Posts Tagged ‘Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables’

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.

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 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.”
 
 
 

Tips for teaching your child ADDITION

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Yesterday I received an email from a mom asking for tips on teaching her son addition.

My reply:

For addition and subtraction, I recommend Cuisenaire Rods by Learning Resources. I found these on Amazon. These connecting rods in different colors come in sizes from 1 to 10 cells. Your son will see that to make a rod as long as the ten, he can use two 5s or a 5, a 3 and a 2. Manipulatives make math real.

It’s important to teach children early on the concept of ODD and EVEN numbers. I recommend using M&Ms, Cheerios or pennies to teach this. All EVEN numbers can be grouped in 2s but with an ODD number, one is always left over. You might take an egg carton and have your son distribute 15 M&Ms (two by two) in the carton. One will be left over. Now compare with 16. He will learn that all even numbers end with 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0.

Let your son see the pattern of EVEN numbers. These can be grouped in 2s. When you add two even numbers, you are keeping an EVEN pattern. When you add two ODD numbers, the extra one combines with the extra one of the other number and makes a pair. Do this with pennies. The only time you get an ODD total is when you add an EVEN and an ODD number.

For my son, I would take addition flash cards and go through these. I would not ask for the total but whether the total would be ODD or EVEN: 9 + 6 versus 9 + 5.

Also fun is to open an M&M bag (small) and count the M&Ms — first the grand total. Now count how many reds, blues, etc. Which colors are odd numbers? Which are even? If you have a bag and are counting yours at the same time, it makes this more interesting as the bags will vary in number of reds etc. and one bag may have that extra M&M. Make a bar graph of the different colors. This will immediately show your child how many more yellows that red. If you do this on graph paper, the graph will end up looking like the Cuisenaire rods. Then for the ODD M&Ms give your child an extra one of yours.

Again, real objects that a child manipulates make math real. It’s also good to use coins as children are always interested in money. A dime is EVEN but what about a quarter? How many different ways can your son combine coins to equal a quarter? For a quarter, he will have a minimum of 3 coins. There are no 2 coins that will equal a quarter. If you tell your son he can keep the coins after the math lesson, he will be exra motivated to do this lesson.

Happy New Year! Thank you for a GREAT 2010!

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Let me take a moment to thank you a GREAT 2010!  Last month, my publisher informed me that my workbook was in the TOP three sellers for the month of November at Infinity Publishing. 

Sales of my workbook are nearing 10,000 copies.  Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables has been #1 on Amazon under “multiplication tables” these past three years.  I owe it ALL to my faithful customers who through word of mouth have made my workbook a success. 

Had my son not resisted learning the tables through rote memorization, I would not have developed my method.  So as always, Scott, thank you for leading me on this extraordinary journey.

My little workbook connects me to the world.  Through PayPal orders on this website, I learn how someone in Singapore, London or a remote town in Maine heard of my workbook.  I’ve received countless emails from families telling me the difference my workbook made in their child’s life.  Thank you so much for sharing your stories, those from parents and teachers of special needs children are especially poignant.

Moms and dads, every day you confront routine problems in your children’s  lives and solve them.  I encourage you to share your innovations with other families by bringing these to market.  I believe if more of us would do for other people’s children what we do for our own, the world would be a better place.

                                      Wishing you Happy Times this New Year!

                                                                  Eugenia 

. Why all the artwork in my workbook?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

teachildmath-coverWhen I wrote my Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables workbook, I wanted to create the excitement of a circus.  I wanted each page to be as REAL as possible. I had my graphic artist, Rudy Rodriguez, create the cute circus animals and clowns.  I thought it fitting that Rudy the Ringmaster be named for him.

To make the times tables REAL, I used grids.  Children can immediately see how the multiples increase from 1 x 1 to 10 x 10.  This develops number sense.  On a grid, they can see that 5 x 5 really equals 25 squares.  Some children will quickly fill in the tables on the grid so I included circus figure watermarks for children to trace.  I wanted to entertain children as they learned the  times tables.

 

Children who have an aptitude for math often have an aptitude for art.  Because we were working so much with grids, I asked myself: Why not take the opportunity to teach basic drawing at the same time?   We included eight pages of “copy the circus character on the grid”.   I wanted a workbook that was also a fun activity workbook.  I wanted a workbook that children couldn’t wait to work in.

 

The first mom to receive a copy of my workbook took it with her on the family’s beach vacation.  She told me her son promised to work on it 20 minutes a day.  She knew she’d have to interrupt his afternoon each day.  But to her surprise her son came out of his room after his nap with the workbook in hand.  Rather than napping, he’d been filling it in.  “I never had to ask him to do his math homework,” she said.  “But to get him to nap, I did have to take the workbook away.”   At that moment, I knew my book would be a success!

Make Math Real!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

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Yesterday, I tutored a 5th grade student in math.  Julie is a smart girl but sometimes lacks confidence in her math skills.  Her mother wanted her to work on ratios and percentages.  I decided the math lesson would be more “real” if we worked with cents, dimes, nickels and quarters to learn percentages.  After all, percent means per hundred.  Our lowly penny is a cent, meaning one-hundredth.  So it’s not hard to figure out that a penny/cent is 1% of a dollar.  You need 100 of these to make a dollar.  The math is written:  100 x .01 =  $1.  So one penny is 1/100 of a dollar.  Divide 1 by 100 and you’ll get 1%.

 

On the kitchen table, I scattered handfuls of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.   After we figured out a penny was 1% of a dollar, we went on to quarters.  Every child knows four quarters make a dollar.  We represented a quarter as a fraction:  ¼  and then divided 1 by 4 .and got .25 or 25%.    Two quarters represented  2/4 or 1/2  or 50% of a dollar.  Three quarters represented 3/4 or 75%.  With each of these computations, Julie handled the money, sliding it in place for the various math problems.  We then worked with dimes (its root word means ten) and nickels.  Interesting we have one coin named after the metal it’s made of.  As a child, I had difficulty understanding a nickel which is larger than a thin dime was worth one half of a dime!  So working with coins, we figured out percentages.

 

Then we turned to ratios.  I’d scatter an assortment of coins on the tabletop.  “How many of the 12 coins are quarters?” I’d ask.  We’d write the ratio:  3/12 and figure out the percent.  Then I had Julie scatter the coins herself and make up her own percentage problems. 

 

 

So when you have the opportunity, make math real by having real objects to illustrate the math lesson.

 

 

Any Correlation between Your Child’s Reading and Writing Skills?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

 

 

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All the recent news articles, keep focusing on recruiting and retaining the best science and math teachers but  why the scant mention of recruiting and retaining the best  English teachers?  

 

As a former college English composition instructor, I saw first-hand the deplorable state of freshman writing.  Not only is it’s used incorrectly as a possessive when it can only be the contraction for  it is but an apostrophe + s was added to nouns to form plurals!   Yes, dear reader’s, this is true!  Alas, what is one to do?

 

Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between reading skills and writing skills.  Not surprisingly, students who were voracious readers were excellent writers.  Students who love to read are text savvy.  They know what paragraphs look like.  They know paragraphs open with a topic sentence supported by facts and examples.  Good readers are familiar with rules of punctuation and the grammar.  Good readers develop an extensive vocabulary.

 

Parents, I urge you to read to your toddler.  Make sure your first through third graders learn to read and encourage them to read to you.  If your child loves to read, your child will love learning.  An added bonus:  your child will become a proficient writer.

 

Encourage your children to design and write their own books.  When they come home from school with their artwork, take the opportunity to not only display it on the fridge but write a story about their drawing.  Talk about how now they are not only the illustrator but the author of a story.

 

Every time I read a picture book to my children, I would read the names of the author and the illustrator.  Sometimes they were one and the same.  Teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.

 

little-rabbit-foo-fooLittle Rabbit Foo Foo, a storybook by Michael Rosen, charmed my  three and four-year old grandchildren while visiting in California. No matter how many times we read it, they couldn’t wait to turn the page and see Little Rabbit Foo Foo bop yet another creature on the head despite Good Fairy’s warnings!  

 

 

Little Rabbit Foo Foo turned out to be a real page turner!  Within one afternoon, the three-year old twins had memorized the book, could pick out the words: little, rabitt, foo foo and good fairy among others. They also knew when to turn the page. My daughter grew up with the song/game so it was fun to see her children enjoy it so. The illustrations by Arthur Robins of Rabbit Foo Foo riding through a forest on a motorbike, red mallet poised in the air are delightful as is the put-upon Good Fairy. For the children, it was thrilling to see naughty Rabbit Foo Foo defy the Good Fairy but there were consequences.  Your little ones will love it!

 

Be sure to also teach your children the game.  Children sit in a circle and recite the verses as a child in the role of naughty Little Rabbit Foo Foo circles the group and then lightly taps one of the children on the head who in turn becomes Rabbit Foo Foo.

 

The lesson in all this is:  share with your children the JOY of reading good books.  You, the parent, are the Good Fairy who can turn your child into an avid reader and a skilled writer! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview on Homeschooling 101 Blog Talk Radio

Friday, May 14th, 2010
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I just came across an interview I did on Homeschooling 101 Blog Talk Radio.  In the interview, I discuss how I developed my method, discovering patterns for each of the tables.  I also discuss the benefits of my method for children with special needs.

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The link is: www.blogtalkradio.com/homeschooling101.

 

School Choice Reform? Now is the time.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Yesterday, I read an excellent article, “Pennsylvania Kids Deserve School Choice,” in The Wall Street Journal.  Written by Anthony Hardy Williams, an African-American legislator in Pennsylvania, who is running for governor, the article appeared on the op-ed page of the Journal. 

Mr. Williams argues President Obama’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program will not improve public education in and of itself. Should Pennsylvania be awarded a $400 million grant, Mr. Williams states this amount would represent “less than half of 1% of the $23 billion spent annually” in Pennsylvania’s public school system, a paltry “$56 more per child.” 

Believing competition among schools improves the quality of education, Mr. Williams advocates school choice.  School choice would allow not only public schools but charter, magnet, private and vocational schools to compete for “a piece of the $23 billion” spent annually in Pennsylvania’s public school system.

Some might wonder whether school choice is in fact a legitimate option. According to Mr. Williams, the Supreme Court ruled in the 2002 case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that school-choice programs are constitutional.  This ruling by the court has “the potential to fulfill the promise of Brown v. the Board of Education and bring true equality to education.”  However, there are those who oppose school choice.  The teachers union argues that what ails the public schools, particularly those in the inner-city, isn’t lack of competition but rather adequate funding. “This is a myth,” Mr. Williams says.

Apparently, Pennsylvania spends an average of $16,462 per student.  Yet if a private or charter school were to spend this amount on a student and not produce results, parents would remove their child from the school and that school would ultimately fail.  “But parents don’t have the option of withdrawing a child from a failing public school,” Mr. Williams explains.  “Today’s system permits failing schools to continue, penalizing less fortunate children.” 

In Mr. Williams’ case, his mother, a public school teacher, alarmed by the unsafe neighborhoods her son traveled through on his way to school, saw to it that he got a scholarship to a private school.  

Parents should have the right to choose the best school for their child.  How can we call ourselves a free country when we deny parents this fundamental right?  Yet our legislators in D.C. including President Obama send their children to private schools.  Indeed, would Mr. Obama be president had he not attended the prestigious Punahou school in Hawaii?  Would he have received the same quality education in Hawaii’s public schools?  His mother like Mr. Williams’ chose to opt out of public education for her son.

Many African-American mothers email me, telling me they opted to homeschool rather than send their children to these failing inner-city schools.  If we do not give parents school choice, the achievement gap will continue to widen.

Were I living in Pennsylvania, Mr. Williams would have my vote. Anthony Hardy Williams should be applauded for his courageous stance.  In several television interviews, I’ve heard Geoffrey Canada support school choice.  Bravo to both men for supporting families and defending their right to choose the best school for their child.  Education should be about the children.

To read the article in full, google “Pennsylvania Kids Deserve School Choice at The Wall Street Journal.”