Archive for the ‘Motivation in Math’ Category

We are well into the new school year by now. In my family, we have settled into a routine of driving to schools and then driving to sports after school. With three kids in three different schools and three different schedules, driving has been really hectic (no school bus system where we live). However, we believe it is important for our kids to have a balanced set of activities, that combines academics with sports and other things.

In my spare time, I have managed to squeeze in time to read a few really good books (mostly on planes when traveling for work). One that is worth sharing is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the author tries to share his observations of what he believes are the key elements that make people succeed. He highlights the importance of environment, talent, effort, and being at the right place at the right time. He points out that it may not be just coincidence that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Eric Smith (CEO of Google) were all born within a year of each other, signifying that the timing of the information technology revolution likely is a contributor to these super-successful innovators.

There are two things mentioned in this book that resonate strongly with me. The first is the 10,000 hours rule: He researched the experts in many fields, from computer programmers, to musicians, to mathematicians, and concludes that to truly become a master of something, one needs to not only have talent, but must also to put in about 10,000 hours to sufficiently master a subject, be it math or playing the violin.

The other is Gladwell’s observation as to why Asian children seem to be good at math. He points out two factors:

1) The Asian culture is such that parents and society believe that everyone can do math, and be good at elementary and high school-level math.

2) The Asian educational systems make students practice far more hours of math than what is expected in the U.S.. He believes that the cultural expectations (the environment) combined with the additional hours of practice drive the success of math education in China and other Asian countries.

Having grown up in China and gone through the Chinese education system, I cannot agree with him more. As far back as I can remember, adults around me, be it my parents, grandmother, or the neighbors’ children, who were just a few years older than me, would all ask me math problems as a daily routine and part of the daily play. When an entire community embraces math or education in this way, and in addition the schools assign significant homework assignments, it works: Children learn math extremely well. When a child in China was behind on his or her basic math skills, parents would find weekend tutors, or would tutor the kids at home themselves, to make sure their kids could keep up.

Will American culture evolve to the point where we will also expect all kids to be able to master basic math skills as do other cultures?

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Everybody uses math whether they realize it or not. Cooks use math to modify the amount of a recipe they will make. Shoppers use math to calculate change, tax, and sales prices. Vacationers use math to find time of arrivals and departures to plan their trips. Even homeowners use math to determine the cost of materials when doing projects. Every single day everyone encounters some type of math situation, either in personal finance, buying things in a store, trying to close a purchase contract, or interpreting some statistics in a news story.

GoldStudent offers a new feature that allows every user to do at least a math problem per a day.

Every day, GoldStudent will give you a new problem to solve.

If you miss a problem you can access that problem by clicking on the See all problems link from problem o of the day pop up or Problem of the day link from the footer.

After that, you will be redirected to the problem of the day history page. On this page you can select the date of the problem you missed and the problem of that day will be displayed.

Problem of the Day History

You can exercise your math skills every day.

Try the Problem of the Day on GoldStudent right now!

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As parents we all want our children to succeed.  We often feel that they have the ability to do well in everything, and that all they lack is a little motivation or energy.  As a result we tend to push our children to do better, to try harder and to do a better job.  This is true in all things, in all school activities and school subjects.  And of course it is also true in math.  Math pressure, the stress of math homework, the volume of math skills necessary to master a topic it can all be very stressful for children .

But how do you know when you are pushing too hard, or maybe when you should push harder?

There is of course no one answer.  All children are individuals, and all will respond in individual way to pressure and stress.  Math pressure and math homework stress is no different.  Most children will respond well to some pressure, but most will also start to show negative reactions if pushed too hard.

Here are some key signs that indicate when you may be pushing your child too hard and/or they’re under too much pressure:

  • Your child seems depressed and does not communicate well.
  • Things that used to interest your child no longer stimulate him or her.
  • Grades begin to fall, homework is not completed, and your child displays inattention to school activities.
  • Your child exhibits antisocial behavior, such as lying, stealing and/or physical violence
  • Feelings such as restlessness, tiredness, or agitation become frequent occurrences.
  • You child refuses to cooperate, do chores, or seems to need much more attention
  • Your child has physical symptoms such as complaining about headaches or stomach pains

If you feel your child is exhibiting one or more of these signs, certainly you should consider changing your methods.  Take a step back and talk to your child about how they are feeling and where the pressure points are coming from.

Another option is to get some outside help. Talk to a counselor about your child.  If your child needs help with schoolwork, see what additional services are available to provide assistance.

One option for to help alleviate math pressure is the GoldStudent math assistance program. If your child is suffering from math stress, GoldStudent can help. GoldStudent provides math help, builds confidence, and fosters a learning environment where every student succeeds.

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