difficult child may need to pay more attention in math

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Andy, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I grew up baking. I think that is why I do well in math. You use fractions all the time in baking. I was following recipe directions since I could read. I hope my difficult child's interest in baking will enforce some basic math concepts.

    He is making butter horns (he calls them "croissants") tonight. He will make the dough in the bread maker and then form the shapes before baking. He invited the neighbor girl over to help. I asked if she was going to help put the ingredients together to make the dough or if she would be helping forming the shapes. He said, "both".

    difficult child just came to me and asked, "Mom, how else besides 12 Tlb of flour can I make 3/4 Cups?" I am not good at converting tablespoons to cups but that doesn't sound quiet right? "You can do 3 - 1/4 cups." "Will that work?" (surprised look on difficult child's face). I think he needs more time with basic fractions. Shucks, the only way I can think of to help is to have him make caramel rolls! What a shame- poor me!
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Cooking is a great way to teach maths. If you have enough cups, put them side by side. Do you have kitchen scales that self-tare? You can tare the scales after adding each quarter cup, so he can see that the quarter cups each weigh the same. Then you weigh it all again, together, and he should see that the three-quarters cup of flour weighs three times as much as a quarter cup.

    Did you ever study child psychology? I had to do it as part of my teacher training (eons ago) and remember the Piaget assessments of conservation of mass, conservation of volume etc. These are stages children are supposed to go through at certain ages, and by 12 he should be well into the formal operations stage, where conservation of mass and volume have been long-established in his mind. But it sounds to me like he hasn't consolidated this yet. So maybe helping him visualise it through cooking lessons, taking a bit longer to actually demonstrate it for him, could help.

    Another trick is to take an orange or an apple and cut it into fractions. For more advanced maths (algebra) do one of each. You cut them into halves and quarters and put them in front of him, then play around with them, removing a piece or putting back a piece and asking him how much of the orange he has in front of him. For algenbra, you have to demi==onstrate that half an apple does not equal half an orange, because it is something different. But it is OK to say, "I have half an apple and half an orange" and not to then take it further and say, "I have a whole piece of fruit," because you haven't got a whole piece; you have four pieces (each a quarter) but the best you could do is make half an orange and half an apple. Two halves don't always make a whole, when each half is of something different. But that's algebra, he migtn't be ready for this.

    And of course, you can enjoy eating the fruit as you go, to make a game out of it.

    Another way to do it is to take a recipe for two people and double it to make it for four people. However, you don't double the cooking time!

  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I just looked it up - 12 Tlb does equal 3/4 cup.

    I truly believe difficult child lost a lot of foundation last year. Even though his grades were very good, he really was not "in" school so to speak for at least the first 2 months which basically reviews the foundations and he then struggled to catch up the rest of the year. He had decided to take his frustrations out on it being the teacher's fault he wasn't learning instead of trying to figure out the materials. This year he likes the teacher (same person as last year) and is keeping up.

    Unfortunately, we do not have scales. Next time we visit the Science Museum maybe we will find one? Hopefully a hands-on one to work with.

    difficult child I believe is starting to listen to me when I tell him that he has to work through a problem - not jump to an answer. He wants to do everything in the shortest path possible. He hasn't learned that a strong knowledge of the basics will make most long paths quicker. If it only takes 1/2 a second to know that 8 + 4 = 12, the process will go quicker and it is actually fun to have it end at the right answer. On his last math assignment which I taught him how to work through the problem by making sure all bottom halves of the fractions were the same, finding the answer, and then putting it back into simplest form, he received extra credit for doing a great job. And, I didn't do any of it for him, just showed him how on a few problems - I told him the step and he did the work of that step. He then finished the page on his own with only once asking for clarification on a step. I am hoping this attentention from the teacher will inspire him to listen to me more when I make him work the entire process instead of trying to find shortcuts which will not work in every situation.

    Marg, you are right, he is not were he should be in math. How can someone know that 12 Tlb = 3/4 Cup but not know that 3 -1/4 Cups is also 3/4 cups? He needs more practice with the basics. Atleast his lack of fraction skills is not discouraging him from baking.
  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If you are worried about those caramel rolls feel free to send them here:)
    As for fractions I just gave a test and, let's just say with this group, I'll be doing some reteaching!
  5. Janna

    Janna New Member

    My son is same age as yours and doesn't know fractions at all. Don't feel too bad.

    I'll share those rolls with Wiped Out, though :)