Summer as we know is the best time to let our kids “try out” new hobbies, sports and skills. When school is out the kids have more time to explore, and the parents need to keep ’em productive. Sometimes (as some of us parents have noticed), summer actually becomes busier than the regular school year because of all the shuttling back and forth from one activity to the next.
I do find myself in the thick of this with the girls’ schedules, particularly now that Jamie is of age to take on more things. She’s dropped her afternoon nap (Gasp! so early I know! But such is life), and has participated in choosing the activities she wanted to do this season I allowed ballet as it was her first request to dance ballet “like ate“, but I was also in search for something that would enhance her mental development, like reading and learning numbers, something I noticed she would avoid with me.
When I was a new mom of two, I tried the techniques I used for Sam to learn from me, on Jamie. It was a little frustrating the second time around because my “proven formula” really didn’t work. And to think it was frustrating trying to put some logic into things the first time around!
But I know now (and I didn’t know it then), that it really wouldn’t have worked to begin with. I learned recently from one of our #BetterMe sessions (posts coming soon I promise!) that you really can’t be the same parent to each child, since they are very different to begin with. And as many psychology majors have told me, same gender siblings will tend to be opposite from one another, if only by sheer birth order and personal tendencies. It’s just their way of making their mark in the world and expressing their difference.
This was further confirmed when we got Jamie’s MindPrint scans a few months ago. When I put our family’s results side by side, I clearly understood why Jamie wasn’t responding to my methods. She’s a visual learner more than an auditory one or a tactile one, and she uses her emotions over her logic first. I on the other hand tend to be more logical first and like Sam, we like to follow patterns. Take for instance — a book. When reading it I naturally point to the words. While Sam would follow my finger and absorb what the word looked like and sounded, Jamie was looking at the pictures and memorizing the context of it all. So the next time I showed Sam the word, she could tell me what it was. Jamie would tell me the phrase she associated with the picture.
I could also see this when we would do logical things (or what I considered precursors to Math) like connect-the-dots activities and learning her numbers. Jamie preferred a visual style of learning; colorful and varied. She’d lose interest in the typical black and white worksheets. And I could see it from the way she problem-solved and the things she took interest in. I needed a new approach and a new tool to help her learn.
Then by some stroke of luck, coincidence and destiny, Ina Sehwani, one of the founding partners of a program called Mathemagis, called the office. She stumbled upon our website and wanted to inquire on our services. When we met and talked about Mathemagis, I took interest. She encouraged me to send the girls and give it a try.
Mathemagis is an after-school enrichment program based on Singapore’s math curriculum and methodology. I’ve heard and seen charts that the Singapore methods are one of the best in the world these days. In fact, a lot of the schools have adopted Singapore Math in their curriculum.
To be honest, I really didn’t know how different it was from the way I learned Math until Ina actually showed me. She said that at Mathemagis, they focused more on the WHY first rather than the HOW, which is what we’re usually taught to do. In fact now that I think about my own experience with Math(s) growing up, it used to be a lot of drills, practice and memorization, without really focusing on the understanding behind it all. You just needed to do it — addition, multiplication, division, fractions… and once you got the pattern or the lesson, then you’d survive and get to the next level. Actually, problem solving was always my Waterloo.
Ina says that at the center of the Mathemagis curriculum is Problem-Solving. They teach kids about the concept, and show them the different approaches to get there.
Say for instance, an equation. On one side there’s the number 10. What would you put on the other side to balance it out? There are a range of answers from adding several numbers, to multiplying several numbers, and so on and so forth. Ina had me put it in words. “Two fives will give you 10.” “10 is three more than seven.” And so on. As a child moves up in the levels, then the concepts are reinforced but are also more complicated (ie the introduction of fractions for example).
Ina mentioned that they like to use a lot of visual tools to illustrate new concepts and ideas (PERFECT for Jamie!). There are so many different ways for her to learn the same concept so she can completely grasp it and master it before moving on to the next. It’s like she learns while she plays, which is the same reason why we chose Jamie’s school in the first place. It works for her, and Mathemagis is a good complement to what and how she learns in school.
It’s also not too taxing on Jamie. We had the option for her to do twice a week, with 30 minutes each session. And as the teachers noticed that Jamie gets self-conscious when there are a lot of other kids at the center, they’ve moved her to her own private nook where she doesn’t notice that anyone is watching her.
Jamie always leaves the Mathemagis center pleased with herself and she says she had fun. That’s exactly what Ina said was their main advocacy and goal — they wanted to make learning Math(s) fun. Such a different perspective from the way we used to see it which was a necessary chore, right?
The other nice part about the Mathemagis program is that after every session, they ask the child to reflect on what they learned that day. It’s a good way to keep them self-aware and to understand what else they need to learn before moving forward.
I’ve actually found it easier to reinforce the lessons at home (with a slight adjustment of my style — I am after all a creature of habit), and have discovered as well that the Mathemagis method is a good compliment to the traditional way of learning math.
It’s a good precursor to whatever Math Jamie has to learn in the bigger schools later on; otherwise I fear we’d be that parent-child tandem who would fight over homework that just needs to get done. And with Jamie, what’s important is that she’s confident about her skill. Otherwise she won’t even try (my – sounds like her father perhaps? ;)).
Mathemagis currently has five branches around Metro Manila. Visit their Facebook page to learn more and get a free assessment for your child.