This is a re-post of my article from Parent-Edge Magazine: Sep 28, 2015
Math is one subject we cannot distance ourselves from – whether we make a career out of it or not, Math is an essential part of life. Math is more than just mastery over basic number functions. It is not all about + – x and divide. It is about understanding how numbers ‘fit’ into our day to day lives and the environment around us.
Does an early schooler notice car number plates and their function? Does she recognise the changes that an added family member brings into the home? Does she notice the change in weight before and after eating? Or how one apple relates to a bean, or a pencil in terms of volume and weight? I wasn’t fortunate enough to get that understanding of math until the time I learnt a new approach to Math.
This article is inspired by the teaching at my daughter’s school – Great Hearts Archway. I thank them for introducing these concepts to me. They follow Singapore Math as their module for teaching Mathematics.
In Singapore math, they focus on laying a strong foundation of Math concepts. The chart you see below is called a ‘Ten’s Frame’. In a Ten’s frame, there are 2 rows of 5 blocks and rows are filled with varying number of black dots. One block has one big black dot. Children are taught to understand how many dots are there without counting on their fingers.
E.g. in Fig. 1 kids are taught to see that all 5 blocks on top are filled; which makes 5 + one block at the bottom which makes 1. Hence, 6 blocks out of 10 are filled and 4 are empty. They are also taught to approach this problem in multiple ways. One could see it as 6 filled out of ten or 4 less than 10 or as times 5, where each row is seen as a multiple of 5.
In Fig. 2, there are 3 dots filled out of 5 at the top. Remember that always, the blocks on the top are filled FIRST before filling blocks in the bottom. However, kids are challenged to think in different ways to fill 3 in blocks of ten. So the teacher will typically discuss how the same 3 dots could be placed in any of 10 blocks below.