Published: Oct 09, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Nov 27, 2012 06:11 PM
My 9-year-old has forgotten many of the multiplication tables he learned in third-grade. Now I am faced with the unfortunate task of cattle-prodding him this track-out to learn them again so he will be ready for long division when he returns to the fourth-grade.
How are you going to do it? asked a friend.
I shrugged. Memorization and domination, I guess.
I mean, is there any other way?
Weve explored the apps and websites and flashcards and all of that, but Im starting to think nothing can replace a harassing and annoying grown-up shouting as you walk down the hall, Whats eight times six?
Like my dad did.
I tried leaving the kid to his own devices with these apps and websites, trusting him to police himself, but it dawned on me that he spends his time at the computer doing the ones tables. Or the zeros.
I recently discovered through another parent that there could be a way to avoid this, or at least to better prepare our kids for math at school. Instead of reading your kids a bedtime story, how about tossing out a shudder! word problem before bed?
I know, it does seem mean. But then again, my cattle-prodding for the next few weeks is not going to be fun for anyone.
The site http://bedtimemathproblem.org has more than 14,000 subscribers. Its free to sign up, and each day parents get a word problem via email. There are three levels of difficultylabeled wee ones, little kids and big kidsso one email can work for multiple kids.
Thankfully, answers are included.
Its the same sort of nightmarish stuff you remember. Heres an example of the little kids level: If a lava lake is 1,150 degrees and the hottest record temperatures in the U.S. are about one-tenth of that number, how hot is normal super-hot for the U.S?
If you quit reading at one-tenth, raise your hand.
I liken word problems to those logic questions on the SAT: On Mondays and Wednesdays, you can sit next to Ted and Janie, but on Thursdays and Fridays you must sit next to Alice and Sue. Where do you sit on Tuesdays?
Or something like that. Im probably leaving out a lot of important parts, but it doesnt matter. I just always picked C.
Could this website save your kids from the frustration and low SAT scores these types of questions are wont to bring? I dont know. But we could use the help.
A 2007 study in the journal Developmental Psychology reported a childs math-skills level at kindergarten entry was an even stronger predictor of later school achievement than reading skills or the ability to pay attention.
And the Program for International Student Assessment in 2010 reported U.S. teens perform below average compared with students in 33 other industrialized nations.
So maybe it wouldnt hurt to get a little creative and throw out a verbal word problem before bed. I think Ill start by yelling, Whats nine times seven?
Nothing wrong with a little warm-up before the main event.