Archive for December, 2009

Recommended by “Ask A Teacher” in The Orange County Register

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Carol Veravanich recommended my math program in her “Ask A Teacher” column in The  Orange County Register (December 21, 2009).

A parent asked how she could help her fourth-grade son with math over the Christmas vacation.  Carol emphasized her son needed to know the multiplication tables.  “All kids struggling with multiplication tables do not have learning disorders,” Carol replied.  “Some kids need extra practice as well as different approaches.”   

As for my method, Carol stated: “There is an interesting math program I learned about available at that focuses on learning multiplication through patterns.”

Thank you, Carol.  In appreciation to you and The OC Register, I am offering a free copy of my workbook to five Irvine families, one per family.  The offer expires January 1, 2010.

Merry Christmas from Irvine, California!

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Christmas morning was sunny and clear so after our Christmas breakfast  (I was up late making a traditional Christmas Danish for friends and family) and gift giving, we headed out for a hike overlooking Laguna Beach. 

The temperature was a bit cool for us — in the mid 60’s, enviable weather when you consider the snow and sleet in other parts of the country!  After the rain a couple of weeks ago, the trail is brushed with green.  Great to be outdoors engaged in strenous activity after indulgently sampling  rum balls, lemon cake made from Meyer lemons from my lemon tree, my Martha Stewart touch this season, and gingerbread cookies for our holiday entertaining  these past two weeks.   Late this afternoon, we’ll have a traditional Chistmas dinner with all the trimmings. 

As I sit down for dinner, I will contemplate the blessings of this year.  Many have come from families such as yours who tell me how my little workbook has helped their child.  It is very gratifying to imagine children all over the country and in different parts of the world who have benefited from my little book.  I am indeed grateful to you and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Mommy, is Santa real? The crucial role of imagination in your child’s development

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

What does a parent say when a child asks, “Mommy/Daddy, is Santa real?”  

In an article, “The Power of Magical Thinking,” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal,  Dr. Jacqueline Woolley, a professor at University of Texas at Austin, suggests parents answer the question with:  “Is there something you saw or heard that makes you think Santa isn’t real?”  or “What do you think?”   This way a parent can determine how strong the child’s doubts are.  Maybe all the child needs for reassurance is:  “It’s fun to believe in Santa, isn’t it?” 

The younger the child, the greater the need for magical thinking.  In a study of children and the Tooth Fairy, Dr. Woolley found, not surprisingly, that 65% of five year olds believed in the Tooth Fairy, 54% of seven year olds believed and only 24% of nine-year olds believed.   As children’s cognitive skills develop, the less likely they are to believe in the Tooth Fairy and other “magical” figures.  At nine, children are more likely to use logic and cognitive skills to figure out  just who the tooth fairy might be.   They might not reveal they’ve caught on as they want the dollars or coins to magically appear under the pillow.

Dr. Woolley explains that imagination is vital to a child’s development.  Imagination not only allows a child to conceptualize a historical event or epoch or ponder the future but also allows your child to understand someone else’s pint of view.  Autistic children do not engage in much pretend play, leading some specialists to theorize that the lack of this pretend play contributes to their social deficits.    Imagination builds your child’s capacity for empathy. 

A child’s ability to engage his/her imagination is a strength. Children can “fix a problem with their imagination.”  

So encourage your child to role play.  Encourage your child to use his/her imagination.  Don’t forget to read to your child as this activity not only engages your child’s imagination but forms a close bond between parent and child.   Think of all the imaginary worlds open to both of you.

The Twelve Days of Christmas and why patterns are fun!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas, celebrating the gift-giving bounty of Christmas, is a favorite of children.

The charm of the memorable lines is the ever-increasing number of gifts.   On each of the twelve days, the number of gifts corresponds with the day’s numerical sequence in these twelve days of Christmas.  So we begin with:  “On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.”  Fair enough.  But “on the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.”  Then “on the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.”

Children immediately recognize a pattern!  Each stanza begins with “on the X day of Christmas, my true love sent to me X gifts and then a recitation of the previous gifts, ending with And a partridge in a pear tree.” 

Whereas it is rather quaint the loved one received a (one) patridge in a pear tree on day 1, the recitation of gifts on the 12th day reveals the overwhelming bounty of  the  true love’s gift giving has reached a humorous and chaotic extreme:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords a-leaping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,

Five golden rings,

Four calling birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree!


Just as there are patterns in math, there are patterns in songs and poems.  Not only are the patterns mnemonic devices helping children remember the stanzas but patterns entertain and delight.  The brain is engaged anticipating how the next stanza fulfills the pattern.  Decoding patterns whether in math or in this traditional Christmas carol is fun! 


How many gifts did the loved one receive?  Seventy-eight!      




Thank You for Customer Review on Amazon

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Hi everyone,

It’s fun to log on to Amazon and discover an Amazon customer (S. Hanany) loves my book and has posted a review!  Here it is: 

Excellent learning tool!  Makes math fun and easy to understand!  This book is great! My daughter, who is 10, has always had problems with math. She is in 5th grade and is clearly struggling. The author shows these little tricks and strategies that make math very easy and less intimidating to a child thinks it’s too hard. The pictures make it fun as well. I would definitely recommend it as a tool to help make math more fun and less work.

I live for reviews such as this!  Amazon now lets you post a comment about the review so I replied:

Thank you for your kind comments! Although the illustrations are designed for a younger child, my workbook is popular with older students like your daughter. My graphic artists and I spent two years designing the book cover to cover. There is art on every page such as watermark figures to trace. Many children who have an aptitude for math have an aptitude for art. I want to encourage this.

Just as you say, the tricks and strategies make learning the times tables so much easier. It’s not only difficult but highly inefficient to learn one math fact at a time. Seeing a pattern makes learning the table so much easier. Why not discover the beauty and logic of math at an early age? Instead of rote drills, let’s teach the tables in such a way that children are intrigued by math. I want all children to say, “I love math!”  (Eugenia Francis, the author)


It’s very gratifying to know that children are benefiting from my method.  In 2006, I had taught one child (my son) this method.  Now over 8,000 children have learned the times tables using my method!  Thank you S. Hanany and other parents and teachers for trying my workbook and sharing your success stories with others.