My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping Your Struggling Student - Math

Visual-spacial learners need to experience math. They need to be able to visualize what each number means. They need to “see” the story problem. Drawing pictures, using manipulate (things to count etc), charts, graphs, and pictures can help them learn.

Real life experiences such as using play money and playing store, or using fractions in baking can help make math into a concrete experience that they can visualize and comprehend.

They need to discover the answers for themselves. The need to work out the details themselves. They may find unusual approaches which work, or they may suddenly have the whole picture (the answer) and be unable to tell you how they got it. This does not mean that they cheated. It simply means that they think in pictures and do not verbally sequence.

They might have trouble handling details and need structure. Many errors on math tests are the result to confusing the data in the problem. Using grid paper or lined paper turned sideways to help keep math columns straight can be a great help. Circling the important data in a problem or labeling the steps can also help. This is best done with colored pencils since it will draw the attention of their visually stimulated mind.

They must see examples of how to do the problem before they attempt to do it themselves.

They may forget the order to do each step of the problem. Having an example which is labeled as step 1 etc. may help.

It may also help them to deal with the idea of the problem first; to see what is happening and what they need to do, then put in the numbers.

If they must learn math facts, there are times, addition, and subtraction facts which have been put to music.

Movement will help many children learn math. I have allowed children to jump rope, swing, or jump on a mini-tramp to develop counting skills.

There are some books which can help with learning mathematical concepts. They present concepts within a whole story. This gives the child a the picture of how math is used.

Using a number line may help some children to “see” how numbers relate to each other. It can make addition and subtracting something concrete that they can see.