Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Problem Solving Maths with the Essential Know How and Tools

Mathematics has always been my favourite subject when I was still in school.  It still is actually.  But as I grew older, I "returned" many of what I had learnt to the teacher, a.k.a forgotten everything.  Common?  I guess when I was younger, I was simply trying to learn what I can in order to pass the examinations.  When asked about a certain way of solving a Maths problem then, it's probably all about "Because Mummy / Daddy says to do it this way." or "Because Teacher XXX says use this method.", without really understanding why.

Now, as a parent of a Primary 2 child, I seem to be going back to school once again.  That addition and subtraction format, the reading of the weighing scale, and of course, the problem sums.  D, the P2 boy, has never attended any mathematics enrichment classes or tuition classes as this mummy here believes in helping him as much as I can, on my own.  This also mean that I have to constantly be in tune with the education system.

When Marshall Canvendish Education ("MCE") invited me for it's Heuristics workshop, I jumped at that opportunity.  I have heard so much about MCE's workshops from friends and I knew this was going to be an eye-opener.


Firstly, heuristics - I was already stumped by this word.  Sounded profound but it actually isn't that bad.  Layman terms: problem-solving.  

Secondly and most importantly, I knew the syllabus has changed (as compared to my school days).  I knew too that there are definitely a lot more methods when solving word problems that I never knew of.

If you do not know, the Mathematical Processes consists of two parts: Thinking Skills (Know How) and Heuristics (Tools)

Thinking Skills
Anaylzing parts and whole
Identifying patterns and relations
Spatial visualization

Use a diagram / model
Make a systematic list
Look for patterns
Work backwards
Use before-after concept
Use guess and check

In all word problems, we need both the tools and the know-how.  Missing either one, we will not be able to understand the problems.  From Primary 1, children are taught to use diagrams / models to solve their word problems.  They start from easy models, cultivating this habit of drawing models as this will help them visualise situations and Maths problems as they grow older and advance to the next level.

I vaguely remember about having learnt and used model drawing in school, using "units" when solving Maths problems.  While at the workshop, I could still do some of the Maths problems, although my model drawings were not the best visual representations.  This is exactly what Ms. Peggy mentioned about learning to use models to help with Maths problems instead of using memorisation.  With the use of models, it helps clarify the problems and also to allow us, the problem solvers to interpret them correctly.  It is all about understanding and comprehending the questions.

Though it was a 9am to 3.30pm workshop, there was never a dull moment.  I know of people who complain about workshops being monotonous, listening-and-copying-notes-only, but our trainer, Ms. Peggy Foo is brilliant.  Every participant had a chance to participate and the class (less than 20 participants) was lively with interactions and hands-on practices.

Apart from learning about model drawing, guess and check and other heuristics, a big takeaway was about how to help a child by identifying and analysing his / her learning difficulties.  I do not want the boys to rely on memorisation and forcing them to do practice papers after practice papers.  Thus, I view this as something crucial in their learning journey and I would like to assist them as we tackle the primary school years.

I would say it was a great 6 hour spent, as I leave the workshop understanding more about heuristics and how I am able to better help my children with their Maths problems in the near future.  Sounding like a broken recorder, but it's really about being involved with the children's studies and not feel helpless when they ask for help.  Definitely not because I am a tiger mum or a kiasu mum because you know I am not.  :)

You may wish to click here and here to have some understanding on heuristics and the model method.  As humans learn better with hands-on examples, coupled with explanations from someone with experience a.k.a. a trainer, you should consider attending the many Parent Workshops that Marshall Cavendish Education organises.  Almost everything from English to Maths.  Chinese too.

With the June school holidays here and soon over, parents with PSLE children will definitely benefit from MCE's Parent Seminars or Student Workshops.

There is an upcoming non-PSLE workshop, Problem-Solving with Bar Models (Upper Primary) happening on 10 June 2017 and I am pleased to inform that MCE has offered a 50% discount to one of our readers.  

To be lucky winner to pay only $42.50 (usual cost $85) for an almost 6 hour workshop, here are the steps to enter:

1. Be a B.C.D.E. That's US Facebook page fan.

2. Be a Marshall Cavendish Education page fan.

3. Like and share the corresponding Facebook post (your post must be made PUBLIC for me to see it).

Giveaway ends 5 June 2017, 11.59pm.

Please note:

- Winner will be chosen at random.

- Tickets are not exchangeable for cash and are not transferable.

- Prize will be given out by sponsor.

- Winners will be announced on blog, Facebook and notified by email.  Please respond within 24 hours, failing which, a new winner will be chosen. 

- The giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Good luck!

At the beginning of the post, I mention about reading much about MCE's workshops.  Depending on which school level your child is in, you may in interested in reading the experiences from my mummy blogger friends and I am sure, you will gain more insights, just like I did.

Mummy Ed - Stretching Your Child’s Mathematical Abilities – Marshall Cavendish Education Workshop 2017

Mummy Serene - Marshall Cavendish Education - P3 & P4 Maths Coaching Workshop

Mummy Christy - PSLE Student English Workshop by Marshall Cavendish Education & PSLE English Workshop for Parents – How to Tackle The English Paper

Last but not least, read Mummy Jennifer's thoughts and experiences here.  Though we attended the same Heuristics workshop, you can tell that every individual has their own thoughts and views.  No doubt it's all positive experiences!

Disclosure: I was invited to the workshop by Marshall Cavendish Education.  No monetary compensation was received.  All photos and opinions are true to my own unless otherwise stated.

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