If you have visited this blog for a while, you may have noticed my continuous quest in helping children deepen their understanding in math. I share here what I do as a parent with my own children, hoping that it could help other parents as well. At home, I use games, math discussions, explorations of word problems, etc. But I also try to identifying any misconceptions they may have in their learning.

Example.

My son Tom, 5, has learned how to count by Fives and Tens, while playing hide-and-seek with older kids.

– “Ten, Twenty, Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty, Ninety, One hundred ! Ready or not, here I come !”.

I was quite surprised, initially, to hear him count by Ones, Fives, and Tens, as it is not a concept often mastered at a young age. So one day, as he was playing with his cars, I asked him if he could count them.

– “Sure !”, he said, pointing one car at a time, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten !”.

– “Could you count them by five?”, I asked

– “Sure !”, and pointing one car at a time as he did while counting by Ones, he counted : “Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty !”.

– “Could you count them by Tens ?”, I asked

– “Sure ! Ten, Twenty, Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty, Ninety, One hundred !”, pointing again one car at a time.

He could root count by Ones, by Fives, by Tens up to a hundred and more. But he did not understand that counting by Fives means counting *by groups of five,* counting by Tens means counting *by groups of tens*. For him, it was just three independent ways of counting. You have ten cars when you count by Ones, fifty when you count by Fives, a hundred when you count by Tens. But since you “*usually* count by Ones”, you have ten cars. Seems logical in Tom’s world.

With Tom, 5, a discussion is usually the best way to assess his understanding, with a “tell me about what you are doing”, or “what does it mean to …”. With Rosie, 8, I like to use pretend-playing : she is the teacher, I am the child. I do not do it often during the school year, but Summer break is a fun time to do so. And since Summer break starts tomorrow… you should hear more about it pretty soon.

Stay tuned !