As a young student, Matthew Myers used a tactile-visual-verbal method to solve math problems: finger-counting. While this can be helpful for a time, basic math skills must become ‘automatic,’ so that the student can focus on more complex math skills and concepts. |
I still remember the evening nearly 30 years ago when I found out that our oldest son—who was finishing up a second grade math workbook—couldn’t add:
“Say, Matthew, what’s 7 + 4 ?”
“Uh, 7 + 4 ?” Matt replied. “Let’s see. . . 7, (and his fingers went under the table as he whispered slowly) 8, 9, 10, 11 . . . 11 !”
Each problem I asked went that way. He understood the concept, and could use a concrete procedure (counting fingers) to get the answer (most of the time!) after 7 or 8 laborious seconds.
Today, Matthew is a military engineering officer who uses math a lot in designing and constructing buildings, roads, bridges, and other projects. |
“Two years with workbooks haven’t given Matthew the level of skill he needs,” I thought. “He’ll really get bogged down in multi-digit multiplication and long division, where he’s got to use addition and subtraction routinely on his way to getting the answer. And if he learns to multiply and divide no better than he adds and subtracts, then fractions will be a disaster!”
This episode is what spurred me on to develop Learning Vitamins—quick, potent drills to bridge the gap between just ‘knowing about’ and doing well. In math and other key areas, just a few minutes a day with Learning Vitamins help build skills to that delightful point where your children take off and run with them!
Dr. Myers has written an article entitled Simple Steps to Superior Skills which gives some great strategies for making sure that your kids succeed. We think you’ll find it informative and encouraging! Click here to read the article.