Parenting & Family

improving problem skills

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  • May 21st, 2020 10:11 am
[OP]
Sr. Member
Nov 25, 2008
700 posts
31 upvotes
edmonton

improving problem skills

HI my kid is 9 years old. Is there any recommendation in term of improving problem solving skills?

We find my kid always know only one way to solve problems , never really use brain to think other or better ways to solve problem.

TC
9 replies
Deal Guru
Aug 26, 2002
13758 posts
5370 upvotes
Toronto, ON
love0715 wrote: HI my kid is 9 years old. Is there any recommendation in term of improving problem solving skills?

We find my kid always know only one way to solve problems , never really use brain to think other or better ways to solve problem.

TC
Are you talking about math problems?
Sr. Member
Mar 6, 2015
821 posts
60 upvotes
Do you mean expert or experienced advice? There are results online after googling, such as this.
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Nov 25, 2008
700 posts
31 upvotes
edmonton
like real life math problem. Not just pure math 1+1= ? but i want to add up a few numbers together, but has to be in certain order, and certain conditions.
Deal Addict
Mar 24, 2015
1058 posts
431 upvotes
Ottawa, ON
I get my son to bake with me and divide/multiply ingredient amount. He had a bit of trouble with fractions so I got him to use the measuring cups, etc, and asked him questions along the way. For example if the recipe is calling for 1 cup, I tell him I only have 1/4 cups. That's one example where we use daily stuff to teach him. Another example is I tell him he can only play 5hrs of Roblox per week, he has to come up with a schedule for the week but each day cannot be the same amount of time. Things like that...
Deal Guru
Aug 26, 2002
13758 posts
5370 upvotes
Toronto, ON
love0715 wrote: like real life math problem. Not just pure math 1+1= ? but i want to add up a few numbers together, but has to be in certain order, and certain conditions.
I have my sons (ages 10 and 8) in an after-school program called Spirit of Math, in which they are taught to tackle math in problem-solving ways, not just pure arithmetic. The problem you just described (adding up numbers by grouping them in easier, more manageable ways) is one of the core lessons at SoM (called Relocation Properties). I just searched their website and it doesn't look like they have any campuses in Edmonton unfortunately. Maybe you can contact them and ask if they have any plans to open up a campus in Edmonton.

https://www.spiritofmath.com/
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12140 posts
6695 upvotes
Brampton
Incorporate math and problem solving in to his everyday routine.

Establish the routine. Then on purpose do not have everything set up for them.

Eg. Making pancakes. Have them make it a couple times. Then "Forget" 1 or all of the eggs on purpose. Rotate the forgetfulness.

This is more for General problem solving, Problem solving goes hand in hand with teaching them independence.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
3366 posts
1173 upvotes
Woodbridge
https://www.cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw.php - look at the Grade 3/4 problems. Tons of archived problems and solutions as well.

https://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/cemc-at-home.php grade 4/5/6 tasks can be done at home, some are easier than others

https://www.youcubed.org/tasks/ - a variety of tasks that develop mathematical thinking

Problem-solving is all about pattern recognition and developing a habit of looking for and talking about math in contexts that don't seem "mathy." People often conflate math with computation, and math is so much more than applying algorithms to find answers. In fact, in my experience, most kids that consider themselves to be "good at math" are simply really good at remembering and applying algorithms. They become used to math being all about one answer and one most-efficient route to getting there. When faced with problems that have multiple possible solutions or that don't have a clear starting point, they get stuck. These three links are a good place to start developing mathematical thinking.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 5, 2006
9211 posts
4503 upvotes
Markham
love0715 wrote: HI my kid is 9 years old. Is there any recommendation in term of improving problem solving skills?

We find my kid always know only one way to solve problems , never really use brain to think other or better ways to solve problem.

TC
My son is in spirit of math and in terms of problem solving, I feel he uses one way as well

I think its just he is still kid and hasn't experience more

I feel the best way is throw kids to the real world and let them solve the problem together like go to a park and say invent a game so we can play together and you can only use things you can find in the park
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
3366 posts
1173 upvotes
Woodbridge
smartie wrote: My son is in spirit of math and in terms of problem solving, I feel he uses one way as well

I think its just he is still kid and hasn't experience more

I feel the best way is throw kids to the real world and let them solve the problem together like go to a park and say invent a game so we can play together and you can only use things you can find in the park
Yes! This is the best way to do it. They need to build connections in their brain.

The grocery store is a great opportunity to develop an understanding of proportional reasoning. Go to Walmart and look at the Cheerios. You can get a 1kg box for $7.97 or a 570g box for $5.47 or a 350g box for $4 or a multi-buy 2x350g for $6... what do you do? Even if a child isn't old enough to be able to actually do the math involved to find that, for example, the 570g box has a cost of $5.47/5.7 per 100g, they can certainly understand that it's difficult to compare without having a single unit of measure for all of them. They can think about and brainstorm what that might be. Cost per gram? Cost per 100 grams? How many grams you can get for $1? Is one better than another? Why? Is one easier to calculate than another? Why? This can be done from home using prices online. Put a plan in place before going shopping. You can take it one step further too. Yes, the 1kg box is the cheapest for a given quantity, but have them weigh out a single serving of cereal to see how much they eat per day, per week etc. How many servings are in that 1kg box? How long will it take them to eat it all? Will the cereal be stale by the time they finish it? If that's the case, even though the bulk purchase is cheaper proportionally, in reality, a smaller amount might be better so that none of it goes to waste.

You can include some lessons on personal finance in this too. If your family price matches, look over the receipt with your child(ren) and calculate the total savings. Think about how much time it took to price match. Maybe 3 extra minutes at the register and 10-15 minutes looking through Flipp? What's the equivalent hourly wage for that time? Is it worth it? What if those savings from each week are added together? What are the annual savings just from price matching? What if, every dollar saved price matching, were invested at a certain annual return for a certain time? How much would that portfolio be worth? Let's say your child is 12 and your family saves $30 per week price matching. With a $100 initial investment, adding $30 per week, at a 5% annual return, by the time your child is 30, they'd have over $45,000 in that account. That's their own kid's tuition, just from price match savings.

This is the type of stuff that we should be teaching and the types of opportunities kids should be having. Unfortunately, changes to a curriculum take time, are often reactionary, and by the time they take effect, the thing they're reacting to has already changed. But you can do this at home. People honestly have no idea how valuable these types of conversations and experiences are to developing mathematical understanding and thinking. It introduces children to concrete problems that can be solved using abstract algorithms. It provides a need for the algorithm and a context in which to actually learn the algorithm, not just temporarily remember it for a test. You can incentivize this as well if they're a bit older. Give them the receipt from the last grocery trip and see if they can save you money, either by purchasing a larger quantity at a lower proportional cost or by purchasing a smaller quantity at a lower cost and with less waste. Let them do the price matching or see if they can find even better deals. Let them keep some of the money they save.

These are just two specific examples, but the opportunities for this are endless. Math is not computation. You don't need a clearly defined set of steps with a singular "right" answer to be doing math, and the fact that many people, in my experience, equate that to math, is really holding us back IMHO.

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