Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mastering multiplication

With Luqman n Hajar, I have always taken for granted that they know their multiplication table by themselves. Though it took them quite a while, it never bothers me coz I always felt they will catch up eventually. With Emily, it's such a pain. To be honest, teaching a dyslexic the concept of multiplication, and how to do multiplication can really get u on your nerves if u r not that knowledgeable about their issues. I used to scour the internet for tips to memorize the 12 times table, and get very excited when I found one that seems so easy, and then get so depressed and frustrated when Emily cannot get it. This is what I have learned from Emily on teaching a dyslexic multiplication. (Caution; this might differ individually)

1. They forget. Even if they understand today, or now, they can easily forget tomorrow.....or for Emily, it can be in the next 10 or 15 minutes.

2. What works for some dyslexics might not work for the other. Don't despair. Keep trying.

3. Rote memorization & rote learning doesn't work. The more I ask her to do the same thing again and again, the more she will screw up. The best way is still to ask her to practise small bits of questions, but frequently. Rather than big chunck of work at one go. She just shut down.

4. You  don't have to do things in sequence. Coz it will probably take ages for them to move on to the next level. I used to think I must get her to understand the concept first, then move on. Maths is too abstract for her. So doing the exercise will not make any sense right? WRONG! Though she still doesn't understand the concept, I can make her do the exercise and practise, while trying to get her understand the concept. If not, she will never catch up in school, which will be very depressing for both of us.

5. For some people, it's just not possible to memorize the 12 time tables. No matter how hard they tried. It was very frustrating for me n Emily to get her to memorize them. She will be crying, I will be screaming, it was madness.

6. What looks easy to us might not look easy to them. I drive me nuts that she cannot remember 5x1=5 or anything x zero=ZERO...but they just don't get it. Even if it seems like plain common sense to us. So breatheeeeee :-P

7. Once they get it, it will get easier. The confidence they gained will help them remember things that seems impossible before. It's like magic. Suddenly they can remember ;-)

Last school holiday, I tried this method with Emily. This is some of her working following the Misternumber method.

Lo and behold, she finally "memorize" the 12 time tables in 7 days. She doesn't literally memorize it off her head, but she will write down the time tables, and she can remember how to do it from x1 to x12. So I have made her do the 12 time tables everyday, and thank god she has memorised some of them off her head. So she will do the 12 time tables before she start doing her maths revision. Doing it on grid paper will makes it easier and faster.
But she still need lots of practice. This is one of the typical dyslexic mistake.

She screwed up with the sequence. 9x7=63. But instead of putting 3 down, and 6 up there, she did it the other way round. So she got the answer wrong. Once u understand their problem, this can be quite funny n hillarious ;-) Dyslexic doesn't do well with multiple instruction and sequence. Emily will make mistakes like 10x11=101. She knows it's 110 but somehow it got jumbled up once she wrote it on paper. I used to go bonkus over silly mistakes like this, but I have learned that with lots of practice, she will eventually remember the rules.

There are few more days left for school holiday. Hopefully she will master it by the end of the week. There's lots of ideas on how to teach multiplication from here too. Some look fun. Will try some, and will update how she progresses. Hopefully, hopefullyyyy we will see lights at the end of the tunnel ;-)

Their therapy session, after the stressful revision drill by dearest ummi....


  1. oh dearie me, i did the multiplication and i got the same answer, *&*(! my 63 became 36!!! oh no i'm too old to be cured!

  2. to be honest, the more i teach emily and read abt dyslexia, i also think I have some elements of dyslexia...maybe dah jadik psycho coz knows too much :P