A great way to check if your son or daughter really understands what they’re working on is – once they’ve already spent some time practicing a particular problem type – to ask them to create their own original “designer” problem.
I frequently use the words, “Now I want to see a [student’s name] Original!” (Like if I was tutoring a student named Sally, I would say, “Now I want to see a Sally Original!”)
Why does this help?
1. First, being asked to create an original problem quickly reveals whether or not the student has truly internalized what they’re working on. If they can create and solve their own unique problem similar to what they’ve been working on, it means that they understand the material on a deeper level than just being able to DO it – they can actually CREATE it from scratch.
2. Second, it’s fun! Usually kids are really excited for the opportunity to create their own problem.
3. Third, when students do this, sometimes they’ll actually create and solve something much more complex than they have been working on. It’s like they want to take it to the next level, and they can without anyone stopping them, because they’re totally in the driver’s seat.
(Also, sometimes the opposite will happen, where a student will be reluctant to do this because they haven’t been asked to do it before, or they don’t feel ready. If this happens, you can just offer to go first or take turns, or if you really sense they’re communicating they need more practice first, do more practice problems before coming back and asking them to create their own.)
4. Fourth, it really helps them take ownership of their own learning. When you’re making and solving your own problem, it means you understand math is something you can CREATE – not just something random you’re being asked to do. This is a major confidence builder.
And it also really brings home the fact that math is a human creation, with its own beautiful idiosyncrasies!
Are you tired of not even having time to create dinner for your family because your kid’s math homework has become an overwhelming family-wide project? Do you wish that your kid could experience math creatively, as a source of fun, confidence, and security, instead of dread or incompetence? Are you ready to invest in high-level, super-customized tutoring support?
Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.
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