Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Finding the Right Method (Counting and Addition)

JS loves to shop and so I set up a grocery store at home and played shopping with him. I thought that it was a good way to teach him counting and addition, so I gave him some lego bricks to use it as his money. For an easy start, each item cost one buck, which means, one lego brick for each item. 

JS playing shopping recently. 
Every time when he pays at the counter, he would have to count the number of items and arrange them in a straight line. Then he had to put one lego brick next to each item so that he would be paying the right amount of money. 

Sounds interesting and easy? I thought so too but JS did not really like to do the counting at the counter. Before I introduced this "paying" method, he enjoyed the game but after that, he would only play two rounds of shopping. 

This situation which I described above happened about a year ago. After the experience, we still do lots of simple counting activities like counting the number of flowers in a picture, the number of pillows on the sofa and so on but nothing more complicated than that. I thought that I should not pressure him to count in a way that would make him hate it so I tried to look for other methods. 

By February this year, I thought it was really time to get serious and I started all over again from the very basic. I made him count objects and arrange them in groups, from one to ten. In the beginning, he still struggled a bit but after a few rounds, he started to have more confidence and could do better. I shared this part in a previous post

Since he was already picking up well in counting and could count to 30, the next step was to teach him addition. First, I made him do his additions using lego bricks. I put the plus sign in between two groups of lego bricks, followed by the equal sign. I thought that he would surely be able to do it since he was counting with real objects but I was so wrong. He was so confuse that he did not want to proceed after solving two problems. After the activity, as I pondered back to find the reason why he could not do it, I realised that it was simply too abstract for him to imagine the whole thing! I was doing it the adult way with him. 

Not wanting him to dislike counting due to this incident, I stopped for about a month before introducing addition again, using a different method. 

In order to make things clearer for him, I decided to use the conventional method (see below picture) and it worked! He got the idea immediately after the first problem and could do the rest with very minimal guidance. 

Only 3 days after the activity, he could solve seven problems on his own and they were all correct. I was glad that I finally helped him to understand addition.

Subsequently, we proceeded to other ways of doing addition and he could easily solve the maths problems, with some help from me but as long as he has some objects to help him with the counting, he was able to do it. 

JS drawing a number to create his own math problem.

JS trying to solve his math problem.

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