Mommy diary: Of math, my daughter, and me

Posted on - in Motherhood

Upon coming home from work last night, I immediately checked my daughter’s homework notebook to check if she needed something done for tomorrow.

Reading her handwriting (which still needs some improvement), I learned that her class was going to have a quiz in Math today, about expanded notation.

(My kid’s in Kinder 2 and they’re studying about expanded notation? WHUT. Even my sister was surprised that they were having a quiz about it, much so that Kinder students have quizzes now.)

So I took her book out and we studied the examples written there. The weird thing is that I got stuck on how to explain how to do expanded notation. Between me and my daughter, it was I who got frustrated about it.

See, Math wasn’t my strongest suit when I was still a student. I mean, I didn’t flunk it, but my grade fluttered around 85 at best. Heck, even in college, Algebra and Business Math were the subjects that I got an average (if not below average) grade.

Good thing my sister, who’s a tutor and a guidance counselor in a Chinese school, was at home. Since she’s the genius of the house (and I’m not kidding, she’s always excelled in academics when we were still studying), I asked for her help in explaining expanded notation to my daughter.

Since everything was done in scratch paper, I didn’t get to take a pic of what she did, but I’ll explain it here:

For example, the equation was: 53 = ____ + 3. We had to know what the number in the blank was.

My sister did this Singaporean Math style, wherein she drew 5 rows of 10 squares and another row with 3. She made my daughter count and label all the boxes.

“53,” she said.

Then my sister pointed at the number 3 and said, “Let’s color 3 squares,” which they did, and she said, “So how many squares don’t have any color?”

My daughter said, “50!”

“Correct, so the number on the blank is…?


“Correct, 53 = 50 + 3.”

Heck, I didn’t know that’s how it’s done. My sister then told me that their method of teaching was using manipulatives and visuals so that kids can understand the concepts even at a young age.

Well, I think I, too, learned a lot from last night’s tutorial, especially with regards to teaching methods that I can use with my daughter when we review Math lessons. Last night made me realize that moms have to have some educational skills and tricks up their sleeves, too.

And I need to learn that, pronto. Good luck to me.

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