One mum's take on a parent workshop on Maths heuristics
Teaching maths to your child is never easy, especially when there is a heavy emphasis on problem solving. Attending a parent workshop on maths heuristics could help, as one mum found out.
If your child is already in primary school, you would have noticed that the way Maths is taught is different from yesteryears’. Gone are the days when drill-and-practice was advocated for success in the subject. Instead, the teaching and learning of Maths today focuses on imparting life skills, such as problem solving, to children to help them get ahead in life.
With a problem-solving curriculum in place, heuristics makes an entry into the classroom. Simply put, heuristics are strategies to help us solve problems. Yet, heuristics can be a mind-boggling concept, both for your child and you.
This concern has not gone unnoticed. There are now parent workshops that you can attend to understand heuristics better.
One of our readers, Serene Seah, recently attended one such parent workshop, ‘Using Heuristics to Solve Maths Problems’ by Marshall Cavendish Education. Read her review of the workshop below:
For someone like me who is far from being a Maths whiz even in my school days, seeing my son, Xavier, who is in Primary One, struggling to solve Maths problems was something that made my head throb with worry. Like any parent, I sorely wanted to help my child but felt quite helpless many times.
Before I registered for the workshop, I was actually looking for a Maths guide book for myself. I wanted to learn and understand the method of solving Maths problems first, so that I could better explain the methods to Xavier.
That was when I noticed that the Maths guide books from Marshall Cavendish Education include worked examples, which shows a systematic and structured breakdown of the Maths questions. This is an excellent way to help children learn to analyse the question first, before leading them to choose the correct approach to solve the problems.
After all, as the saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime’. When I heard about a parent workshop on using heuristics to solve Maths problems, I signed up for the workshop without any hesitation. It was an opportunity I knew I could not let pass.
Nuts and Bolts of the Workshop
Common maths heuristic challenges addressed
I am glad to say that the workshop did not disappoint and it certainly met my expectations. The workshop trainer, Ms Peggy Foo from Marshall Cavendish Education, was not only knowledgeable but was also able to fully understand the problems faced by parents. She addressed most of our concerns and the challenges we faced when teaching our children Maths.
She gave us a good insight on the kinds of heuristics to be used for particular types of Maths problems. I also learnt how to identify patterns or trends to solve certain kinds of questions.
I particularly enjoyed the simple game of tangram. This game though simple, is capable of cultivating a child's thinking skills. It gives the child opportunities to:
- Practise using the heuristic "Guess-and-Check".
- Improve spatial visualisation skills, which are important for topics such as geometry.
Another takeaway for me is that such games seed determination in our children as they would arrive at the solutions only after a few rounds of trial and error.
The role play on picking out errors when attempting the Maths questions also taught us parents how to employ scaffolding questions to help our children to identify their errors and zoom in on the specific areas where improvement is needed.
Going beyond just the technical aspects of Maths, Ms Foo went on to clear some of the parents’ misconceptions about Maths in general. For example, she highlighted how it was futile and perhaps even damaging to use the traditional drill-and-practice method for Maths when the child has not even grasped the concept well.
The focus needs to be on inculcating a love for learning Maths, and I could not agree more. She also added that parents should not spoon-feed their children, as this cripples their ability to think and reflect, and in turn affects their performance in Maths.
A thumbs up for the workshop
I would not say I am now an expert at solving all questions involving heuristics, but I certainly have gained much knowledge from the workshop and picked up useful pointers that I can use to help my son. I strongly recommend this workshop to any parent who is struggling to solve and teach Maths problems that involve heuristics to their child, just like how I used to be.
If you would also like to benefit from attending a Maths workshop on problem-solving, you may sign up for the next parent workshop session on ‘Using Heuristics to Solve Maths Problems’ by Marshall Cavendish Education