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Updated: Sep 13

Introduction

Some say that mathematics is all about practice while others say it’s about properly understanding the concept behind the question. Both these statements are indeed true. Mathematics can be extremely challenging, if a child is unable to fully grasp the mathematical concept being taught.

What is Understanding?

Understanding math concepts, or anything in general, is more complicated than you think. According to Rick Garlikov in his essay, “What it means to ‘Understand’ something”, and I quote,

“If a person who understands a topic tells all he knows about it, wouldn’t knowing all these things then be the same thing as understanding the topic? On the other hand, even when students learn all these propositions and can recite them, they do not always understand the topic.”

Rick Garlikov is implying that there is a deeper understanding to “understand” a concept, and states in his essay that there is a finite set of propositions, that students should learn to understand a concept. And, memorising these propositions does not mean they understand.

This being said, there is a difference between reciting mathematical formulas or concepts and being able to understand the concept. Understanding the concept requires the student to learn all of the propositions; the concept itself and the other math concepts which are the basic fundamentals. It brings us to question ourselves, “does my child really understand the math concept?”

Therefore, as a parent, it is important you ensure that your child’s learning journey is on the right track. Basic fundamentals like addition or subtraction must not be taken lightly as such basic concepts in fact, can play a huge role in giving your child a deeper insight into a complicated math question as Rick Garlikov says, “even if a student fully understands a topic, he or she may have a lack of insight or a temporary confusion.”

Solution

Once your child is able to solve the math questions, always ask yourself, “does my child really understand the math concept?” It is good practice and there’s no harm in doing so, because, ultimately, your child will be the one benefiting. Give your child some time to try and understand the topic, and always test your child from time to time to make sure he or she does not forget what they have learnt. Get your child to explain their reasoning behind the steps they chose to take. When your child gets an answer right, it does not necessarily mean they understand what they have done. They could be simply regurgitating something they memorised from a previous question.

At Matrix Math® Learning Centre our teachers are trained to keep a look out for students who may fall into this category and help them understand the crucial concepts to further improve their knowledge of the syllabus.

Furthermore, do not always stick to the recommended books that schools tell you to purchase. Feel free to head down to the book store and purchase math assessment books for your child, and give your child a variety of questions to practice from. Your child may be unfamiliar with the new questions. Give your child some time to learn and this will definitely improve their foundation which leads to confidence when doing a more complicated question during the math exams.

References:

http://www.garlikov.com/teaching/uu.htm

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