Archive for December, 2016

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

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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

Sunday, 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

Friday, 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 ) 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.”