## Tuesday, January 30, 2007

### A Little Whisper in the Ear!

One lesson that the great majority of our ten year olds seem to enjoy is when they are offered the puzzle of substitution. Naturally if a parent or teacher is working to a time limit in a lesson or session at home there is the temptation to simply explain how to do the exercise.

We would then present the children with a series of `rules of engagement’ where the child is told what to do. If we could make more time we could simply throw the example at the child and then try to guide him or her towards solving the puzzle of substitution.

We could also then mix in the whole question of BODMAS. Now everyone still remembers that with `BODMAS’ we need to do the `Brackets’ first. If we remember that it is easier to work out what the other letters mean.

To sum up we could use words like:

Substitution means replacing letters with numbers in an equation. The values that need to be substituted in are given, but remember that rules of BODMAS still apply: always multiply or divide before adding or subtracting.

E.g. Find 3p + 4p, if p = 8 and q = 2
3p + 4p = 3 x 8 + 4 x 2
= 24 + 8
= 32

So what is it that our eleven plus child needs? How do we find those extra twenty minutes to allow our `big brain’ to explore the problem and try to come up with a solution? We know that for years gifted teachers in schools have encouraged investigation and creative learning. We all know of children who have moved into a new class at school and have suddenly changed into being thoughtful and confident pupils.

So when you are working with your child at home don’t be too quick to `give’ the answer. Allow some time for your child to try to formulate rules and work out solutions. After all in the actual examination you won’t be there to pick up the pieces. Many questions will have two or even three parts.

You can just hope that in the examination your child will still hear your voice whispering words of encouragement and praise.

`Come on – we have done something like this before. Do you remember how we went about it?’

`You were very good at these when we did our last paper. Have you tried to change the numbers to simpler numbers?’

Chose between:

`You explained that type of sum to your mother. She was so impressed!’

`You explained that type of sum to your father. He was so impressed’

`You explained that type of sum to me. I was so impressed.’