*Or how to lay a background
with numbers that will make learning math facts easier for children*

**What about the second grader
who can’t do his math homework?**

This morning I took a call
from a parent of a second grader who is having a really tough time with keeping
up with math in his classroom. Over time, he has learned to count to 20 and can
also count by fives and tens, but at this point he grinds to a halt. I will
call Mom, Angela. Angela has devoted herself to advocating for him with his
school; she also spends time before and after school with her son not only
working on homework with him, but on beginning to lay a foundation for him that
over time will help him recoup his ability to do math successfully.

Angela said she’d gotten her
hands on our Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction book and was working
through Chapter 4. Her primary angst, and what prompted her phone call,
revolves around the fact that she is (wisely) going back to the beginning to
lay missing groundwork at the same time she is fielding input from school and helping
with homework that her child is not able to successfully complete at this
point. This is a difficult position to be in – starting
over at the same time you are keeping going!

**There is hope!**

For those of you who have a
child who is in this situation, let me hasten to say that there is hope! There
are some things you can do to help! For those of you who have young children,
before it comes to a struggle, do some cool, fun things to help your child lay
a good visual background for numbers and computation! And in this blog post
hopefully you will find a bit of clarity on how to do that.

**Using Right-Brained Addition
& Subtraction**

Because teaching math from a right-brained
perspective is vastly different from traditional ways of teaching, the first
section of this book is devoted to helping the parent or teacher understand the
important elements utilized in teaching visual or right-brained learners. What
the tools are and why they work.

**Chapter 1** talks about looking at the child first. It
compares traditional approaches to teaching math with various learning styles,
discusses teaching math to various ages and stages of learners and what you can
expect as the teacher. Traditional and non-traditional learners are contrasted
and finally general teaching guidelines are detailed.

**Chapter 2** details several elements that make for good
teaching practice, opening with the rationale behind each one and followed by
instructions for implementing each element.

**Chapter 3** touches lightly but succinctly on how to use
assessments in helpful ways to both teacher and child.

**Part II** is comprised of the method, and I can’t wait
to get to that!

In **Chapter 4** we learn numbers. This includes recognizing their
symbols, counting to 20, ordering numbers in the right sequence to 20,
supplying missing numbers, finding patterns in an array of numbers, and finally
writing the numbers to 10 correctly. This chapter is necessary background.

**Chapter 5** gets us into the good stuff. We need to **lay a visual background** for HOW MANY
each number is. So we will **utilize some
visual tools** to make this happen and those tools and their usage will
manifest as games we play.

It is at this most
interesting stage in the process of laying a solid foundation for working with
numbers that the adults tend to become impatient with the process. After all,
images are not going to make adding and subtracting happen, right? It feels in
our hurry like we are wasting time. I most certainly did not have time to do
this sort of thing when I was a classroom teacher! We had to rush to get
through the book and its contents in the amount of time we were allotted for
math. So we went right to computation and children learned to count on their
fingers to get by. Results were marginal.

**How to lay a visual background for computation**** **

I think we’d all agree that
our ability to remember images is much stronger than anything we memorize. “A
picture is worth a thousand words,” right? That saying is still true! If
children are introduced to numbers first not only with their symbol but with
dot patterns that show the how many of each number, they will be ahead of the
game already.

**See these examples:**

Here is a dot card showing how many 1 is. Good
so far, right?

Here is 2. You could make another card with the
two dots in a different position as desired.

Here is 3. Notice that in these two cards, the
arrangements of the dots are hinting at future computation. The second card
shows a picture of what 1+2=3 looks like. But at this point we are not teaching
computation; we are simply laying a visual collection of images for computation
from which the child will draw later.

In the 4’s dot cards you can see 4, 1+3=4, and
then 2+2=4. While at this stage your main teaching point is that no matter how
you arrange the dots, each time this many dots equals 4.

Here is 5; showing 1+4=5 and 2+3=5.

And one more example en route to 10. Here is 6
in its various arrangements.

Progress through Chapter 5
laying more and more visual background first for the how many of each number,
but then for how that number relates to 10. For example, if you have a dot card
for 7, how many more to 10?

We have super hefty playing cards made for you
that are double laminated for durability. These are great because not only are
the cards in color, but each number bears its own color. Color-coding is really
helpful for some children!

**Chapter 6** begins the transition from visual to symbolic,
show the meaning of computation, and provides a brain and body connection for
computation. All this is multisensory learning at its finest – something
helpful for every child, but most especially children who don’t thrive with
regular approaches to math.

This chapter utilizes several
right-brained elements to prepare the child for the process of internalizing
the facts to 10 – both adding and subtracting. It uses story, the child’s own
hands, laying these elements on top of the visualization already done in the previous
chapter.

**Chapter 7** is the chapter you will park on once you feel
your child has laid excellent groundwork for computation in Chapters 4-6. In
this chapter you will create a real world context for computation which will
lend relevance and answer the question ahead of time “Why do I need to learn
this?”

The combination of
right-brained strategies employed will not only help your child love math, but
will make learning fun. My own experience in teaching math using this approach
was that children emerged with a level of fluency with computation that was
unusual. There was no counting on fingers,
no tears, no sighing and whining! Children did come ask for more math practice,
and they always knew exactly where they needed to practice towards mastery!
Let’s come together and help our children* love learning*!