the three, try to explain 50% without using the fraction ½, or the decimal .50. There might be a way to do it, but I couldn’t find it. Then, try to explain a fraction without discussing division. Try describing division without using multiplication.
Ok, I suppose I have made my point, numerous times. The most important thing you can do with your sixth grader in math is make sure that he understands the basics before moving on. He may not thank you now, as you make him do yet another problem, but later, as math gets more and more complex, he will be thankful for the firm foundation you give him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ok, so what should my sixth grader be studying?

Seriously good question, that! What should your sixth grader be learning? Well, the basics, of course, math, science, language arts, social studies. Not specific enough you say? I agree, so I will pick just one thing this time.
Math…One of the biggest hurdles your child needs to clear in 6th grade math is proficiency in the four basic operations. Without a really good working knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, all of the other things your child has to learn in math will be much more difficult.
If you find that your child is slow in multiplication or division, or sloppy in their addition and subtraction facts, then have them do some extra problems in those areas. We found out the hard way that math is taught in a particular order for a reason. My daughter wanted to take math chapters out of order. And I let her…
We discovered that she couldn’t do algebra problems without understanding fractions, and fractions required a serious understanding of multiplication and division. Every time we tried to back up just one chapter to review, we discovered something else that we needed to learn first. I guess that is why they say math builds on itself…duh! We went back, and reviewed the four basic operations, and things are going much smoother now!