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(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.

What we did is a 3-step process which you can easily do it too.

1. Focus on only one topic

During our first session, I asked the child to identify his weakest topic. He mentioned “Fractions”. And the child told me that he wanted to tackle it too.

Do not underestimate this step. This coupled with knowing his personal interest is very powerful. Because once the weakest topic is cleared, it makes the child feel more confident. Let’s imagine finding the choke in the pipe. Once unchoked, the water will flow and will flow fast.

2. Work backwards

Next, we have to work from basics. For “Fractions”, you will have to go back to the basics like addition, substraction, division and multiplication. Having met the boy for the first time, I have no idea what the child is good at or weak in. So, it’s up to me to find out and to do it fast.

By working from the basics is to fill the gaps so that the new foundation you are building with your child gets much stronger and more stable.

**If your child has difficulties solving word problems related to fractions, start off with this step. It is tempting to want to zoom into solving THE word problems. However, from my experience, most students still struggle with multiplication of fractions, even in Secondary school due to poor foundation.

From our research and analysis (after we have compiled many word problems), on average, at least 3 to 5 concepts are tested for every word problem. So zooming into word problem itself is assuming that your child is able to understand ALL the math concepts and ALL the various types of word problems and able to apply them correctly. And normally, we know it’s not the case.

In fact, for the fact that your child finds word problems hard is because some of his concepts is not clear. So go back to basics and clear the gaps.

It’s still not too late to do this. In fact, this is the proven study technique for students who excel in Primary school and Secondary school. So use this strategy. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

3. Give similar questions

What many tutors do is that they only teach concepts related to the word problems.

“Let me explain this. Do you understand this?…”
“Ok you understand this. Now, let me explain how you can go to next step.”
“Ok, now you know this and that. You should be able to solve the word problem, RIGHT?”

… (silence from child)

… (longer silence…)

“WHAT! Why is it you still don’t understand after I have explained it (once)?”

“Sounds familiar?

Are you able to bake a cake after you have read and understood the recipe? Of course no. Then why expect a child to be able to do the same – solve the math problem correctly?

In fact, this is one of the 7 myths about Singapore Math we shared earlier on – you understand does not mean you can apply what you understood.

What should be done is to give 5 simple questions to test one concept.
Then, once the questions are answered correctly, move on to the next concept.

It is only after the child gives you the green light that he understands all the concepts, then you can explain the word problem to the child.

With these 3 simple steps, your child’s Math foundation will be stronger and your child should be able to get a better grade than what he’s getting now.

If you are not clear of any step and you need more clarification, do contact me using our contact form.

P.S. If you find this post useful, do click on “Like” button below so more people can benefit from it. =)