Rather than sending their children to tuition lessons, today parents are opting to attend workshops themselves to understand what their children are learning and be able to support them.
The game changer for students in Singapore today may no longer be tuition. Instead, parents may need to start taking some lessons to help them.
Sending your children for tuition whenever they fail to catch up, may soon be a thing of the past. After all, “students relying too much on tuition” was a much debated topic in parliament, where MP Lim Bio Chuan cautioned that reliance on tuition over time may result in the loss of skills geared for self-directed learning.
To enhance the development of 21st century competencies in our children, the Ministry of Education, Singapore, hopes for every student to be a self-directed learner – one who questions, reflects, perseveres and takes responsibility for his own learning. Apart from the exposure at school, you too, can play a part in moulding your children into a self-directed learner at home.
To facilitate self-directed learning, it is important for you to guide your child with purposeful questions that empower him to solve problems independently. Today, we see a growing number of parents signing up for workshops to help them understand what their children are learning in school. In fact, even schools conduct workshops on specific concepts in various subjects like Maths, Science or English, just for parents.
Help rendered at home
While the intention of homework is to allow students to familiarise themselves with the concepts learnt and practise the methods taught in schools, it is much dreaded by parents. Often, your child will turn to you whenever they are stumped, but what happens if you, too, are stumped?
Mother to an eight-year-old boy, Ling Yit Lin, commented that despite having done A-level Maths, she had no idea how to do Primary 2 maths. Today, model-drawing for word problems is taught in primary school mathematics, a concept that is unfamiliar to most, who, like Yit Lin, had never been introduced to it in school. The best option, then, may just be for you to understand model-drawing in order to guide your child.
To understand why your child is struggling with the syllabus
As parents, you often worry when your child underperforms. The possibilities that crop into your mind would include:
- low attention span in class
- inappropriate teaching style
What if there is a deeper underlying reason to this problem?
Have you ever wondered:
- why can’t my child understand what is asked of a maths question?
- why can’t my child grasp the concepts of maths topics?
- And why does my child struggle with subtraction?
If these are constantly on your mind, attending parent workshops would go a long way in helping you understand how your child thinks and how to go about resolving the common misconceptions he may have.
According to a local report, Cindy Leow, whose son sat for his PSLE last year, said that after attending a parenting workshop for maths, she became acquainted with the methods of problem solving. Now she understands her son’s challenges and is able to help him “instead of just nagging at him without realising the problem”.
More than just drill-and-practice
According to the Ministry of Education (MOE) Primary Mathematics Teaching and Learning Syllabus, 2013, one of the objectives of learning mathematics is to “develop thinking, reasoning…skills through a mathematical approach to problem-solving.” Going beyond mathematics, the other curricula today are also moving away from the routine drill-and-practice and encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills in your child.
Dr Amina Eladdadi, Associate Professor of Mathematics at The College of Saint Rose, New York, believes that problem-solving skills and critical thinking, which are “fundamental to learning mathematics”, do not develop overnight. Instead, these skills are acquired through instruction and practice. This requires greater time, involvement and devotion and may not be easily taught during tuition lessons that your child attends once or twice a week. By consistently exposing them to non-routine questions at home, it would certainly help to build these skills faster.
As the saying goes, parents are a child’s first teachers. Why not learn the relevant skills from experts to help your child?
The solving of word problems is taught extensively in Mathematics lessons in Singapore schools. The model drawing method is a common problem-solving approach used in school. Heuristics like model drawing helps to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The problem-solving approach, using the model drawing method, is used in your child’s maths lessons in school.
Polya’s problem-solving principles implemented by MOE constitutes the following four steps:
- understanding the problem (identifying what is being asked)
- devising a plan (formulating a set of strategies)
- carrying out the plan (executing the selected strategies), and
- looking back (checking and interpreting the results)
As each of the steps gives opportunities for probing, parents can be assured that critical thinking is nurtured during the process.
Most parents and children struggle to understand the model-drawing method. When mastered, your child becomes equipped with a powerful tool to make maths visual. The model-drawing method helps your primary school-going children understand and organise complex information to solve mathematical problems.
Workshops to attend
If you are looking to learn about problem-solving and model-drawing for mathematical word problems, you can sign up for upcoming parent workshops conducted by Marshall Cavendish Education, the leading provider of holistic educational solutions.
How to solve challenging maths problems
The first part of this series uncovers the problem-solving curriculum. Challenging maths problems from different levels will be used as examples to help parents understand the processes involved in problem-solving. Parents will learn about:
- Polya’s 4-step problem-solving method
- the strategies to help children in solving word problems
Date: 29 August 2015
Time: 9am to 4pm (including 1-hour lunch break)
The second part of this series explores the common tools used to solve word problems involving whole numbers, fractions, percentage and ratio. Model- drawing is introduced in lower primary to equip pupils with the foundation to solve challenging problems in upper primary levels. To ensure that children grasp the concept of model-drawing, parents attending this workshop will learn:
- Strategies to help children who have difficulties solving challenging problems
- The different skills required in using the model method
- Common tools used to solve word problems involving whole numbers, fractions and ratio
- The concept of model drawing
- How to use different types of models to solve a variety of problems
Date: 12 March 2016
Time: 9am to 4pm (including 1-hour lunch break)
For more details on the upcoming workshops, visit here.
Have you attended parent workshops before? Share your views in the comments section below.