Hope you enjoyed your long weekend! =)
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’s Parents 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.
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?)
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 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?’
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.
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
See you on next Saturday (20/2) at 1.30pm at Park Mall.
Exams are coming soon! With so little time, most will think it’s impossible for a child improve by 5 to 10 marks.
So in this post, we want to share with you 2 strategies we have successfully used to help many students to improve by 5 to 10 marks and even 20 marks within a very short time.
In fact, by consistently using these strategies, a few of our students have almost doubled her marks to ‘A’. One even did it within a week!
Strategy 1. Identify and eliminate careless mistakes
Please repeat after me “Mistakes are my best friend.”
I’m not kidding. Yes, many children felt “bad” about making them and many parents felt quite sad because they felt that their kids shouldn’t have made these mistakes in the first place.
While many got confused and wondered how the grades can be improved, they also overlooked that the mistakes made are clear indicators of areas they must work on.
I have listed out the common careless mistakes below (and lately while observing how one of my students is solving a math word problem, I have discovered another type of mistakes)
A. Copying the wrong number –
While reading the word problem, a child sees “16” but he writes “19”. It can also happen when the child is moving from one step to the other in his workings. The worst thing that can happen is the child has found the right answer but wrote the wrong one in his answer box. Mark will definitely be deducted.
B. Writing the wrong units –
The answer should be in “cm” but the child wrote “m”. Or the answer is to be given in “kg” but the child found the answer in “grams” instead. Some schools are very strict. Instead of deducting half mark, they deduct 1 mark for every wrong unit they see.
C. Illegible handwriting –
This is one of the most common mistakes. The good news is that this is easily avoidable. For example, a child wrote “1000” but the zeros look like “6” and so it’ looks like “1666”. Sometimes, the child can’t even read his own handwriting. So keeping the handwriting neat and legible helps.
D. Keying in the wrong number while using the calculator –
The child read “16” from his question but keyed in “19” or he read “100” from the display panel of his calculator but he wrote “200” on his paper.
E. Writing the wrong operations “+, -. x, /” –
The child knows that he is supposed to multiply but he wrote a “+” instead of “x”.
Of course, there may be other types of careless mistakes which I didn’t add in. (If you know of any others, do let me know. Thanks! 🙂
The key message here is to keep these mistakes to a minimal or (better still) not making them at all. I once did an assessment for a child and I discovered that the careless mistakes she made add up to 20 marks.
20 MARKS!!! (Can you imagine what her actual standard is?)
She did fail her Math but adding that 20 marks would have pushed her to become a ‘B’ grade student.
She’s in fact a ‘B’ student!
So, improving your grades can start off with taking simple steps like this – analysing, grouping and eliminating the careless mistakes gradually.
So what you can do now is…
Go through the CA1 papers or any revision or mock SA1 papers within this day or two, identify the careless mistakes, bring them to awareness. This means you discuss with your child what the mistakes are and ask your child how s/he can be more careful.
Reassure your child that is OK to get it wrong. Just don’t do it twice.
You will be surprised that most children know what they should do but they hesistated to share what they ought to do, for fear of being scolded or criticised by others.
Strategy 2. If time is really limited (like now), just redo the school’s CA1 and revision papers
Going through the CA1 is necessary even though the child may have tons of top school papers to complete or he feels reluctant to do it because of various reasons such as poor grades or bad experience.
This step is crucial because from a psychological perspective, the child must learn to walk through the “bad” experience again so that he can learn to come out of it as a better person.
He must be able to face and acknowledge that he has not met the expectation in the past, to find out what the mistakes are, to find the solutions for them and then to move on to better grades. This in fact is part of human nature – all of us yearn to do better.
Nowadays students have so much homework that parents and teachers ended up giving the children the answers plus the workings due to limited time.
“So this is the working and the answer. Copy them and go back home and figure it out yourself.”
I have heard many similar feedbacks from my parents that many school math teachers are doing this. (I do not want to name the schools but similar incidents happen in certain schools) Well, we can’t control what’s already happening in schools, but we can help our children refine their learning strategies by providing our children the learning experience so that they learn to discover the solutions to their math problems as well as other similar questions.
So what you can do now is…
While there isn’t enough time to allow your child do all the questions which he got wrong previously, it is important to pick some key questions addressing different concepts and get your child to experience the learning process. Once he is able to solve them, the skill to solve probably sticks longer compared to providing him the solution.
At the same time, their results are going to increase by a lot!
Don’t tell the child “This is what you should do.” Do say “Now you have reached this step. What do you need to do now to move just one step ahead?”
Sprinkle hints or clues now and then in order to encourage the child to think of how to move closer to his answer. In short, be their lamp posts and guide them towards the answer. Once the child is able to solve the question by himself, his confidence is going to soar and he will feel more competent.
Find out more in our PSLE math tuition class !
Common test was just over. By now, you should have known the grade for your child’s Math paper. Whatever grade that your child has gotten, my advice is “just let it be“. Yes, though the grades can be better, there’s really no point to get stressed over it too much. Instead, what you should do is to channel your energy to help your child find an effective way to improve.
If he has scored 30 marks, let’s work on how he can work towards 40 within 1 month.
If he has scored 40, let’s work on how he can score 50 within the next month.
If he has scored 50, let’s work on how to work towards 60 in 30 days’ time.
One of our students’ mark shot up from 40+ to 70 / 100 after attending my coaching once on 3rd March.
Below is the thank-you sms sent by her mother. =)
So improving the grades by 10 marks within the next 30 days is really possible.
Let’s look at it this way, even if your child’s current score is 30/100 and there are 6 more months till PSLE, your child can aim to get 60 more marks by then. That will be 90/100 (It’s an A*!)
The secret to improving your child’s Math is to address the root problem.
Practing on more questions can come later, ONLY IF the root problem is solved.
When a child fails to solve a word problem, there are many causes. Some are emotion-related like stress or anxiety and others are technique-related like careless mistakes.
While most parents are not professionally trained to help their children cope with their emotional problems, there is an easy method that all parents can use now. That is to address the mistakes (commonly known as “carless mistakes”)
Careless mistakes – you might have heard this a thousand times. But how is it that you are identifying the type of careless mistakes your child is making and developing the right method to address every one of these mistakes?
For a start, ask yourself “What kind of mistake is stopping your child from getting the next 10 marks?”
Go ask your tutor if you have one. He should be able to answer it if he knows your child well enough. (if he can’t, you may want to consider using other ways to find out.)
Improving by another 10 marks is really easy. Really, it is. My students have done that and so can yours.
Let me share with you what we do.
First, you must have a very clear plan of where you are going to get your 10 marks. Break it down to say 5 1-mark questions, 1 2-mark question and 1 3-mark question.
Spend the next 30 days just to really understand the concepts for these questions so that your child can apply them for ALL types of questions.
So let’s give your child a fresh start. To help you in identifying the type of “careless mistakes” your child is making, here is our tool sheet.
=> You can download here and use it. (Right click and save target as)
For Secondary Math, download here.
P.S. If you have tried using the tool sheet and need some help, do contact me using our contact form or you can email me at coach @ p6astarmaths.com.
P.P.S. If you find our blog post useful, do help us to click on the “Like” button =)
If there’s a study method which requires only 15 minutes a day, will you be interested to know?
However, what we are about to share with you is not widely used because this is not what teachers in school or the “experts” from tuition centres say so.
To them, studying for just 15 minutes a day is definitely not enough. One should study AT LEAST 15 hours a day in order to score good grades.
Thankfully, there are more and more parents who believe in our proven system and they prefer to use our learning method because it is healthier for their kids and their kids begin to like math more. In truth, this method is more effective and it requires less time and is less torturing for both the parent and the child.
Before we share with you our preferred way to study, let’s take a look at why studying for long hours is ineffective.
Firstly, the average attention span of a child is about 10 to 15 minutes of focused concentration. After every 15 minutes, there should be a 2 to 3 minutes break. If there is no break, most children’s mind just drift away although they are physically there.
Secondly, most study sessions are plain boring. The activity consists only of writing and listening. The communication is always one way from adult to child. Plus, children aren’t encouraged to ask question because this will disrupt the flow of the session and hinder the teacher or the tutor’s teaching.
Thirdly, the lessons conducted are not catered to children’s basic needs. The teaching method which only the teacher teaches and the child listens is actually more suitable for adults. For children to learn more effectively, the lessons have to be VERY DIFFERENT. There should be more fun games, more stimulating discussions and more affirmation for the children that it’s ok to ask question (no matter how ridiculous it sounds).
Now, we know what don’t work for children. So, the important question to ask is how can we as parents make the lesson simpler for both parent and child without the need to make big changes?
Using only 15 minutes a day, we can do this:
Step 1: Choose ONLY 4 questions, 1 MCQ, 2 short answer questions and 1 long answer question
Step 2: Understanding that 1 mark is equivalent to 1 minute, your child should spend at most 10 minutes to complete the questions.
(It doesn’t really matter if your child finds the question hard. I know most children give up and leave the question undone just because he thinks it’s hard or feels it’s hard. Encourage your child to write anything. The worst thing to do is to not write anything at all.)
Step 3: Once time is up, mark your child’s work
Step 4: Praise your child for attempting all the questions and not leaving them blank.
(Help your child to develop the never-give-up mindset.)
Step 5: For the question that were wrong, help your child to find out why and understand his mistakes.
It may be due to poor understanding of the question or the tested concept.
(Some times children get them wrong simply they are not in the mood of doing them.)
Step 6: Always get your child to first explain to you on how he plans to solve the question. Once he is clear, then he can proceed. By telling you his plan, he is processing it in his mind too.
That’s it! Give bitesize word problems so that learning math is more enjoyable and more fun for your child.
If you feel that this post can benefit others, help us to tell more people about it by clicking on the Like button below.
If you like this, learn more about our coaching method in our weekly Primary Math Tuition Classes.
(The math strategy I’m about to share works very well for both Primary and Secondary Math and even Math in Universities.)
The math concept that the boy couldn’t understand is a concept that his other tutors and school teachers fail to explain to him in the last 12 months. (if they could, the boy won’t be here to see me, isn’t it?)
Let’s name this boy Ivan. Before Ivan signed up for my coaching, his mother told me that Ivan finds Math so hard that his existing tutor and school teacher couldn’t help him understand certain topics.
Yes, I was bothered by what the mom told me, but it made me more eager to help him.
Then, he came for my coaching on Saturday and within 30 minutes, Ivan moved from “I find Math hard” to “I find Math manageable”. And in another 30 minutes’ time, he moved to “I find Math fun!”. Wow, a BIG transformation within 1 hour. (How do we know about the progress? We use a scale during our coaching to measure it.)
No kidding. How we motivate children works!
Even his family members, who came to pick him up, were impressed and amazed by how quick Ivan has been transformed. They were even happier when the boy told them he now finds Math fun and while saying it, his face was beaming with joy.
Yup, when Math is made fun, your child will improve.
What we did is a 3-step process which you can easily do it too.
Having been approached by many parents asking me to help their children I’ve come up with this post to share our top advice on how to approach Math at Primary and Secondary level (and even studying in general).
Happy new year to you and hope you have a good celebration. Hope you had a good break too.
I have decided to create this post after I had been approached by many parents asking me to help their children.
(In addition, I have also created a Facebook page for you to post your questions or to receive more “out of the box” learning tips.
Regardless of the students’ academic level (Primary or Secondary), those who don’t do well in Math are making their parents very worried and stressed up.
1. Filling in the gaps
It’s fortunate that only 1.5 months have passed and there is only so much content that the teacher had covered. Perhaps it may be only two to three topics. So the good thing is that there’s still time to catch up. To catch up, one must know what content has been lost (not understood) and where these gaps are.
Failure to catch up and find out what gaps to fill will create a snowball effect. For those students who are still not passing their class tests are most probably those whose foundation is still very weak with lots of gaps unfilled.
So work with your child to find out what he doesn’t know or understand. Then work with him on building up his concepts so that he has a stronger foundation when the newer topics are taught in the future.
2. Finding out from your child if he likes Math
Pose a question to your child during one of the most unexpected moments (perhaps lunch time or just before bed time) and ask him if he likes Math. Listen to his non-verbal (body language). If he says “Yes” but his body language tells you otherwise, you know that he isn’t telling you the whole truth. For example, he says “Yes” but his face looks indifferent or he frowns while saying it or he gave a shrug before hesistating to say “Yes”.