Mathematics, why it is more than just 1+1!

By Jayana Desai,

Have you ever felt that math is nothing but numbers, calculations, constructions and formulas?  Have you ever asked yourself how will math help you in anyway or does it play any role in your daily life? If you are still wondering then read further because you’ll be surprised what miracles math can do to you and how it will help you in your academics as well as daily life.

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The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics” – Paul Halmos

Why is mastering the core fundamentals of math important? How can learning and practicing math exercises help children strengthen their math skills? How does math help children assess their knowledge?

Answering the whys and hows of mathematics may be as complex as the Merriam-Webster Definition of Mathematics: “The study of the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations.” However, like any mathematical problem, we need to break down the whys and hows to fully understand what is being asked and to reap the benefits of studying math.

Why is mastering the core fundamentals of Math important?

When I think about the core fundamentals of math, I think about addition to determine the sum of two numbers or subtraction to calculate the difference of two numbers. I think about the memorized multiplication facts to simplify repeated addition or the use of division to split parts or groups equally. While these basic math concepts solve math problems, they also teach children basic life skills to be successful in everyday life. This revelation came to me as a teacher while teaching 1st and 2nd grade math. The most important concept I learnt is that math is directly connected to real life. The development of mathematical skills transforms to the development of life skills.

So, let me share the 5 skills that children develop in everyday life while doing math:

Number sense – Through math, children build their knowledge of numbers and their relationships and connections. They also develop the use of numbers in their physical and social worlds.

Assessing knowledge – The “use what you know” strategy in math is a great example of how children reflect on the knowledge or information they have in their memory, which leads to building off their prior knowledge, and applying their knowledge to interpret, identify, and solve math problems.

Problem solving – Whether it is a simple addition problem or an algebraic equation, math is all about problem solving.

Critical-thinking – Studying math provides children with the opportunity to think critically and creatively to generate strategies that will solve math problems.

Communication – Though discussing math may not be a normal practice, children should be encouraged to share their approach and reasoning when solving math problems.  By talking about their thought processes, children are strengthening their communication skills.

Now take a step outside the classroom and into the real world and you will see that these skills are needed everywhere- at a food store buying groceries, qualifiers for a candidate seeking a job, conversing with a friend about a problem, or a leader guiding the way and making a difference. These skills are the cornerstones to living life.

How can learning and practicing math exercises help children strengthen their math skills?

They say, ‘Practice makes a man perfect’ and this is no different for math. By encouraging children to continuously practice math exercises, children are reinforcing and deepening their learning of mathematical concepts as well as further strengthening their skill set. They are also becoming more comfortable and confident with math and learning to enjoy doing math. Thus, in addition to the above skills, practicing math will:

• Help children see patterns
• Lend to making connections with math
• Support children’s ability to apply basic math skills to complex math concepts (i.e. x + y to y = m x + b)
• Help children recognize the relationship between math and real life

Therefore, children should make the effort to take a few minutes of their time each day to do math exercises. Doing math will only have a positive impact on their learning of math.

How does Math help children assess their knowledge?

Working out math problems can help children see the progress they are making across a wide-range of skills. Thus, doing math on a regular basis can help children:

• See their learning of concepts and formulaic procedures evolve
• Recognize their knowledge of different strategies and appropriately use strategies for problem solving
• Observe their use of patterns and connections when doing math
• Check if their answers are reasonable
• Determine if they are clearly expressing their thought processes and ideas
• Comprehend the challenges they are facing in learning math

In a nutshell, doing mathematics is pivotal to our daily lives both inside and outside the classroom. Children will cultivate life skills and build self-confidence as well as develop a love for the subject. So, do not put off math any longer – take out a pencil and paper or switch on your computer and start solving math problems!

An avid professional in the field of International Education, Jayana Desai hung up her investment banking heels of 13 years to pursue her dream of educating children. She holds a Master’s degree in International Education from New York University, Steinhardt. She has taught children at the primary grade level in both India and in New York. Her passion for educating children can be seen in the curriculum materials she develops, as well as in her love for teaching yoga to children. Being able to empower children with knowledge through positive learning experiences is Jayana’s goal. She would like them to be able to develop their body and mind, while bringing joy to their lives. Prior to her experience in Education, Jayana worked at two prestigious Investment Banks- JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers. She held various leadership positions in managing strategic, global-scale initiatives.

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K-12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

How to choose the right school for your child?

By Captain Unni Krishnan,

Today choosing a school is like choosing a car or a house, very subjective. There is no right or wrong choice. Before you decide how to choose a pre school it is important to understand this segment of education.

Pre-school system

Formal education starts at the age of 6. The segment of the school system that

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addresses students less than 6 years of age is called the pre-school.  The formal process of physically going to school starts at an age around 2 years 9 months upwards.

Kindergarten years are an important time in a child’s total development. Early childhood educators, families and members of the community should work together to provide challenging and engaging learning experiences that will build a child’s confidence, encourage them to continue to see learning as both enjoyable and useful, and provide a strong foundation for their future intellectual, physical, and social development.

Teachers in Kindergarten program must plan whole-class instruction, small-group learning, independent learning, and activities in their environment.

There should also be a balance between teacher-initiated and child-initiated activities – times when the teacher guides the children’s learning and times when children are given opportunities to choose activities to demonstrate their knowledge.

In addition to focusing on developing IQ and EQ, learning activities must develop Social quotient in children. The Pre School education has 2 well-known systems of delivery the Kindergarten and the Montessori.  Kindergarten is a drop down from the conventional system, has a larger leaning towards reading and writing and hence is followed in most regular schools. Montessori is learning by doing method and followed in specialist pre schools.

As there is a re orientation in the education system, some regular schools run both KG and Montessori streams.

Important guidelines

• In the KG program while the child must learn to read and write but if the focus is only that, we will miss out a great opportunity to develop young minds.
• Choose the school, which will suit the development of the child emotionally.
• Do not worry about how many poems the child has learnt in KG but see how many friends the child has.
• Gross motor skills; fine motor skills, language skills and number recognitions; all schools do this and all children will learn.
• Look for a school where your child will enjoy and will like to go.
• See if the child is learning to share what it has? Is the child learning to appreciate its friend’s achievements?

Let Air condition bus, hot food etc. not be the criteria to select a school.

• Open play spaces, clean toilets, pleasant staff, are important.
• It is not the qualification and the accent of the teacher that matters but the concern and care that the teacher has that will make the difference.
• More than the latest topics, values and morals are important.
• Above all, it is not enough to choose to a good school but is necessary to partner the school.
• This does not mean you have to spend time in school monitoring the teachers, have trust in the teacher’s ability as a professional.
• The child must not get the impression that the school and parents are on opposite sides. They will play one against the other.
• You can get the best for your child if both are on the same side. Otherwise it will be a blame game.

Quality time spent by parents with a young child must not be limited to intellectual development but at very young ages,

• A larger amount of time must be spent on social, moral and emotional development-
• Parents must discuss socially relevant matters, appreciation of peers, other children, sharing etc. these will show affect on the young ones.
• Today around the world and especially in our country, social awareness is very limited.
• With nuclear families, children are growing up without concern for others.
• Language used at home with house help, support staff etc. makes a large impact on children.
• To expect children not to be exposed to foul language is impractical because it is all around but make them realize that it is unacceptable and must be avoided is essential.

Choosing a school is a very subjective decision and each individual can have different priorities. The best way is to create a list of expectations and prioritize each of them and then give scores each school you visit. Total up all of them before you make your choice.

Questions to ask while selecting a school

1. Does it follow KG / Montessori or mix?
2. Is it a part of a chain of schools or a stand alone?
3. How far is the school from my house (Travel and time involved)?
4. Do I need school and day Care at one place or can they at different places?
5. Would I want my child to continue in same school from KG to Grade-12 or do I want a specialist KG school?
6. How much of emphasis on personal care?
7. What is the peer group like at school?
8. How approachable is the management?
9. How affordable is it?

Rate these on a scale of 1 to 5 or 10 and then make your decision. Anyways this is not a irreversible reaction you can always change the school if things are going out of hand but remember a school is a community and you will never achieve 100% satisfaction anything between 60 to 70 % is great.

Questions or Comments? Write to us!

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

6 ways to get involved in the education of your Kindergarten child

By Dr. Vani Vijayaraj, Endodontist and Cosmetic Surgeon

I like to play a very important role in the education of my four year old child. There is an old Chinese saying.

” Give a seed to a potter and you shall have a bonsai”

If we depend only on the school curriculum to enrich our child’s knowledge, then we are not entirely nurturing the child’s mind, body and spirit.

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In the early years, children spend most of their time outside of school. Parents should provide meaningful learning activities at home for their children, prepare, support and enhance what is taught at school.

When I was teaching my then three year old about the different professionals, we took her to a fire station, met with a policeman, a dentist, a doctor, cab driver, gardner, maid, engineer etc. She can now relate to all of them and this provides a stimulating experience.

Here are the six ways you as a parent can get involved.

1. Maintain a daily and weekly family routine

For example, every Sunday evening we have a family routine. We as a family sit in our garden on our respective comfortable chairs along with our own books and have our coffees, fruits and milk spending quality time and as we read our books we even discuss the books. Have a clutter free desk for your child to study everyday. Set a fixed time each day for study and homework and do not negotiate. Read to your child every night, reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading successfully.

2. Regularly communicate with the school

Informal discussions with school staff is the most useful way to find out about children’s progress in school. It can help us focus on things that the child needs help with.

3. Monitor after school activities

Make sure your child is always supervised, arrange for after school activities like group work on science projects (a group of parents can take turns to help the children), music, dance, sports , literary activities etc. These will help in the development of the child’s social skills.

4. Plan Field trips

Plan field trips with either with a group of your child’s friends or just the family. Field trips give your children the opportunity to touch, hold, see, taste and live what they are learning from books. Plan a trip to the farm, a wild life sanctuary, planetarium etc.

5. Involve yourself in your child’s project work

When you help your child with their project, give a lot of input, help them browse the internet for the best information, take them to the libraries and help them present the project in a excellent manner, which gets appreciated at school and makes the child want to do more.

6. Talk to your children about what they are learning at school

It is important to ask your child about school, be it a Kindergartner or a high schooler . Always ask open-ended questions about their class work —questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or ‘no.” Make sure you share any knowledge you have and if required read the textbooks or browse the net for more information.

I want to share my experience on how I got involved with my child’s project work. The month’s topic in my daughter’s school was seasons. I taught my daughter her seasons, by not just showing her pictures, but by making a diorama with her helping out. We used scrub pads to make the leaves.

• Spring: Blooms everywhere with the big yellow sun and butterflies
• Summer: Blooms turning into fruits, with thirsty birds on a bird bath.
• Autumn: Yellow and orange leaves falling, rain and also a rake.
• Winter: Snow and snow man. No leaves on the branches and the sun farthest away.

I created a chart to show all four seasons in one. She learnt quickly and the teachers told me she did a wonderful job explaining the seasons in class during Show and Tell.

Do you have any tips on how to participate in the education of  a 3-5 year old?  Please share.

Dr. Vani Vijayaraj is the Founder and Director of Impressions Dental Clinic, Whitefield, Bangalore. She is an Endodontist and Cosmetic Surgeon by profession.

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

How involved are you in your kid’s education?

By Tajinder Singh

Do you know which subjects your kid is taking at school? Do you know which of them your kid loves the most? Do you know the name of your kid’s best friend in school?

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School going kids spend 60-70% of their waking hours, including the weekends and holidays, outside of their school. Time and again it has been seen, the more the parents gets involved with their kid’s education and school, the better their school results have been. The parent’s active involvement helps in emphasizing in the kid’s mind, that the home and school are inter-connected.

There are several ways you can get involved. As my wife and I go about parenting our 2 kids, who are in the 10th and 7th class, here are few tips (that we got from others) that are working for us.

Show consistent interest in what they are doing in school. We continue to learn a thing or two from our kids or sometimes have a good laugh, when they come home excited to tell what happened in school today. This conveys to them that you value what is happening in school.

Get passionate and learn up about any sport, activity, hobby that your kid is crazy about, and participate whole heartedly in it. Yes, it can be an online/video game too! The enthusiasm and camaraderie that you will build here will help you have better conversations around their learning and education.

Sometimes, have conversations with them on what they don’t like about their school education or what worries them. It will identify issues that you might be in a position to help and fix. However, be mindful that there will be some lame excuses here!

And of course, visit their school regularly, especially when they are participating in any school activity or sport. That goes a long way in boosting their confidence.

So how are you involved? Do share your thoughts, and we would love to learn from your tips.