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Common Reasons Why Your Child May Struggle With Math in School – Reason 3
REASON 3: We ignore this style of learning at our peril
“I hear and I forget,
I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.” – Chinese proverb
There is a learning style that is absolutely essential for young children to learn effectively. Children demonstrate their love of this approach on a daily basis often accompanied by hair being pulled out by frustrated parents. Young children are “hands-on” learners. Nothing is usually too hot or too heavy. This tactile approach to life in general is their way of discovering and processing information about the world around them.
“Children are born real scientists. They experiment, experiment and re-experiment spontaneously. They select, combine and test, seeking to bring order to their experiments – ‘which is more important? what is the least? They smell, taste, bite and test hardness, softness, elasticity, roughness, smoothness, coldness, warmth by touch: they lift, shake, strike, press, push, crush, rub and try to separate things.” (R. Buckminster Fuller)
Play is how children use this particular learning style. Play is one of the most powerful ways to facilitate learning. When you play with your child, you show how much you appreciate them and enjoy their company. This helps build self-esteem and many studies now reveal that children with high emotional intelligence will outperform children with higher IQs but low self-esteem.
In the UK, questions are being asked about whether children have enough time to simply play. The pattern seems to be that children have more time to play during their early years in school, but by middle years a more formal approach dominates their school day. Professor Emeritus Barbara Prashnig argues that the trend in public education to focus on a more formal, left-brain oriented approach to learning may have dire implications for a significant percentage of children, especially boys, who tend to be primarily tactile learners.
These children often rebel against a system that has failed to meet their needs, and a small but significant minority can exert a disproportionate disruptive influence within schools before eventually disengaging completely from the formal learning process. This, argues Professor Prashnig, has serious implications for all of us.
Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama seems to provide compelling evidence to support this theory.
“Seventy-five percent of all men imprisoned in America have poor academic performance and low IQ,” Ramey pointed out. “Tracing their backgrounds reveals a familiar pattern: they start out as children from disadvantaged families who start school academically backward. They cannot read or do basic math because they are in poor systems, they receive little help. Growing frustration often turns into truancy, school failure, aggression and violence…”
(Ronald Kotulak quotes Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama in his book “Inside the Brain”)
Failure to hire these men at a young age has proven disastrous for them and the communities in which they live. But this is not a problem limited to the United States. In the Forbury district of Dunedin in New Zealand, Barbara Prashnig oversaw a radical experiment. The local school was on the verge of anarchy. In desperation, the local school authority turned to Professor Prashnig for help. His immediate response was to call for a complete personnel change. New staff would be trained to deliver the program in a variety of teaching styles tailored to the learner’s individual needs.
I had the privilege of spending a fortnight at the school watching Principal Janis Tofia and her staff successfully navigate the daunting challenges posed by a struggling school in an area where gang culture is a reality. If these methods can work in this situation, they can work anywhere.
Many teachers don’t seem to know how to harness the power of play to effectively get kids to understand math concepts. This is hardly surprising, as teachers strive to achieve externally imposed goals with little emphasis or guidance on how to implement game-based learning in the math classroom. . The textbook and the worksheet dominate the day. Until schools are given more freedom to adopt a more child-centred approach, children will continue to struggle with math and many will end up disengaging from learning altogether. Is this the fate your child might face? Specifically, are you willing to take that risk?
I believe the program I created can solve the problem of teaching math concepts through play. It provides a clear, step-by-step framework but also requires the commitment of a parent or teacher to guide, lead and set the challenges that will create a stimulating, stress-free yet highly stimulating learning environment.
Are you ready to make this commitment? If so, you may also be surprised to find, as I did, that learning math can be extremely rewarding on many levels.
I really hope you are interested enough to read my next article as we take a close look at the math model your child will need to play with every day.
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