Tap into Your Child's Talents to Master Math (page 2)

Tap into Your Child

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Updated on Sep 4, 2013

Math and Language

This student relates to the world via words, and enjoys talking, reading, or writing.

  • Describe your own thought process while you help: “I see that this is an isosceles triangle because it has two equal sides, and that means that these two base angles are equal.” Ask your child to describe his own thinking: “Tell me how to figure out which side of a right triangle is the hypotenuse.” Putting his thoughts into words helps him clarify his ideas. If he prefers to write, have him describe it on paper.
  • Make reading material available. Ask to borrow or purchase a copy of the textbook to keep at home, so that your student can read about ideas he learned in class. Encourage him to look up additional sources on the Internet; he may find a podcast or writer with whom he connects.
  • Talk about word origins. For instance, “The quadratic equation comes from quadratus, Latin for 'square.' The quadratic formula therefore is useful to solve equations in which one term is squared. And, a quadrilateral is a shape with four sides like a square."

Math and Bodily/Kinesthetic Skills

This child loves to move, and enjoys using his body to accomplish tasks. He may get restless just sitting and listening, and prefers to explore the world and manipulate objects.

  • Allow him to get up and move around during homework time. He may like to walk around while he memorizes formulas, or tap his feet while he works out a problem.
  • Create gestures that represent concepts. For instance, “3 points determine a plane” can be taught by making a tripod with three fingers and showing that they can apply to any flat surface.
  • Have him work on real-life problems. “We all got a lot better at math when we started working,” explains General Contractor Dave Wilson. “We had no choice. When you need to construct a door with two seven-foot stiles, you figure out fast that it’s better to buy one fourteen-foot piece of wood instead of two eight-foot standard pieces.”

Math and Spatial Intelligence

This child is very visual. She is observant, good with directions and the orientation of objects in space.

  • Try to avoid “just talking.” This child’s memory depends on visual input. Always have a piece of paper or white board handy so that you can draw what you’re describing. Using the same color to tie concepts together can be very helpful.
  • Use a lot of pictures, charts, and diagrams to explain concepts. Ask her to do the same: drawing a picture is very helpful when she needs to break down a confusing problem.
  • Point out real-life pictures of mathematical concepts: a stop sign is a hexagon, two walls (planes) that meet form a line at their intersection, and one eighth of a pizza is the same as two sixteenths.

Math and Logical Intelligence

This child excels at recognizing patterns. He has an intuitive grasp of how events relate to each other, and likes to determine cause and effect.

  • Encourage a lot of mental math. This allows students to develop their own, often ingenious, ways for working out calculations. This way they can increase speed and depth of understanding.
  • Encourage estimation and guessing before tackling a calculation. This builds neural connections by calling on broader understanding of contexts and relationships.
  • Make connections to other areas of math. For instance, 1/12 is a fraction. It is also the portion of a clock from one number to the next. It’s therefore also 1/12 of 360 degrees, or 30 degrees.
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