Normally we think of math lessons as a pattern of instruction and then solving problems. The teacher goes over some new skill or concept, and then the student does math exercises from a workbook. But what about having your child create the math problems for his lesson? This turning of the tables is a great learning activity for five reasons.
1. The change of role from solver to questioner is a novel approach.
Unless you use this method often, asking your child to write the questions is going to get his attention and probably motivate him. He may even think the day’s math lesson is fun.
2. Writing a good math problem (and its solution) requires a thorough understanding of the math concept.
It is not as easy as it seems to create math exercises. There is a lot of critical thinking going on – sometimes thinking backwards from the solution to the question and other times applying new knowledge to a fresh situation. More than likely your child will have to edit her problems as she works them out and discovers trouble spots. This kind of math experimentation leads to a deeper understanding of the skills and concepts in the lesson.
3. Kids enjoy acting the part of the smarty pants.
For maximum benefit, take the role of the student and work the problems your child created. Your child will love this role reversal when she can verify your answer or correct your mistakes. Playing the role of the teacher is a strong confidence booster especially for a poor performing math student.
4. Writing a math problem, especially if it is a word problem, incorporates language and math vocabulary.
When possible, have your child create a word problem. Using words in conjunction with numbers stimulates the linguistic side of the brain along with the numeric parts. When more parts of the brain are used, there is greater retention and deeper understanding. Another plus is that the child will have a chance to use the new math terms from the lesson.
5. Children can be creative and humorous when they make the math problems.
The math problems can include diagrams, charts, special pictures, and even silly situations. The possibilities for being creative and even ridiculous are endless. Let your child’s imagination loose when he writes his own math problems.
Try it soon. Plan a day of reverse math problems where your child makes up the problems. Then see if you can solve them. I guarantee it will be a math lesson to remember.