As part of Pathlight School's school-parents partnership model, we try to empower parents. In my role, it is to empower them to help their kids with the academics.

This year, I focus on (surprisingly) mathematics.

We discussed how to learn calculations at a level beyond the procedural in the April seminar.

In May, we looked at word problems.

Spiky, Curly and Smiley had the same amount of coins. Curly and Smiley each had a mix of two types of coins, 50-cent coins and 10-cent coins. Curly had nine 10-cent coins and Smiley had fifteen 10-cent coins. Spiky had only 50-cent coins.

(a) Of the three children, who had the most money and who had the least?

(b) What is the difference in the total value of Curly and Smiley's coins?

(c) Smiley used all his 50-cent coins to buy some food. He then had $10 less than Spiky. how many coins did Spiky have?

We did this problem to understand the role of qualitative thinking in mathematical problem solving. The hard part in problem solving is usually the qualitative thinking, rarely the quantitative computation which can be done by a calculator anyway.

For those who did not attend ðŸ˜¤ (detention class, no, joking), please solve this problem before I continue...

After a hard day's work a group of parents were made to solve this problem, which is a version of a recent year's Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) task.

Sorry ðŸ˜¬

We hope the food compensate for the hard thinking some of us had to go through at eight at night.

I shared a few routines parents can teach their children.

Read. Draw? Calculate?

Do not encourage kids to reach the entire paragraph, unless he is a gifted reader.

Who is is in the story? What is it all about?

These are easy entry points to a challenging problem and gives kids confidence.

Read the first sentence.

Is it easy to understand?

Can I already calculate?

Can I draw (a model)?

Then move to the next.

This read-and-do routine helps kids to manage information and not be overwhelmed by the complexity of the story.

Can you imagine the story?

All the three are holding a bowl of coins, all the same number. Suppose all are fifty-cent coins.

Imagine Curly giving up one 50-cent coin and receive one 10-cent coin. What happens to her amount of money? By how much?

Is that right ... Curly had nine 10-cent coins. I imagine her giving up 9 fifty-cent coins in return for the 9 ten-cent coins. How much less money does she has than Spiky?

I share are techniques in scaffolding. I discourage parents explaining solutions to their kids | Scaffold and Model, Not Explain

To be continued ....