Happy New Year!

January 4th, 2017

Just as 2016 was coming to an end, Teacher Heaven, a bookstore in Austin placed an order for their stores throughout Texas. The owner told me she loved the workbook. Teachers and homeschool moms will see my workbook on the shelves.

Texas has a huge homeschool community. My daughter, who lives in San Antonio, homeschooled her children for six years. I’ve had a booth at the Texas Book Festival in October and had a chance to meet teachers, parents and children.

2016 also presented me with the opportunity to travel to Paris and introduce the French edition to bookstores there. It’s gratifying to see orders coming in from Europe and the UK. I’m pleased that I’ve sold over 18,000 copies and now have a French edition. The Spanish edition will be available in the spring.

I also signed up for “expanded distribution” on Ingram so my workbooks will not be available on online bookstores as well as brick-and-mortar stores. For all these reasons, I believe 2017 will be a good year.

I wish you a Happy New Year filled with love and laughter.

How an email to The Wall Street Journal led to a Profile Article

December 19th, 2016

For years I’ve been an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal informs and entertains me. I especially look forward to the weekend edition, filled with fascinating articles.

One Saturday morning, I was reading Encore profiles, profiles of people who in retirement have done something interesting–something entirely different from their previous career. I sent off an email to the editor, telling him of my unlikely path from UCI English instructor to children’s math book writer. I mentioned how my father had been an entrepreneur, building two companies, and the lessons learned from him. I’d seen firsthand the risks and the rewards. To my astonishment, I received a response from the editor stating: “One of our reporters will be contacting you.” For a minute I stared at my computer screen in total disbelief!

Within a few weeks, one of their journalists interviewed me and asked me about my background, my math workbook and my company, TeaCHildMath. The morning of publication, I was up at 4:00 in my California home. Within three hours, PayPal orders poured in from East Coast to the West Coast. It was like seeing the map of the USA light up before my eyes. Hundreds of orders poured in!

Never would I have imagined the WSJ writing a profile article on me and my second-career story. How did it happen? I took the time time to write an email. Ten minutes paid enormous dividends. My father would’ve been so proud.

Indebted to Sandra Rief, author of How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/HD

December 15th, 2016

“Many children struggle learning and recalling multiplication facts and need other techniques rather than rote memorization to master these skills. Eugenia Francis’ workbook utilizes wonderful, brain-compatible strategies and methods to do so–such as learning to recognize and attend to patterns for each of the multiplication tables, using memory tricks/mnemonics, and other engaging and fun techniques. I recommend Teach your Child the Multiplication Tables as a helpful resource for children to learn the math facts and understand the principles of multiplication.” Sandra Rief, author of How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD

When I published my workbook in 2006, I gave copies to my local the elementary school, the school my son had attended. The Special Ed teachers in particular liked my book. “The patterns appeal to my students,” they said. Why did ADHD students have an affinity for patterns, I wondered.

I researched the topic and came across How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD by Sandra Rief, an excellent resource. I discovered that ADHD students are right-brain learners. They need to see the “big picture” in order to understand the parts. Most of us are left-brain learners and from the parts, we construct the whole. I immediately saw that my method based on patterns presented the “big picture.”

I sent Sandra a copy and asked for her comments. She generously offered to endorse my method. Her endorsement appears on the back cover of my workbook. I had the privilege of meeting her at an ADD conference. When I receive PayPal orders, I ask customers how it is that they heard of my workbook. Often the answer is: “Sandra Rief’s recommendation in ADDitude.”

Over 18,000 copies of my book have helped children master the times tables. Sandra helped launch my book in the ADD/HD community. Again, many thanks!

Benefits of the “Bilingual Brain” in Math

December 4th, 2016

Raised in Mexico City, the daughter of American parents, I grew up bilingual. Speaking another language has certainly proven to be an asset and no doubt influenced my decision to major in Comparative Literature. In my pre-university life, I excelled in math. I’ve often wondered if my bilingualism gave me an advantage in math?

A few years ago, I read a study conducted in Quebec in which children from French-speaking homes went to schools whose curriculum was taught in English and English-speaking students who went to French schools. Both groups did well in their acquired second language, but what surprised researchers was that these bilingual students did better in math than their monolingual counterparts at these schools.

The researchers concluded that bilingual students had developed strong analytical skills that facilitated understanding math concepts and solving complex word problems. The ability to think in two languages promoted higher levels of abstract thought, a crucial cognitive skill that benefits students in mathematics.

So beyond the apparent socio-cultural and economic benefits of speaking a second language, let’s not overlook the enhanced cognitive skills acquired in learning a second language.

Times Tables, the Key to Your Child’s Success? The benefit of a press release in launching your book

December 2nd, 2016

Often moms who have written a children’s book as me how I launched mine. Of great help was the press release below, published in 2016. This press release appeared on numerous websites and was published in five languages! It also was published in Education Matters, a journal for educators. Can you imagine what a full page ad in that magazine would have cost me?

Times Tables, the Key to Your Child’s Success?
 
Irvine, CA- When did you lose interest in math?  Never had any?  Maybe, but Eugenia Francis knows exactly when it started to happen to her son.  The moment?  The dread rite of passage all children face:  the multiplication tables.
 
As her son struggled with endless drills, Francis realized there had to be a better way.  Why not learn the tables in context of one another and emphasize the commutative property (i.e. 4 x 6 is the same as 6 x 4) of the multiplication tables?  Francis drew a grid for tables 1-10 and discovered patterns for her son to decode.  The mysteries of the times tables unfolded as a daily exploration of “magic” never discussed in his third-grade class.  Their fridge eventually was papered with patterns that made the times tables intriguing. “Patterns made my son smile,” Francis says. “He could see the structure and knew he got it right.”
 
Ever the creative educator, Francis taught college English. “Patterns whether in literature or math,” she says, “reveal the underlying structure.  There is an inherent simplicity in them, an inherent beauty.  Math should engage your child’s imagination.”
 
At the kitchen table, Francis applied her skills to math.  Why not learn the tables in order of difficulty?  Tables 2, 4, 6 and 8 are easy to learn as they end in some combination of 2-4-6-8-0.  Tables for odd numbers also have distinct patterns.  Why not a more creative approach?  Thus was born Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables, Fun, Fast and Easy with Dazzling Patterns, Grids and Tricks! (available on Amazon and www.TeaCHildMath.com ) and mom the entrepreneur. 
 
Patterns appeal to children. Learning to recognize patterns teaches analytical skills. A review in California Homeschool News stated:  “My daughter thinks it’s is lots of fun.  She’s already had quite a few ‘ah-ha moments as she recognizes and predicts the various patterns.”  Patterns enhance recall.  “Children with ADHD, dyslexia and autism do well with my method,” Francis says.
 
Parents and teachers must ensure children learn the multiplication tables. “Without them a child is doomed,” Francis states.  A child who has not mastered the times tables has difficulty succeeding in mathematics beyond the third grade. 
 
A recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times noted that failure to pass Algebra I was the “single biggest obstacle to high school graduation” and that failure to master the multiplication tables was one of the main reasons.  A survey of California Algebra I teachers report that 30% of their students do not know the multiplication tables.  It is hardly surprising then that fifteen-year olds in the U.S. rank near the bottom of industrialized nations in math skills. 
 
“We have one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world,” Bill Gates stated.  “If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their zip code, their skin color or their parents’ income.  That is offensive to our values.”
 
Teachers must innovate and bring the magic of math into the classroom.  Parents must do their part.  “Parents have a huge influence over a third or fourth grader,” Francis states.  “By high school it may be too late.  Why not take the opportunity that teaching the multiplication tables provides to give your child a head start in math and develop analytical skills necessary for algebra?  Mastery of the multiplication tables is essential to your child’s future.”
 
Francis published her innovative workbook to help other families. “If more of us would do for other people’s children what we do for our own, the world would be a better place.”
 
 
 

In Paris Last Month/Dropped French edition at schools and libraries

November 30th, 2016

I had the good fortune of traveling to Paris with my sister last month. We stayed in the charming Hotel d’Angleterre on the Left Bank, very near Notre Dame. The hotel had been the British embassy and notables like Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving and Hemingway stayed there.

The weather was perfect — in the 70s with sunset was around 8:00 pm. Lovely long days with walks through sun-dappled Tuileries Gardens. My sister Betty abhors the metro so got around Paris on the double-decker bus. When in Paris why not see Paris? Not only can you ride till 10:00 pm up the Champs Elysees and over to the Eiffel Tower and see these sights day and night but there are two other routes. We took one to Montmartre. I’d spent my Junior Year in France and knew the city well. What was so amazing was being atop the double-decker bus, sometimes listening to the audio tours, and seeing parts of Paris I’d never seen that year or on subsequent trips to Paris. If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll enjoy Paris, the Novel by Rutherford. The history of Paris from the 12th century on is woven through the lives of five families.

We decided September would be ideal. What with the internet, it’s easy to plan a trip. Through Expedia, I booked a Vivaldi concert in the magnificent Sainte Chapelle. To see the jewel-like Sainte Chapelle with seating like a chapel (on a normal visit it’s an empty space surrounded by beautiful stained-glass windows) was an extraordinary experience. Not only did we enjoy the concert but also the spectacle of light slowly dimming in the windows, turning them cobalt-blue as night fell.

Other highlights included a night walking tour of Paris, a trip to Vaux le Vicomte and a trip to the Champagne region. Of course, fabulous meals along the way and a de rigeur stop for divinely decadent desserts at Laudere just down the street from our hotel. Tables in cafes are so close together (you’re elbow to elbow) that we chatted with countless fellow diners. Paris was a party and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

An elementary school was by our hotel and we dropped copies of Enseignez a votre enfant les tables de multiplication. We also went by bookstores including Shakespeare and Company. I left copies of the English edition with WH Smith, an English bookstore by the Place de la Concorde. As a Junior Year in France student, my friends and I would have tea and scones there.

I long for the next trip to Paris. My mission to introduce both the English and French editions to Paris was successful. I am now getting orders from France. Every order that comes in for my French edition makes me tres contente. I envision enfants sitting with their mamans learning les tables with my little book.

The Pursuit of Happiness and Entrepreneurship

July 5th, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

On this day, it’s worth remembering that our Declaration of Independence states that we are endowed with “certain unalienable rights” and that among these are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

While in high school, my daughter Gina was a national finalist in the Junior Achievement Young Entrepreneurs competition and was eligible to enter their speech contest. The topic contestants were given was: “The Quest for Success.”

Gina came to me to brainstorm. Given my background as an English instructor, I suggested she look up “quest” and “success” in the dictionary. She found that a synonym for quest was pursuit and that one for success was happiness. “The pursuit of happiness?” we said to one another, recalling the phrase from the Declaration of Independence. She went on to write a speech stating that the “pursuit of happiness,” guaranteed to us in the Declaration of Independence, also meant the right to strike out on one’s own and become an entrepreneur.

I’m happy to report that Gina won the speech contest! The cash prize helped pay for her first year of college. Pursuing entrepreneurship as a high school student set her on her path toward success.

In launching a business, entrepreneurs fulfill their right to strive for success and pursue happiness on their own terms. Entrepreneurship, in fact, is a declaration of independence.

Reaching customers in the UK and Europe

October 19th, 2015

I’ve been busy getting my website translated in French so that customers can buy the French version of my workbook from me. Up until now, my customers’ other option was to buy books on Amazon in the US.

My workbooks are now available on Amazon in the UK and Europe. I’ve just heard that by the end of October, they will also be for sale on Amazon in Canada. I’m very pleased as Canada is a natural market for both the English and French editions.

I particularly like selling from my website as I ask customers how they heard of my book. About 80% of the time, I get a reply from customers in the US but also Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

I’m always fascinated to hear how a Mom in Singapore, London or Melbourne found out about my book. As international shipping is expensive, I’ve only charged $12 rather than the $26 for priority international shipping to encourage customers overseas to buy my book. Now that my book is available in Europe and will soon be in Canada, my customers (especially those who have Prime Amazon memberships) will be able to buy the book from Amazon and have free shipping or pay a modest in-country rate.

Each week it gives me great pleasure to send books to customers who have bought on my website. At the same time, I check sales on Amazon in the US, the UK and Europe on my account with my publisher. Yes, it has been exciting to see sales of my French book pop up in the UK and Europe. I picture Moms seeing their child’s “a-ha moment” as he/she discovers another pattern and masters another table.

As I’ve said before, I not only want mastery of the tables for all children but to instill in them a love of numbers and a fascination with math.

Autism and Patterns?

June 4th, 2015

Over these years, I’ve hears from countless mothers of children with ADHD who have shared their stories of their child’s success with my method. Recently, I have been hearing from mothers of children with autism.

Children with ADHD have an affinity for patterns. Patterns reveal the underlying structure and make the tables easy to learn. Autistic children also have an affinity for patterns and see connections that the rest of us might miss. Patterns make sense. Rote memorization, on the other hand, is boring and may seem nonsensical.

Growing up, I liked math and excelled in it. However, I chose to study literature. When my son balked at learning the tables through rote memorization, I knew there had to be a better way! Why not a new approach to the tables — one that would discover similarities and differences among the tables? I knew tables 2, 4, 6,and 8 would end in some combination of 2-4-6-8-0. Why not learn the tables for EVEN numbers first which are so easy to learn? Why not see the similarities between them? Tables for ODD numbers also have interesting patterns. Why not explore these and find similarities between them?

My goal in writing my workbook was not only multiplication mastery for all children but to instill in them a love of numbers and fascination with math. Discovering patterns is fun. Let me know how your child did with my method on the contact form of this blog.

Looking for French-speaking math graduates

November 14th, 2014

Enseignez a Votre Enfant les Tables de Multiplication is now published. My translator, Heidi Fournier, is a math and science teacher in a middle school in Switzerland. I have fifteen review copies for French-speaking math graduates or teachers in the US or elsewhere. Contact me here. I will pay the postage too. One copy per person.