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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Help Your Kids Learn Math



Math has become a four letter word. That's the feedback I keep getting from parents sitting at their kitchen tables trying to help their kids navigate through their math homework. Have you tried to help your kid with math lately?
Somewhere along the way a new math language has been formed and kids as well as parents are having a hard time speaking and understanding it. When did borrowing become regrouping and lowest terms become simplifying? According to a 2005 study funded by the U.S. Department of Education, children in the United States perform consistently below most of their global peers. We are failing math as a whole - teachers, students, and parents. The teachers are doing their best to keep up with steep standards that are imposed. We, as parents try to relate to today's math by showing our children how to do it the way we were taught back in the dark ages. Sadly, it's the kids who end up suffering as they bring home poor grades, feel like failures, and learn to fear math.

Download Bank of Mathematics for National Exam - Junior High School (SMP / MTs)

Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2009

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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2008

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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2007

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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2006

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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2005

Download Math - UN Exam for Junior High School (SMP / MTs)
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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2004

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Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2003

Download Math - UN Exam for Junior High School (SMP / MTs)
If a problem, please download here

Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2002

Download Math - UN Exam for Junior High School (SMP / MTs)
If a problem, please download here

Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2001

Download Math - UN Exam for Junior High School (SMP / MTs)
If a problem, please download here

Junior High School (SMP / MTs) National Exam 2000

Download Math - UN Exam for Junior High School (SMP / MTs)
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Even kids who are naturally good at math will experience panic over upcoming tests. Not sure how to study or what to study, they are left to their own devices. And, it has occurred to many parents that their own children's math abilities have superseded their own. Sloppy habits affect other students. They don't want to write out each step but instead prefer to "just do it in their heads". It takes them forever to do a few problems because they often daydream instead of bearing down and just doing the work. To top it all off, math today requires a lot of reading. Poor readers are penalized even if they are good at math computation. Eventually kids learn to avoid math and even fear it.
So, what can we, as parents do to help kids who are speaking this new math language? Make sure that emotion is taken out of the equation. Take the fear and pressure off of the student by staying calm and keeping the student relaxed. Let them show you how their teacher does it and you copy that method.

Make sure that kids have a strong number sense. Counting out loud, counting by three's, four's, etc. can help.
Math is sequential. The student may need some missing parts filled in. It's easy to do with workbooks from teacher supply stores. If the student is failing algebra, chances are he/she doesn't have a strong math base of fractions and decimals.

For long division to be accomplished the student must know multiplication facts. Traditional flashcards may not work. Have them write their facts in sand or shaving cream. "Feeling" math facts can help them stick.

Break the math into small chunks. Sometimes kids look five pages ahead and freak out over a formula that they will have to do in the future and it seems like too much for them to master. Assign five problems, allow a break, and then have them do five more.

Use colored pencils or markers on a blank page of white paper. Color keeps the creative right side of the brain busy so the analytical left side can be accessed. If the teacher won't allow color, have the student transfer the answer in pencil.

Some students do better while listening to music. Once again, this keeps the right side of the brain busy so the left side can do its job. Make sure the music is calm.

Math doesn't have to be doom and gloom. I recently helped a student who feared math to the point of absolute avoidance. After using some of the strategies above, I finally heard him exclaim with a smile on his face, "Math rocks!" I think that means "math is fun" in kid-speak.




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