Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Math Concepts: Values and Subtraction! A Neuromath Junior Review!

Sponsored Review

I have always found Math to be a specialized area and an area where it may not be easy to teach. Especially with the young ones, there is a need to move steadily along yet slowly. Concepts need to be scaffold properly where we move from concrete to pictorial to abstract.

A lot of us heard of these terms before but what does it exactly mean and what are some ways where we can cement that? Following my earlier post on Dumpling and my experience with Neuromath Junior, here's more on the sharing of the Math component of their lessons.

Children under the age of 5 are not quite able to process the abstract part of Math concepts. Hence appropriate learning aids and manipulatives are needed to bind the concept in their minds. By showing a child a number on a card or by being able to recite the number sequence 1 - 10, it does not mean that a child is able to 'count'. Counting means that a child understands values and is able to associate that to a numeral.

:: Concrete
Since the beginning of the term, Dumpling's class has been introduced to number sequencing as part of the 'whole numbers' syllabus. As the term progresses on, the children were given snapcubes as a hands-on learning aid to understand the values of Tens and Ones. By taking on such a systematic approach, it allows the children to develop an understanding of what makes a ten and what does the number "23" mean / why is it written that way - because it is made of 2 tens and 3 ones.

From a homeschooling mum's perspective, this step is definitely one of the most crucial steps as that forms the fundamental of an understanding of whole numbers so I was glad that Neuromath Junior paced along this topic well. 

:: Pictorial
Among some of the many ways that Neuromath Junior moves onto a Pictorial concept is the use of flashcards. I do not personally use flashcards at home and though I am not a big fan of it, through the skilful flipping of the cards by Teacher Esther, I could see how it visually aids the children in having an understanding of grouping and that the quantity and value increase as the number gets bigger.

:: Abstract
Having now an understanding of the values of numbers through the constant reinforcement, the children are then given numbers as part of a read aloud instruction (no learning aids / pictures shown) and from there, they input the values on the worksheet provided. 

:: Subtraction
Once 'whole numbers' was tackled, the class progressed to subtraction in the later classes. Similarly, the topic was introduced with learning aids and songs. 

Above pic: Teacher Esther moving the abacus beads according to the song "5 Little Monkeys" as a concrete representation of counting down

 Above pic: Clearly Dumpling was in her element here with this song :p 

After the children understood the concept of subtraction = lesser in quantity, Teacher Esther proceeded to use another example to further explain and work with them on counting down and this time, with the story of elevators.

The 'lift panel' was then passed on to the children and they had fun counting down via the 'buttons' on it and used it to work on a worksheet. 

Teacher Esther then associated the buttons on the panel to a number line and Dumpling was given another worksheet to attempt where Teacher Esther can then reinforce / guide immediately if the children are still unsure.

Like most of their other worksheet activities, only one page was attempted and the other was used for home practice.

What I liked about the class is that the lessons are definitely well planned and the activities are clearly designed to allow for tiered learning: from concrete to pictorial (and when ready, 'abstract') to build on the children's understanding of the various topics and Math operations. Having reviewed this for more than half a term, I wish that the lesson duration can actually be longer - 70/75 mins instead of the current 60mins as I can see how Dumpling enjoys and benefits from it so far. 

Neuromath Junior Enrichment Centre
272 Upper Bukit Timah Road #01-13/14 Singapore 588212 
(Old Fire Station @ Green Block).

Dumpling and I are invited to participate and review Neuromath Junior's 5YO Math Intelligence Programme in order to give my opinion of it. All opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the complimentary classes given. 

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