Tuesday, 23 July 2013

PSLE Preparation - Math Concepts (1)

DD's relationship with me has improved greatly over the past month. My perseverance is beginning to see some positive changes in her. I am very happy I stuck with my decision to relentlessly work on our mother-daughter relationship first before anything else. In fact, her relationship with her father has improved as well. If her sister could tone down some of her regular annoyance, I bet their sisterly relationship might improve as well. :rotflmao: Before I forget, I must add this. Thank you, God for listening to the prayers in my heart. Thank you. Timing couldn't be better too. :wink:

Remember how this year, schools have been shoving top school papers after top school papers and school practice papers one after another to all the children, despite their abilities? This drilling method will only work with students whose concepts are strong and already pretty solid. Why so? It is because for students who are just there or neither here nor there when it comes to Math... they are just like bulls led by their horns to work the fields. Yuh, just going through the motion.

If being at an angsty phase since her P3 years was not enough, DD has been out of luck with getting good teachers. By good, I meant to say teachers who really know how to teach and reach out. Not just those with the toughest ranks in the school or the system and definitely not just those with seniority. Nope, from our experience, seniority does not denote ability to teach better if at all.

She was within the supposedly better classes for awhile since P4. Her grades for all subjects were within 70 and above (range). This, without much help coming from us, the parents. Why? Because all the teachers taught. The teachers made lessons fun.. created goals for the children to work towards.. were the only teachers who made after-school supplementary lessons truly supplementary. By that I meant, they do not use those after-school hours to cover syllabus. (Except for Science. :roll:

Math teacher was second in line after a Mrs HOD herself, but my two cents was that second in line was heaps better with classroom management, engaging a class of over 40 (yes, there were spillovers) and keeping to curriculum.. READ : They did not need to skip or miss out on PE lessons. C'mon! Children NEED these PE lessons hokay! They need to loosen up their muscles.. run about.. lose some steam.. PLAY! Only then, students will have drive to move along with their day in good spirit and energy. His supplementary lessons got students involved in Math games and quizzes relevant to the topics. His biggest project with them : A mini Math carnival showcasing self-designed Math games concocted by the students themselves for other students to try out. Cool woh! :cool: 

Under his guidance, ALL the students were constantly prepared for those mini-tests and exams without as much as having to drill them to be prepared. Every student was to write daily entries of what had been covered for every day's lessons. The concepts, some sample questions and ended with recap/reflection. Done daily, this routine became almost like an important meal of the day for them and the students looked forward to being the ones to remember what had been taught. No drilling involved. Just regular practice with varying degree of difficulty to the questions. Quizzes still went on during curriculum hours. Not just for supplementary.

Now, with this good foundation in place in P4... who was to know that in P5, everything put in place will just disappear into thin air? Well, we were unlucky enough to be stuck with not one but three subject teachers who just plainly put, couldn't deliver. Two of them were HODs. These HODs are probably too used to teaching children who are fast learners and pretty smart, hence they have not much experience working with children of varying abilities and they are not exactly ones who could muster enough motivation to work the students to their best learning styles which the previous teacher could do flawlessly and almost effortlessly. It is like when you know you have engaged the best driver to coach you in your driving skills but yet this good driver ain't a good teacher/coach at all. Being versed in something may not necessarily mean one can impart the knowledge well.

We (DD, myself, hubs, the other classmates... the list goes on) wasted a whole year of P5 and we have to pick up the pieces ourselves. Why? Because DD asked, her friends asked too, she explained stuff again but in exactly the same way over and over again. The children switched off. Many started to get pulled down. DD was the first few. Worse was, this teacher instilled a kind of teaching that was not only hands-off but also non-inviting. As a parent, I found DD shutting me out because teacher said this is the way.. HER way. DD struggled. At home we struggled. Even when the teacher's way didn't work, DD was almost not allowed to be open to how we could make it work for her. P5 was the worst year for us. In P6, DD fell to the bottom 5 classes and yes, it just got worse. Our relationship also suffered because we were insistent that she work with us or else she would really fall into the deepest of the pit. She did.. :( Only until just recently. :D

This long ( :offtopic: ) post is to share how we can and we must continue to believe in our children. Believe in the things they CAN do, not just bug them on the things they cannot... but only if we believe.

Because a lot of time was lost, we needed to pick up in double time. With our relationship and time to hit the books. All these months, DD has been shoved unsuitable books and references that rendered her helpless. With the Math teacher moving on really quickly does not help, but they are rushing to finish syllabus before prelims. Not much of a choice there.

I, found solace and hope in this book that we have gone through together of late. It starts out with somewhat a diagnostic test which helps one distinguish the specific area of pressing concern that is hindering the progress of fully understanding the topic. Then, it moves on with simple direct concept questions followed by a post test that can show if the child/student has eventually understood the concepts better.

I am sharing this with other parents who may be Mathematically challenged like myself, who have children whose concepts in Math are not very strong, who have children who are not confident in doing Math questions and top school papers.. etc.. you can start with this. This book has helped me.. helped DD.. and helped us both understand where each of us stand. I can pin my finger on where the lapse of her understanding is and she can 'show' me where she is finding difficulty in moving on. Ohh, the book comes with VERY detailed answers. :wink:

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Diagnostic Practice in Maths Primary 6 (3rd Edition) [Paperback]
Size: 26cm X 19cm / Pages : 386
Author : Peter Lim
Publisher : Educational Publishing House
Level : Primary 6
Item Code : 9789814403542
Usual Price : S$9.90
NOW : S$8.91

Synopsis : Diagnostic Practice in Maths is a series of six books written in accordance with the latest Primary Mathematics syllabus issued by the Ministry of Education. It is a well-established means of evaluating pupils' understanding and application of mathematical concepts through the following: Pre-Test, main exercise and Post-Test.

First, pupils are expected to complete the Pre-Test so that any weakness in a particular topic can be ascertained. The main exercise will then provide pupils with thorough practice that helps to solidify their foundation. Pupils who have completed the main exercise should be able to see a marked improvement when attempting the Post-Test. Pupils can record and track their performance on the score sheet provided.

If you are at a loss as to how to help your child with Math concepts that has been covered thus far, this book may just be the answer to kick-starting the engine for your child. Yes, PSLE is nearing. But if we do it well, we can do it right.

Parents with children who are weak academically can work with their children's strengths... for once they are more confident and better equipped with the right strategies to work the less challenging questions better... they can be more motivated to try out the harder ones that they usually gave up on. Jia-you!

DD failed her SA1 Math. She scored like 34 or was it 32 in her SA1 Math paper. It has been an uphill task but together, we have pulled through to at least see some light now. DD has slowly worked on to get slightly higher scores in her school's practice papers.. followed by a decent just pass.. to a good score of 75 on the dot. 

DD came back ever so cheerful one afternoon a week ago and said, "Mom, you won't believe it. We did it, mom! We did it! Look what I got for my last Math exam practice paper?" 

The two separated scores revealed on the cover of the Math booklet read : 

36 + 52 .....

Yup, I choked.. I rubbed my eyes.. I sat up straight.. I squinted on it again, thinking my addition could be wrong.. (jialat!).. 

Yes, it was a whopping 88! The highest she ever scored in two years, mebbe three. :oops:

We hugged and I think we probably did a quick jig in embrace. I looked at her and held her shoulders firmly, "I am so happy... for you, babe. Because YOU did it."

It may just be an easy neighbourhood school Math paper and probably not a big deal to many others in better schools, but it IS a big achievement for the usual under-achiever. One heck of a confidence boost. So... fellow PSLE-ers... and parents... 

Don't give up! :grphug:

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