Going to share with you a very simple and effective method which I shared with parents in one of our Parents workshops.

That is “Responding to problem sums vs Reacting to them”

Picture this with me.

A tall skinny boy sitting in his classroom. It’s his Math Exam.

Endless problem sums. Every one he read, his mind was blank. @.@

Blank. BLanK. BLANK. (He just couldn’t write anything. For a minute, he froze.)

His eyes were getting teary.

He had always been failing.

All along, he just “anyhow” read and write. (Sounds familiar?)

He wanted to change. For the better. And right now.

Suddenly, he remembered what our math coach told him.

‘Do your K-C-N-S-U. RESPOND to the problem sums. Don’t REACT.’

With new found hope, he started to just do his 5-step.

When he got back his results, he thought he’s going to fail. Again. :_(

But, he got a ‘B’. π

The reason why he improved (a lot!) this time round is this. He chose “Respond” rather than “React.”.

Let me share with you the difference.

React means…
– Letβs just “anyhow” read and write.

– I just want to get this over and done with.

– I just take any number I see. Just do lor.

– The student loses the power. Because it goes to the question.

Respond means…
– I always ask myself what concepts I’m tested on. (Which one out of the 12 concepts?)

– What are the steps I must show the marker to get all my marks?

– Power goes to the student.

Now we know “Respond” is the way to go.

But what do most do once they got hold of a paper?

Yes, you are right.

They just pick up their pens and ‘try’ to write something. (Some don’t even write their names on the papers.) They just dive in and try to swim (or sink). They just try to do as many as they can, hoping the number of questions they do is ‘proportional’ to their marks.

But we know it doesn’t work this way.

‘Respond’ can only work well for your child once he learnt problem sums types and certain proper skill sets.

We will be sharing with you more on how your child can better “Respond” and solve the problem sums. Will definitely come in handy for this upcoming CA 1. (A mom went back to teach her boy right after the workshop. And the question came out. :O )

Now, it’s back to reality. For some children, CA 1 is next week.

Is it the same for you too?

While problem sums can be challenging for children (and even parents), there are ways to make it fun and simpler for your child.

I’m a strong believer in making math-learning fun and simple for children. This is how I’ve been coaching my 5-year-old daughter Primary 1 Problem sums.

She does about 3-5 questions a day. She wakes up in the morning and she will do one more by herself.

She’s loving them. She uses the word ‘Please’ when she asks me for her math book.

‘Please give me my math book.’

So what I’m going to share with you has been designed to work for young children too.

Here goes.

1. Give your child a fixed number of steps to follow. Always.

Imagine a child in a small boat out in the dark ocean. It’s drifting aimlessly. No sign to guide her. Strong wind is blowing, piercing through the skin. Panic starts to build up. Suddenly, the mind goes blank. She feels helpless. Then, she starts to cry.

This is exactly how many children feel when they sit in the exam room. When they see unfamiliar problem sums, they felt lost. Some felt like crying. Many then tried to dive in and they try to swim (or sink).

‘Just do your best.’
‘Just write something.’

This is the common advice given to them.

However, when your child’s mind is blank, she just can’t write anything. There is nothing in the mind to write.

Teach your child our K-C-N-S-U step and make this the must-follow 5-step approach. K stands for Key word (Which key word tells you the concept?) C stands for Concept of the problem sum (What’s the type?) N stands for Numbers (What numbers do you have to help you solve?) S stands for Statements (How do you label all your steps so they can guide you towards your answer?) U stands for Units (What unit do you need to write for your answer?)

The video on KCNSU can be found here

Many kids, who did well eventually, followed these steps.

They continue to push on even when they find the questions hard.

They have stronger mental power. (Point #3 below will show you how to increase this.)

Those, who did well eventually, are those who never give up.

2. Make revision bite-size for your child.

A parent asked me this during one of our parents workshops.

‘How many sets of exam papers must I give your child a day?’

A DAY??!!

This reminded me of a dad who attempted to do her child’s P5 paper. He couldn’t believe that it’s incomplete.

He thought he’s good in math. He did his best. He even used calculator for the entire paper.

The outcome?

He couldn’t finish the paper. In the comfort of his home. When no one else is at home.

Zero distraction. Still, he felt drained. Discouraged. Self-doubt set in. ‘Why can’t I finish too?’

Again, how many parents did an entire exam paper like this hardworking dad? (Do you?)

My suggestion is 3 to 5 problem sums a day for your child as homework. Max.

If it’s direct short questions, maybe about 5 to 7.

This has another benefit. It reduces your stress. Parents who tried this told me they nagged less too.

3. Praise your child for effort

The #1 reason why our students, who went from fail to Bs and As, is that they feel good about math.

They feel good about themselves doing math.

They find it FUN.

They don’t mind doing more.

This is why our students, who become self-motivated, are able to do math by themselves without being told to.

So if you want your child to start feeling good about math, praise him when you see him putting in (any amount of) effort instead of giving up.

Again, remember not to use ‘But’ after you’ve given a praise.

‘You did well BUT it’s not good enough.’

‘You did manage to solve BUT you’re sloowwww.’

Will your child remember the part he did well or the one he didn’t? Most likely the 2nd one.

Hope you’ve learnt at least one thing from this post. If you want to learn more (especially on how to identify the different problem sums types while motivating your child), you can sign up for our free phone consultation at this link
=> http://studysmart.learningoutofthebox.org/free-math-consultation/

Now, back to reality. For some, CA 1 is next week.

Is it the same for you too?

Not to worry. We will be going through some important problem sums types on next Saturday’sParents Math Workshop.

While problem sums can be challenging for some (including parents), there are always ways to make it fun and simpler for your child.

I’m a strong believer in making math-learning fun and simple for children. This is how I’ve been coaching my 5-year-old daughter Primary 1 Problem sums.

She does about 3-5 questions per night. She wakes up in the morning and she will do one more by herself.

She loves it. She uses the word ‘Please’ when she wants her math book.

‘Please give me my math book.’

So what I’m going to share with you has been designed to work for young children too.

Here goes.

1. Give your child a fixed number of steps to follow. Always.

Imagine being in a small boat out in the dark sea – drifting aimlessly. No sign to guide us. Everywhere is pitch black. Panic builds up. Suddenly, the mind goes blank while feeling very, very helpless.

This is exactly how many, who struggle with problem sums, feel when they sit for their test or exam. When they see unfamiliar problem sums, they felt lost. Some felt like crying. Many then tried to dive in and they try to swim (or sink).

‘Just do your best.’
‘Just write something.’

This is the common advice given to them.

However, when one’s mind is blank, one just can’t write anything. There is nothing in the mind to write.

Teach your child our proven K-C-N-S-U 5-step process and make this the must-follow 5-step approach. K stands for Key word (Which key word tells you the concept?) C stands for Concept of the problem sum (What’s the type?) N stands for Numbers (What numbers do you have to help you solve?) S stands for Statements (How do you label all your steps so they can guide you towards your answer?) U stands for Units (What unit do you need to write for your answer?)

Many kids, who did well eventually, followed these steps.

They continue to push on even when they find the problem sums hard.

They are the ones who don’t simply write something. They use KCNSU to guide what they need to write.

They have stronger mental power. They are the ones who never give up. (Point #3 below will show you can help your child in this.)

2. Make revision bite-size for your child.

A parent asked me this during one of our parents workshops.

‘How many sets of exam papers must I give my child a day?’

A DAY??!!

This reminded me of a dad who attempted to do her child’s P5 paper.

He thought he’s good in math. He did his best. He even used calculator for the entire paper.

The outcome?

He couldn’t finish the paper. (He did it in the comfort of his home. When no one else is at home. )

Zero distraction. Still, he felt drained. ‘Why can’t I finish too?’

Again, how many parents did the whole exam paper like this hardworking dad? (If you did the same thing, I love to hear from you too. You’re an Awesome Parent. =)

My suggestion is 3 to 5 problem sums a day for your child as homework. Max.

If it’s direct short questions, maybe about 5 to 7.

This has another benefit. It reduces your stress. Parents who tried this told me they nagged less too.

3. Praise your child for effort

The #1 reason why students can move from fail to Bs and As is that they feel good about math.

To be exact, they feel good about themselves doing math.

They find it FUN.

They don’t mind doing more.

This is why our students, who become self-motivated, are able to do math by themselves without being told to.

So if you want your child to start feeling good about math, praise him when you see him putting in (any amount of) effort instead of giving up. (Yes, every motivated child has a supportive parent who cares about how her child is really feeling inside.)

Again, remember not to use ‘But’ after you’ve given a praise.

‘You did well BUT it’s not good enough.’

‘You did manage to solve BUT you’re sloowwww.’

Will your child remember the part he did well or the one he didn’t? Most likely the 2nd one.

Hope you’ve learnt at least one thing from this post. If you want to learn more (especially on how to identify the different problem sums types while motivating your child), you can sign up for our Parents Workshop now at => http://www.learningoutofthebox.org/parentsworkshop/

See you on next Saturday (20/2) at 1.30pm at Park Mall.

His ex-tutor threw his book onto the floor. Swoosh!

Imaging the book flying across your face. Right onto the floor.

James (not his real name) got it from his ex-tutor whenever he got his answer wrong.

Being a ‘F’ student, he had tons of his books thrown onto the floor.

Too many mistakes made. Some made due to fear.

His ex-tutor was a very strict teacher.

He couldn’t tolerate James making any mistake. Not even a wrong sign or unit (even the answer was right)

This was the story his mom shared with us over the phone.

Another math failure.

No.

He didn’t just fail math.

He hated it.

Anyone who had gone through what he had would hate math. James even felt fear while learning it.

When mom first brought her to us, he was shivering.

Imagine it’s your child’s story. What will you do? How will you help him?

P6. 2 more months to PSLE.

Mom felt hopeless. We could sense desperation.

James was not alone. In fact, his story is not the worst.

(We had a mommy who always called his son “useless” every single day. Picture with me the daily toxins that was injected into the child’s self esteem.)

We have many kids like James who came to us for help over these years.

This is what we do to help the child.

* * *

#1 Math needs to be made fun (or a little bit less threatening) for James

James’ mom was asking how we could help him in math. But we knew he had a bigger issue.

Low self-esteem. Math phobia.

On the first lesson, we started to build rapport with him by playing board games together.

The intention was to make him feel comfortable with us first, then Math.

Soon later, we taught the whole class about having “never give up” attitude.

Instead of having more math papers to do, children like James need more tools for the mind, to strengthen it.

Most importantly, to drive away the negative thoughts and to raise his self-esteem and confidence.

During his Prelim paper (which was 2 weeks after), with his newly-found confidence and more smart techniques in tackling math problem sums, he braved the daunting questions.

He remembered what was taught by us during our short 2-hour lesson.

He recalled he must not left any question undone.

So he attempted all questions including the problem sums which he had always hated. Or afraid of.

Despite of the fear he was facing, he completed his paper. He told me his palms were all wet at the end of the paper.

On the day he got back his paper.

To his shock, he got a ‘B’. He was expecting another ‘F’ –Β again.

Not bad for 2 days of lessons with us. He was gleaming with joy when he shared the great news.

* * *

#2 Here are the Problem Sums Concepts. Do you know all 12?

This was exactly what we asked him.

He knew none.

Fine, at least we had an honest answer and we knew exactly where to start.

With only a month plus to PSLE, we put him through our 12-concepts-types math programme.

He was a hardworking boy. He did all our homework. Plus he got so motivated by us that he did more at home.

Mom was surprised that he even gave up his favorite TV show just to do math.

Likewise, your child must know all 12 by the time he sits for his PSLE this year.

How many does he know now?

Here are the 12 problem sums types.

1. Remainder concept 2. Equal concept
3. One unchanged

4. Same difference 5. Total unchanged
6. Simultaneous

7. Guess and check 8. External unequal change
9. Working backwards

10. Number of units x value 11. Gap and difference
12. Repeated identity

How many do you know?

* * *

#3 K-C-N-S-U. Please follow this to solve ANY problem sum

The main reason some children didn’t manage to score well is because they didn’t have a proper proven process to solve their problem sums.

Most dive in and try to swim or sink, eventually.

Many children shared with us they were very anxious even just before the paper.

This is when the child’s mind goes into chaos and many forgot what they had studied earlier.

But, nothing beats ONLY remembering one thing before the exam.

Which is why we do this to help our children.

We taught them the 5-step simple KCNSU technique right from the start of the coaching programme.

This is so powerful that it can be used to solve any problem sum- Yes, ANY!

The even more powerful thing is they could even remember it after many months just because we taught them a simple way to remember it.

By following these 3 tips, it has also helped many other children to improve within a very short time.

One main factor is because children finally have found a more manageable way to learn and master problem sums.

When they discovered they can solve them easily, most start to want to do a bit more. Some even show enjoyment while doing it.

Because it is no longer scary.

No more books being thrown onto the floor because they get their answer wrong.