Quite a few people have asked me about my teaching methods and then I refer them to this blog. However, I realise that if I blog so seldom, it is not of much worth! And it won’t be of much worth to me, should I one day decide to write a book about my experiences with Tamerin. (I am trying to write a book about my views on child rearing in general and specifically about the education of pre-schoolers, but the going is slow.)

So here is more info on using money to teach math.

I have been trying to get Tammy to count money for more than two years. I remember that she said in her first end of the year speech “I have learnt how to count money.” Ha! Yes, I had taught her that and at that stage (2 years ago) I believed she could actually count money. Little did I realise that she would need much, much more, and continual, practice before she would truly be able to say “I have learnt how to count money.”!

We practised more money counting the 2nd year, but the results in her math exams were very disappointing and I realised that a much more intentional effort was needed to be able to count money and to grasp decimals. So this year, money counting was on the timetable and Tammy counted money at least once a week, writing down the amount. Many mistakes happened and it is only recently that I was able to say she could actually count money! Conclusion: to be *really *able to count money takes much more time and effort than is originally apparent. (The same can be said for mastering metrics and understanding minutes and hours, and filing according to the alphabet “in your bones”. More about these skills later.)

Part of the normal curriculum is to add columns of three, four or five amounts with carrying over and to deduct with borrowing. This we practised at nauseam in the beginning of the year with mediocre results. She could do it, but too often made mistakes – especially with deduction. She was inclined to deduct from the bottom to the top instead of borrowing e.g. 35-29 would be 14: 9-5 =4, instead of 15-9 = 6.

How to get her to *understand* what deduction is, and not to just do it without any real insight? Out came the number line again! I found that she was better able to do mental arithmetic than she was able to do on paper!

1. She had to practise to deduct 10. (e.g. 40 –10 -Nothing is easy for Tammy – everything has to be drilled first.)

2. Then we added ones to the ten and this is how she went about it to work out difference e.g. __35-11__

5-1= 4

so 35 – 1= 34

and 34-10= 24

so 35-11 = 24! Hurrah!

3. Next we practised deducting from 100.

100 – 10, 100 – 20 etc until she could do that easily. She had known her combinations e.g. 3+7 or 10 – 7 well, but could not make the transition to 100 – 70 without intentional practice. Of course, once the penny dropped, it was plain sailing.

Next was 100 – 31 =

10 – 1 = 9, so 100 -1= 99

99 –30 = 69

so 100 – 31 = 69! TADA!

(Interestingly, at first she really struggled with “easy” subtraction e.g. 100 – 1 of 100 – 2. NOTHING is easy for Tammy at first.)

4. Next step was to set up a “shop”. As we are busy with nutrition, I ask Tammy a health related question e.g. “What supplements could I take to improve my brain function?” (Vit B-complex, Omega 3, Calcium, Zinc) She then talks about what foods contain these nutrients and suggests supplements. She rounds the prices (R45.99 = R46), adds up the prices as in 2 above, deducts the sum from the money given to her and hands out the change. That is the fun part: the working out of the change!

She is so thrilled with herself when she manages all this! To me this is far better than a lot of work sheets, that were anyway mostly meaningless to her! One could always use a calculator to add and subtract, but in the end one has to be able to COUNT OUT THE CASH! No calculator can do that! Right now, Tamerin could, in my opinion, get a job as a cashier! Praise the Lord for this progress!

(Posts to follow: filing, time sums)