#1 Using the wrong symbols
When learning Maths in Primary School, children are shown different symbols that signify different mathematical functions. Some of these symbols can look similar and cause a child to be confused.
Tip – Go through the different symbols with your child, ensuring that he or she is able to recognise each one before moving to the next symbol.
Minimise the use of wrong symbols by making sure your child writes all lines of working; trying to skip a step because of laziness or convenience can result in lost marks.
#2 Writing Fractions
Fractions can be confusing for a child. Children can be intimidated by several numbers being put together in a single unit and not understand why 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2. Fractions also contain many mathematical terms – a numerator and denominator indicates how many of parts make up a unit or a whole. This sentence alone can be difficult for a child to understand.
Tip – Help by presenting fractions to your child in a fun way. Use images and descriptions that are common to them such as pizza slices to show that 2/4 is “2 out of 4 pieces”, 1/2 is “1 out of 2 pieces”.
#3 Adding multiple numbers
Applying mathematical functions to more than 2 numbers can get tricky for some students and can be a reason for lost marks. When students add numbers such as 12, 22 and 8, some may incorrectly place 8 in the tens place which results in a wrong answer.
Tip – Get your child to practice applying small numbers to the mathematical function, be it addition, subtraction, or multiplication. Ensure that they understand the concepts needed for a variety of numbers. Use daily objects such as coins as a visual to help them grasp the concept.
#4 Multiplication Errors with Two-Digit Numbers
Multiplication itself is a difficult topic to begin with for a lower primary student. Your child may hardly have trouble with single-digit multiplications after getting used to the multiplication tables. However, when tackling multiple digits, he or she may find it hard when applying the numbers in the tens and ones place, or dealing with zeros and such.
Tip – When practising or correcting the mistakes with your child, remember that there are many steps involved in a single multiple-digit working. Go through each step with him or her carefully and stop when you notice where the error was made. With repeated practice, your child will be more comfortable handling these questions and reduce errors made.
#5 Using mathematical tools
Students have to learn how to use a number of tools such as rulers, protractors, compasses. Look into their stationery box and you can easily understand how your child may be overwhelmed by the various tools they need to learn to use. A basic example can be your child measuring a line with a ruler from 1 instead of 0.
Tip – Keep an eye on your child when they are just starting to learn the use of a mathematical tool. If he or she seems to be struggling, ask if you can demonstrate the proper way to use the instrument to solve the question. As with any other tool, practice will help your little ones answer questions that need a mathematical tool with ease!
Here are some other possible reasons why your child is making common mistakes:
Your child may have scored badly for a topical assessment and is afraid of tackling similar questions. Children at a young age may not be able to handle disappointment and pressure, and do not know how to overcome the mental hurdle.
Go through the question with your child carefully and be sure that he or she is now able to tackle certain difficult topics.
Difficulty with problem solving/complex questions
Some questions may be lengthy and contain multiple sentences. These questions require the student to understand each sentence clearly, not understanding one line may result in a wrong approach or solution.
Explain each sentence clearly and use visual diagrams to represent the information given. By tackling the question one step at a time, your child can easily identify what is being asked and the right formula to solve the problem sum.
Parents can also provide a simpler, yet similar question that requires the same approach. This helps your child identify a method or pattern of answering question types.
Find out more about Mind Stretcher’s unique teaching strategy – MS Power CodesTM – in our P1 to P6 Mathematics lessons!