Saturday, April 16, 2011

From Counting To Algebra - A Simple Recipe

Now more than ever people keep asking me for advice on teaching/helping their kids get going with math.

Recently someone remarked to my advice that *I just don't see how you do it*...

So I did my best to summarize it quickly:

john was just over 3.5 when he started *tracing numbers* - the first kumon math book. we just did workbook pages every day until he exhausted them. got through grade 6 math and into algebra in 1.5 years.

the path is very easy, just do the books one after another. you'll have to sit down with them and put in the time because they can't really press forward each step on their own. but obviously it's an investment that pays off. need discipline too. if you take a week off the kids lose momentum and may decide to put up a fight when you start up again. i've learned to never take days off - and to NEVER give in to their protests. even if you just do 10-15 minutes on a busy day it keeps you moving forward.

you can see the books here:

80 pages a piece.

after that you have these:

i think they are 73 pages each.

i deferred the *word problem* books until much later.

i skipped the grade 1 books.

16*73 + 14*80 = 2,288 pages

$hit....that's the first time i added them up.

that's 1,525 per year, 127 per month, or just over 4 per day for a 1.5 year time period.

i'm going to have to write this up as a post for my blog. thanks for stimulating me!
Note the Kumon books can be found at your local Big Box bookseller or on Amazon for about $7 a piece.

Oh, and make sure you math-interested people check out Math Rider. I have my daughter on it for around 40 minutes a day and she (and I!) are cruising with it. It's more than a little brutal teaching kids the math facts and this program will really help.

BTW, if you make your child do 4 pages a day of math, every day, they'll come to expect it as normal and won't put up a fight. PLUS daily work begets daily progress....and that begets pride and self-confidence.

Don't just think about it, DO IT.


Anonymous said...

Thanks to you I have purchased the kumon books and the "get ready to" explode the code series for my 4 yo grandson. Also purchased the Snap Circuit Jr (which we both LOVE). I was curious about one thing...

It seems that my GS isn't really "thinking" about the questions in the workbooks just yet. For example, if the problem is circle the item that doesn't match, he'll just circle one really fast; with looking. I was just curious if you thought he'd eventually start paying more attention and care more about answering the problems correctly? Did you notice anything similar when your kids starting out?

CaptiousNut said...


Do my kids lazily guess?

You betcha!

Just today I was scolding my daughter for adding 7 to 8 WITH HER FINGERS while on Math Rider - at this point she should know better.

And my son is forever trying to solve the last part of equations, e.g. "3x + 2 = 25" in his head and consistently making careless mistakes!

On multiple choice type tests and on software they'll always be disposed toward guessing instead of figuring it out thoroughly. That's why I believe in going over material repeatedly, i.e. cycling back, and in essay/verbal type questions for subjects like math. This is the main reason why I have my son write out those math blog posts with complete sentences and whatnot. Nobody really gets this stuff the first time anyway.

I'm delighted to hear you bought the books. Do let me know how it goes or whatever I can do to help.