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I want to help my kid excel in Math. I can see she has some trouble with additions,subtraction, multiplication and division.

Will it help if I let her memorize the multiplication table? or use figures/pictures when presenting math problems?

What is your preferred way?

Thanks!

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At least in some point knowing by heart the multiplication table up till $9\times 9$ is a must know IMO –  Belgi Sep 28 '12 at 3:14
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This is very popular and once learned, can be a guide for a very long time across many fields: khanacademy.org/math/arithmetic –  Amzoti Sep 28 '12 at 3:37
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In my humble opinion, the best way to help your kid learn about math (or in fact about anything) is to help her get interested in it. That tends to involve less memorizing and more understanding why things are relevant. –  joriki Sep 28 '12 at 3:39
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Don’t push. If she has an interest, encourage it, but don’t push. If she asks for help, or even is simply willing to accept it when it seems to be needed, by all means offer it, and learn by experience what kinds of help are most effective for her, but don’t push. If she likes to read, you might give her Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s The Number Devil. –  Brian M. Scott Sep 28 '12 at 4:26
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@Graphth: There’s a difference between helping a kid with the basics and setting reasonable expectations in respect of schoolwork on the one hand, and pushing a kid to excel in a subject on the other. Moreover, every kid’s different, so you always end up feeling your way, and you can err in either direction. That comment was based on my impression that the OP was more likely to err in the direction of pushing too hard than in the opposite direction. –  Brian M. Scott Oct 6 '12 at 17:22

3 Answers 3

There are different types of learners (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.), so you will have to recognize what your daughter's strengths are in learning in general. As a sort of go-to strategy for all students, I would recommend using small tiles as a way for her to act out the basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) at the level of countable units. You can use these to teach more complicated notions as well, such as summations, sequences, and more.

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The first sentence is false. See: sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091216162356.htm . The sooner we get this myth out of the public consciousness, the better. –  Potato Oct 6 '12 at 17:39

In his book, "Why Don't Students Like School", Daniel T. Willilngham details some of the recent cognitive research on learning. One of the most important results of this research in terms of teaching math to young students (third grade and below, I would say), is that new, synthesized knowledge in human brains is created from basic, memorized facts. This kind of research leads many (including myself) to the conclusion that students should memorize their times tables as soon as they are ready to. One of the reasons I'm a "math person" today is that my third grade teacher drilled us in our times tables, making it a kind of game where we tried to answer a sheet of one-digit multiplcation questions as quickly as possible. This made it much easier for us to do simple division, long division, and reduce fractions, all of which are essential starting in second and third grade.

You might also check out "Secrets of Mental Math" by Arthur Benjanmin. I've discovered that learning tricks to make mental math easier is something kids really enjoy and of course it gives them a lot more power and comfort when learning more advanced topics.

Finally, you can do no better than to get her a talented and experienced tutor, if you can afford it.

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Do you think that teaching memorization of times tables is "the most effective way of teaching mathematics to a 7 year old kid"? –  Bill Dubuque Oct 6 '12 at 16:23
    
Of the many students I work with who are behind in math in high school, they all share two things in common: 1) They do not believe that they are "math people", and they think they can never be good at math, and 2) They do not have their times tables memorized. The most effective way of teaching anything is not something that can be summarized in text on a web site, it is the product of years of study and experience. The best advice I can give to someone who doesn't have time to learn to be an amazing math teacher is to make sure your child learns their times tables. –  Todd Wilcox Oct 6 '12 at 21:41
    
Also, Bill, with all the respect in the world, is there some reason why you commented skeptically on my answer recommending hard work on important basic facts, while not commenting on other answers that are little more than links to web sites? –  Todd Wilcox Oct 6 '12 at 21:46
    
Perhaps such students have been misguided by poor teachers into believing that $\,(2)\Rightarrow(1),\,$ which could not be further from the truth of the matter. In fact many mathematicians are horrible at arithmetic. Mathematical success has very little to do with arithmetical proficiency. –  Bill Dubuque Oct 6 '12 at 22:42
    
My guess is that mathematicians who are horrible at arithmetic (and I was one of those for many years) are that way because they are able to excel in math classes despite not having a solid foundation in arithmetic. We might consider these people (or "us") as "natural mathematicians", although I don't intend by that term to imply any source for their situation (genetics or early development or whatever). Those students who aren't "naturals" (like seemingly the young lady in question), do benefit greatly from mastery of arithmetic, both in confidence and in learning beyond the basics. –  Todd Wilcox Oct 7 '12 at 0:50

Get the book Kitchen Table Math. Not only does it go through all of the things a student needs to learn, but it goes through in a good order of teaching it, and it tells you how to teach it, and it emphasizes making it fun.

If a student has interest in a subject, it will be much easier for them to learn it. How can you make math interesting? With my little ones, we do math with M&Ms, things like that. And, I buy Spectrum math workbooks that she likes to do for fun.

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