"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Multisensory Math Facts

The gist of my talk, "How to Get Your Kids to See the Light!" is really multi-sensory learning. It's unlikely a homeschool with more than two children will be made up of learners that all use the same primary learning modality. Besides, using a multi-sensory technique to teach increases the chance of retention.

Learning Math facts can be tedious. But, I assure you that if you can find a way to hit on that primary modality, it will stick. My favorite multi-sensory Math weapon is the Math Machine.  My dear friend Julie gifted us with the Multiplication Math machine and Division Math machine that her girls were done using.  They are the most pleasing tactile Math manipulative I have ever used.  All of my children love them.  Each of the buttons are spring loaded and release with an almost pleasing ping when depressed.  My little boys make car tracks with them or patterns, even though they are too young to understand them.  More importantly, the kids that needed them love them and have gotten good results using them.

For your auditory learners, you might consider Audio Memory Systems' math songs.  There are the Wrap Ups which come with Wrap Up Raps.  My visual learner finds both of the audio selections horrible, so you might want to consider that if you have a visual learner.  There is School House Rock which has several Math Fact songs that are more pleasing than the Raps or AMS options.  Just remember to check in with your child to make sure that it is working.

Lastly, I want to put in a plug for Finger Math.  I am a tactile learner.  Math facts never came easy for me until I learned the Korean method of finger math called Chisenbop.  I swear, without it, I would have never excelled as far as I did in Math and Science.  I have the book (on the left).  I have used Finger Math, to some degree, with my older kids.  My daughter, the visual learner, did not need it.  My son, wasn't terribly interested, but my middle daughter is interested, so we'll be taking some more "secret finger Math lessons" over the summer to see how it sets with her.

Ultimately, you need to find something that works because life without memorizing these facts, or finding some way to quickly do the operations will be slow and tedious.  One of my children dragged their feet on learning those facts and now understands, when Math takes a painful amount of time, that  had those facts been memorized Math would be done sooooo much more quickly!

By the way, for a truly multi-sensory Math program, check out Math-U-See.  My kids did not like it but not because it was multi-sensory.  They still used the MUS blocks.  One child is overwhelmed by big pages full of Math problems.  Teach Textbooks is a good choice for that child because each question is presented separately.  The other child found it BORING.  That child needs more challenge and has returned to Singapore Math.

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