Patterns in math
        Patterns are all around us. Bricks in a walk, stripes or plaid in clothing, and trees planted in orchards are examples of the way people have placed patterns into their environments.

        Patterns are the basis of mathmatics. Childrenís ability to identify, duplicate and create patterns outside of math underlies the comprehension of numeric patterns. These activities lead to greater comfort with and understanding of math.

        The approach to teaching math has changed significantly in the last ten years. First-graders used to have early exposure to the math problems that their parents recognized: pages of exercises with kids adding 2 + 4 and the like. Unfortunately -- and I remember this well -- the kids didnít understand what they were doing. How could they be expected to add 7 and 5  if they couldnít grasp what these numbers meant?

        In todayís kindergarten and first grade classrooms, teachers spend a significant amount of time working with children to recognize and create patterns. With this as a foundation, by the time they get to the traditional addition and subtraction problems, the kids know what they are doing!

         When your child counts to 100, help her to recognize the patterns: how the sequence of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 repeats itself in the ones place as well as in the tens place. Also notice the different sequences that show up when counting by 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50. 

         For most children, this is an auditory process. A chart of the numbers from 1 to 100 is a good tool for children who are visual learners. For kids learning multiplication, an old-fashioned chart, with the multipliers across the top and down one side and the products in the middle gives a depiction of patterns.

         Asking your child to explain what she sees is a good way to help with the understanding of the patterns. As with so many aspects of learning, if we can express our understanding to another person, it helps us to understand it ourselves.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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