Helping Your Child With Maths Word Problems


Maths word problems are a common area of concern for parents because they don’t know how to help their child.  Hopefully this article will give you some strategies to use so that problem solving is not a problem any more.

In my experience, there are 2 reasons why the child cannot do the maths word problem:

1.  The child does not understand the question.

If comprehension is weak, then the child will struggle to see what he needs to do.  A weak reader reads mechanically and approaches a sentence word by word, and misses out on the bigger picture.  They will often read the whole question and then give you a blank look, because they haven’t thought about what they are reading.

I use “DRAW” method to help children understand a question.  For example in the following question:

“There are 4 boys with 6 sweets each.  How many sweets altogether?”

Ask your child, what they could draw a picture of from the information in the question.  You might need to explain the meaning of the word “each” or the word “altogether”

maths word problem

Another strategy I use is called the “FLOW CHART” method.  This might be more suitable for older children, where they have to work out problems involving more than one step.  Change the sentence into a flow chart or diagram where each step is connected by an arrow.  For the following problem, you might need to teach your child how to half a number.  I have written a blog post on this topic.

“Damien had 6 stickers. His Mum gave him 10 more. He then gave half to his brother. How many did he have left?”

2 step word problem

The “TRANSLATE” strategy is also a useful way of getting children to understand the word problem.  Children need to understand the maths language used in questions.  At the simplest level they need to understand that the word “and” in a question means + in maths.  This blog I wrote on the topic may be useful.

The following example is a GCSE level question  and requires an understanding of the word “profit”.

“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him? “

2.  The child cannot do the maths required for the problem.

After ensuring that your child can understand what  to do, you then have to make sure they can do the working out.  For example in the question below,

“A shopkeeper sold 16 articles for a total of £400 and made a profit of £48.00. How much did each article cost him?”

the steps are as follows:

£400-£48 = £352

£352 divided by 16

If the child cannot do column subtraction or long division, she will struggle.

Problem solving questions usually involve the four basic operators in Maths.  At a higher level, they may involve knowledge of time/percentages/algebra and fractions.  If this is the weakness in your child, ensure that he or she gets to learn these skills first.

Advertisements

How To Revise 2 – Do Some Mock Exams


Right about now, students studying for their GCSE’s should be revising. One thing they should not leave until the last minute is going over past papers and sitting  mock exams to test their knowledge. Here is a blog I wrote a while back explaining the best way to do this.

Kip McGrath Luton Tutor's Blog

There are many aspects to creating good study habits, and the first of these I have already mentioned in a previous post which is to get organised.  Creating a timetable can save many precious hours as we come to exams.

Another component of revision is going through past papers.  In fact this should be included in your revision plan.  Giving yourself mock tests can highlight how you work under pressure and it will show you the gaps in your learning.  Going over your revision notes many times is a pointless exercise if you haven’t  tested your knowledge .

When you are ready to do a mock exam (at least three weeks before the exam), make sure that you do it under exam conditions and that you keep to the time limit.  You may have gone through exam papers in class already, so choose an exam that you know you have not…

View original post 565 more words

Mother’s Day Poetry Competition Winner


Our poetry competition was a great success.  We had over 40 entries out of which we had to pick one.  It was not an easy decision to make.  Here is the winning poem as promised.  It was written by Kyle age 15.

Mum

You’re always there when I need you,

Almost as much as a foot needs a shoe,

Let’s be honest, you will always be my best friend,

I will always love you to the end,

We love to fight, then it turns into a scrap,

We both know I must learn when to shut my trap,

Like a puppy loves to chew,

Don’t forget I really love you,

You will always be my favourite woman in my life,

Yes, even more than my future wife,

As Mother’s day comes around,

I send you all my love,

I thank you for all your help,

You’re my mother sent from above,

It’s about time this poem comes to an end,

Don’t worry, my love will never descend.

Love from Kyle 

And here are the flowers, chocolates and original poem in the card which were hand delivered to the lucky mum this morning.

Mothers day prize

Mothers day prize

Mother’s Day Poetry Competition.


Just For Mum – Write a Heartfelt Poem For Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day on the 30th March, Kip McGrath Luton South is launching it’s ‘Just For Mum’ poetry competition. Writing a poem for mum (or mother figure) not only encourages creativity and develops writing skills, it produces an original, heartfelt poem that Mum is sure to adore!

To take part, get your child to write a poem in celebration of their mother or mother figure, because a mum can come in many forms. It could be a step-mum, grandmother or female figure who has always supported your child. What would your child like to say to her? 

We will select one winner who will win a luxury bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to be sent to a person of their choice.  The winning poem will also be published on this blog.  Simply email or post your child’s poem to us by the 27th March 2014.  Please remember to include your child’s name, age and postal address on their poem!

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us an email or give us as call.

We look forward to reading your child’s work.

Mother's day poem

Teaching Children Using Infographics


Infographics are colourful, visual posters designed to inform but in a stimulating and engaging way and I love them.  I would prefer to read an infographic rather than pages and pages of text, and I am more likely to remember the information because it will be eye-catching, dramatic and detailed.  So for this reason alone, I think they are wonderful to use to help children read more carefully, to extract important information and to think about the purpose of a text.

The problem is that a lot of them can be quite complicated.  So here is a collection of some of the simplest infographics I have used to teach children.

infographic

Infographics may contain graphs and charts, flow charts, diagrams, photographs, timelines, maps, tables and blocks of text and lots of information so they are ideal to use as a tool to engage children into learning about the topic or to read and interpret it.

Type 1 – Infographics Showing Instructions and How To’s

This one on the simple game of “Rock, paper Scissors” is perfect for getting children to think about how to write effective instructions.  Suggested activities

1.  Write your own set of instructions for the game

2.  Outline the layout features in the infographic like diagrams, headings, sub-headings and numbering and comment on how they are effective.rock paper scissors

Type 2 – To show statistics, facts and figures

There are hundreds of this type but I love the “If there were 100 people” in the world for it’s simplicity and clarity.  The “International number 1’s” had some children engrossed for a good half hour.  Suggested activities:

1.  If you were one of those 100 people, what would your statistics be?

2.  If you could be number 1 in the world at something, what would it be?

If the World Were 100 People

by KVSStudio.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

1276_international_number_onesTaken from this website.

Type 3 – to re-educate and eradicate myths and misunderstandings

This type of infographic could be used to get children to recall simple facts from.

headache-everything-you-need-to-know_50290fc260bb6_w1500

Taken from this website.

And finally…..

Type 4 – a bit of fun

How Much You Can Trust a Bearded Man?

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

21 Ways To Revise GCSE Maths


  1. Start revising early in the year (about now) and learn the work you do in class.

  2. Get a copy of your syllabus and go through each bullet point.  Any topics you don’t understand should be highlighted.

  3. Write a list of all of the topics and cross them off the list once you’re sure you know them.

  4. When you revise topics make notes on the method and then do a few examples, then try some questions yourself on that topic.

  5. Do as many questions as possible, especially on subjects that you find difficult as practice is the only way.  You can get questions from:

    • Text books

    • Revision books (for example CGP books)

    • Homework sheets

    • Class tests

    • Past papers

  6. Online websites such as mymaths.co.uk or bbc bitesize.

  7. Practice loads! do loads of past papers and if you run out of past papers to do, do them again, especially the questions you didn’t do so well on.

  8. After revising a topic, go through past papers but only do the questions on that topic.  For example if you’ve just revised circle theorem, do past paper questions on circle theorem only. 

  9. Your textbook is full of explanations and worked examples you can follow, study and use to improve your understanding. It’s generally a good idea to find a topic you need help with, read through the explanation (looking up anything you don’t understand), before following along with the examples.

  10. After every exam paper, make a list of what you did poorly on and revise it.

  11. Revise with a friend or work in a small group. 

    • You can explain maths to your friends.

    • Your friends can explain things to you.

    • You can work together on problems.

    • You can test each other.

    • friend
  12. One of the most effective ways to learn a new skill is to write down the steps you have to take – either as a list or as a flowchart. 

  13. Make flash cards, but double sided ones, the reverse side having questions on it or page numbers from your text book where you can find these questions.  You could have a set for each of the following:

    • FORMULAS.  The formulas you need to memorise for the exam

    • METHODS.  How to work out a problem, for example the method for working out Pythagoras.

    • DEFINITIONS.  Write down the meanings of maths words you need to know.

    • NEED TO KNOW.  In maths there are quantities and number you must know off by heart.  Such as grams in a kilogram or square numbers.  One side has the question, the other side has the answer.

    • flash cards
  14. Make a cheat sheet.  This is one sheet of A4 paper with a summary of everything you need to know.

  15. Go online and revise topics by watching videos or practicing questions online.

  16. Create mind maps.  There should be a word/question or something in the middle of the page, with questions, facts or methods coming out.

  17. Create posters.  Make them colourful and big so that they catch your eye.  Display these posters on your walls so that you see them all the time.

  18. Use highlighters and shade/colour in important facts from text books and workbooks.highlighter

  19. If you have a really good set of notes or still have your maths workbooks from school, then you can write questions in the margins to jog your memory as you read.

  20. Use sticky notes to write down formulas and facts, they are quick and easy to do, as you learn each fact, just throw the sticky note away.sticky notes

  21. LOOK at a worked example of a question.  COVER it.  WRITE it yourself and work it out from memory.  CHECK to see if you’ve done it right.  If you’ve missed something out or done it wrong, TRY AGAIN.

If after all this you are still not getting anywhere,  let us do the work for you.  Book  a free assessment and let us take care of things.

Using Magnetix to Explain Quadrilaterals


Magnetix are construction toys, but they are also very useful for teaching about space and shape.  I get children to make different shapes with them, including 3D shapes.  But in this article I am focussing on quadrilaterals, because they can be the most confusing ones to learn about.

Here is how not to do it……..

Naming quadrilaterals

For each shape children need to know:

  1. number of sides

  2. length of sides – whether equal or not

  3. sides parallel or not

  4. interior angles

Square

  1. 4 sides

  2. all sides equal length

  3. opposite sides parallel

  4. all interior angles 90 degrees

Rectangle

  1. 4 sides

  2. 2 long sides, 2 short

  3. opposite sides equal length

  4. opposite sides parallel

  5. all angles 90 degrees

rectangle

Rhombus

To make a rhombus, just make a square and tilt the sides.

  1. 4 sides

  2. all sides equal length

  3. opposite sides parallel

  4. none of the angles are 90 degrees, 2 acute angles, 2 obtuse

rhombus

square to rhombus

Parallelogram

To Make a parallelogram, make a rectangle and tilt the sides.

  1. 4 sides

  2. 2 long sides, 2 short

  3. opposite sides parallel

  4. 2 acute angles, 2 obtuse, no right angles

parallelogram

rectangle to parallelogram

Trapezium

  1. 4 sides

  2. One pair of parallel sides

trapezium

Kite

  1. 4 sides

  2. 2 long sides, 2 short

  3. no parallel sides

  4. the 2 sides next to each other are equal length

kite

But if you haven’t got the time or struggle to explain things simply to your child, let us do the work for you.  Book your child for a free assessment and let us take care of things.

My Child Gets Distracted Easily – Should I Be Worried?


Distractions can come in various forms and can deter students from paying attention in lessons.   I believe that all children can lose concentration at times, but some will get distracted more easily than others. The chances are that nearly all parents will answer “yes” to the following questions.

When children don't concentrate...

When children don’t concentrate…

Does your child find it difficult to pay attention?

Is your child easily distracted by what’s going on around them?

Does your child day-dream a lot?

It is a common problem and a worry for many parents and can actually hinder the progress a child makes.  In the classroom setting and at my tuition centre, keeping students focused on learning can be a challenging task.  However, at Kip McGrath, we have learnt to overcome these sorts of problems by using some very simple techniques.

1.  Keep it Short and Sweet

Children have an average attention span of 15 minutes.  After this time, they get bored and lose focus.  So work solidly for 15 minutes and then make a change.  At Kip McGrath, each activity is designed to last 15 minutes, children are then moved onto another activity which uses another type of skill set or study skill.

For example, if you are working with your child at home with reading.  You could spend the first 15 minutes reading, and then move onto writing 5 questions to ask the main character in the book, then move onto watching a short video on a scene from the book and then move onto answering some questions to test comprehension.  Notice that each of these activities uses a different type of learning skill and therefore takes the boredom out of learning.

2. Remove All Distractions

If you know that your child will be distracted by the phone ringing or by overhearing an advert on TV, then switch them both off!  If there are other children in the room, who are also working, then move your child so that interaction between them is minimal.  I teach a child who likes to see what other children are doing and is always keen to help them if he knows the answer, so to avoid this, he sits on the other side of the room with his back to them.  Another rule we have for children who insist on a toilet break every lesson, is that they must go before the start of the lesson.  Grumbling stomachs can be ignored and all equipment must be on the table before work begins.  I even have a stash of sharpened pencils in case a child has a blunt one!

3. Set Realistic Expectations

You need to know what your child is capable of and what is expected of his age before you start assuming that your child has problems concentrating.  If a child’s work is not set at the right level, then you will either get a child who is bored because the work is too easy or a child who will avoid the work because it is too hard.  Pitching it at the right level is key to how we teach children at Kip McGrath.  In fact, I use this strategy when working with my own children.  I also check on the national curriculum website, what they should know for their age so that I am teaching them what they will cover at school.

One parent who brought their child for help with maths couldn’t understand why their child was struggling with it.   He had tried to help at home by getting his 6-year-old to learn all of the times tables by rote.  I asked the child to count up in 2’s from the number 24 – he couldn’t.  So the child had not understood the concept of times tables or how to work them out.  He also didn’t recognise odd and even numbers.

If you find the national curriculum difficult to understand, then invest in some good study books which will summarise what your child needs to know and use them as a guide.

These techniques work very well for us at Kip McGrath, and I have seen many children who find difficulty concentrating at school just thrive in our lessons.  Give them a try.

I Don’t Understand What I Read – How to Help With Comprehension


I Don’t Get What This Book Is About….

As a teacher, I have heard this many times.  Children who cannot comprehend what they are reading, will say this and give up reading the book after a few pages.

Many children can read fluently for their age and understand what they are reading.  But some will struggle with comprehension.  These children will struggle to grasp the finer details of a story.  For example, they may be able to recall the names of the characters but may not be able to:

“Compare two characters in the book. Tell which one you think is better and why.”

Children with weak comprehension may not be able to summarise a passage in a book or even re-phrase a sentence into their own words.  They will copy out the answer from the passage word for word.  They might be able to tell you what happened in a story, but can’t explain why events went the way they did.  They also find it difficult to explain character’s thoughts and feelings, and put themselves in the character’s shoes.

Weak comprehension skills are common amongst children with a low reading age, and children who do not read enough. This is because they are using all of their “brain power” to work out what words they are reading and are just going through the motions of reading.  They fail to see the bigger picture.  So how can you help your child reading comprehension?  Here are some useful tips on how to help your child with comprehension:

Read Every Day

  • Start with a minimum of 10 minutes per day.  Little and often is better than 1 hour on a Sunday.

  • Don’t just read books given by the class teacher.  Have books available around the house, get them from the library or if budget is tight, then buy them from charity shops.

  • Read a variety of genres and also read non-fiction.  Children with vivid imaginations tend to cope better with fiction because they can visualise whats happening in the books.  Getting children to read more factual information can help them learn new words, to think about layout features like sub-headings and fonts, and to slow down and think about what they are reading.

  •  Let your child choose the book.  Don’t force your child to read something they don’t want to. Let him/her choose the books and at the most, make a few subtle suggestions.

  • Read the same book, many times.

  • Don’t make the reading into a punishment.

You will find that children reading every day will improve their reading fluency and they will become more expressive in their reading.  As they get more exposure to words, their sight word recognition will improve.  Sight words are the most commonly used words in the english langauge and a child is expected to read without decoding or thinking about the word.  Examples of sight words are “the”, “after”, “through” and “world”.

Talk About What They Read

  • Read the books your child is reading so that you can talk about it together. Either read the book to your child, listen to your child read or read the book separately. Then talk about the characters and story just like you would be talking about a film after the movies.

  • Ask questions will help your child to think about the book:

    • What part of the reading was funniest?

    • What part was the most exciting?

    • What part was the saddest?

    • Was the main character in this reading good or bad? Why?

    • Which is better…?

    • Would you agree that…?

    • What is your opinion of…?

    • Were they right to do…? Why? Or why not?

    • Who would you choose…?

    • What would happen if…?

    • How would you…?

    • Do you know someone like…?

    • Would you do the same thing in the same situation…?

    • If you had to…what would you do?

  • Point out technical terms like:

    • the author

    • the illustrator

    • contents

    • index

    • genre

    • chapter

    • title

  • Never stop your child when they are reading mid sentence to ask a question.  This will take all the enjoyment out of the reading.

  • If your child comes across an unfamiliar word, discuss the meaning of this word without using a dictionary.

Thinking about characters, settings, the plot, the descriptions, the writer’s voice in a book also helps with writing.  Children become more aware of the ingredients for a good story.  Reading will also improve vocabulary and language skills.

If your child is struggling with comprehension Kip McGrath can help.  Our qualified, experienced teachers can guide your child through comprehension techniques, improve reading skills and help with exams.

Visit our website for more details.