Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Marshall Cavendish Education - P3 & P4 Maths Coaching Workshop

Math, being one of my most hated subject, I struggled to pass both my Additional Mathematics and Elementary Mathematics and not to mention during my three years of studies when I did my Diploma in Marine Engineering. I did not fail any modules, just that I did not pass with flying colours.

For Xav, we sailed through P1 and P2 smoothly without having much difficulty in managing Mathematics. We were satisfied with his grades for Math though it could be better or probably aced the papers if he was not careless.

I did not send him for any tuition or enrichment classes as I do not believe in loading him with classes for subjects which I could teach him within my ability. What I did was letting him practise using assessement books and past year papers on a daily basis. Afterall, Math is about understanding the concepts and practising.

Occasionally, I will ask for some "time-off" from Don so that I could attend workshops organised by Xav's school and external workshops for parents to help better in coaching the kids in their work. I feel the need to equip myself with the knowledge to guide him better.

Over two Saturdays, I sat in a Parent's Workshop [ P3 & P4 Maths Coaching Workshop] conducted by one of my favourite publisher- Marshall Cavendish Education. The reason why I was there, the kia-si me started to get jitters as I realised that the difficulty level for Math is slowly getting more and more challenging, especially so in solving Heuristic problems, which is my worst nightmare and I seriously hated to deal with it.

The workshop basically covered topics like:
- Whole numbers
- Fractions
- Decimals
- Geometry
- Measurements
- Heuristics

Let's me share some of the tips on Whole Numbers. How would you say 22345 to your child ?

If you have been reading out the whole number as "2,2,3,4,5" you had better stop this habit and read out in words instead "Twenty-two thousand, three hundred and forty-five". Get your child to read out in words too if they have been reading like the way you do. It allows them to learn the place of the numbers better.

Learning can take place anywhere! Supermarket is a good learning ground. Get your child to look at price tags, weigh the vegetables and get them to read out the value in words.

You can also spot number car plates and get your child to think on the spot. For instance, 2478, there are several ways to make it fun. It's so common around us and I did not think of it. This is good to keep the brain thinking constanttly.

1. Ask your child to read out the number in words.
2. Ask what is the place /value of each digit.
3. Ask what is the sum of the four digits when they are being added up. Great to train their mental calculation ! You can ask them to multiply as well!

Ms Dhillon highlighted the common mistakes made by the kids as well.

Weak Area #1 Common problem is always the "hypen", comma and "and". I did not know that they will be penalized too if they forget to write or if they put it at the wrong places. Using her rich teaching experience, Ms Dhillon pointed out which are the "weak areas" for students and the type of common mistakes she had came across.

Tip #1 Using back the same number as above "22345". Using the Rule of 3 (Refer to the bolded part), if it's before the 3 digits, use a comma, if its inside the 3 digits, use "and".

In words: "Twenty-two thousand (comma), three hundred and forty-five"
In numbers 22(comma) 345 and not 22345.

Then again, it depends on the one marking the papers. If they are lenient enough to close one eye or if they want to nitpick on this and fault the child. For me, I would rather drill Xav and let him learn the right way early to make it a good habit for himself and Vera if I can instill in her before she starts official school.

Weak Area #2 Spelling Forty as "Fourty" and Ninety as "Ninty"was one of the areas pointed out. I remembered Xav made the exact same mistakes not once in these two years and we were told that you'll be surprise that even older kids have the same problem.

Tip #2 : Do not over-pronounce "Fourty" and if possbile, get the child to read out the sentence which they wrote and hear if they sound right.

The understanding of the basic concepts is very important. I came across this in Xav's textbook but I did not know how to explain to him because I, myself cannot understand the basic concept behind how the answer is being deprived. I was only taught the old fashion way of just multiplying and carry up without being taught on the concept why. Now you see why I could not explain and probably it also explains why my math foundation is so weak. It is tedious with the renaming but it teaches the basic concept which the kids were being taught and explained on numbers with renaming.

We were also taught on Heuristics, to read and identify which methods could help to visualize better so that it makes it easier for the kids to see. These are a few methhods:
- Draw a diagram / model
- Guess and Check / Working Backwards
- Look for a pattern
- Listing
- Make a supposition
- Solving part of the problem
- Simplify the problem

Then, we were tasked to work in groups on different Heuristics problems and shared how we solved them.

I did not find it easy at all, so what do you think it will be like for our kids who are only nine or ten years old to solve such problems?  Never throw them the problems and leave it to them and expect them to solve by themselves unless they know how to. If we find it "daunting" to solve, it's exactly the same way how our kids will feel.

The parents in the workshop, some could solve but not using the fastest, time-saving method. Time factor is a very important, the kids need to do it fast and accurate during the PSLE exams. Hence, it is good if we can start training them early.

Look at the question below, go ahead and laugh at me but I really did not know how to do it.  This is the typical kind of question that always either made me shut off otherwise, I will list the letters until I reach the 57th position. But what if it's not 57th position but at a 156th position, which is much higher? Am I going to waste my time listing? I was so glad that I learnt how to solve this question using the right method, in less than 30 secs.

At the end of the day, Ms Dhillon emphasised that it is not all about getting an answer for the questions but more of the process of getting the answer and understanding the concepts.

Yes, back to the basics and I am ashamed of myself that I did not even know how to count squares properly, until we were taught how to distinguish a partically shaded square to be counted as one, half or zero We got to hands on as well, identifying the most effective way in counting the area of an irregular shaped object.

If we are able to find the relation wtihin the question itself, tthe problem can be solved easily.

By the way, this is not the first time, I am attending Parents Workshop organised by Marshall Cavendish. I have attended one Math Heuristics Workshop conducted by Ms Peggy Foo when Xav was in Primary One. She is one very engaging trainer and her workshop is never boring. You can also hope over to Mummy Ed's blog to read on the recent workshop she attended on Stretching your child's Mathematical Abilities.

Apart from Mathematics, you can also read on Mummy Christy, who blogs at KidsRSimple on:
PSLE Student English Workshop
PSLE English Workshop for Parents

She has also generously shared her No Tuition #30minrevision tips on her blog. I find them pretty useful and am inspired to start on this #30minrevision too! 

For more updates on Marshall Cavendish Parents/ Student Workshops, you can visit or follow them on :

Facebook: Mashall Cavendish Education

If you are very much involved in coaching and revising with your child, these workshops will be great to attend.

Cost Fee : $150
(Two days course, 9am - 4.30pm with one lunch included)

I did not see the date for the next run for 2017, do look out for any new updates on their website. These are some of the upcoming workshops should you be keen to attend. Do click on the picture to enlarge, this is the best I can show.

Venue: Times Centre
1 Industrial Road
Singapore 536196

Tel: 6213 9300

Thank you for reading and if you would like to stay tune for future updates, do follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram !

Disclaimer: I was invited to this attend this workshop to learn how I can coach better for P3 & P4 levels. No monetary compensation is involved and all opinions are of my own.

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