Math in Focus

So you’ve returned from the holiday break and had a couple of weeks to adjust to the school routine. Your children have probably been assessed by their teachers, and you may have a good idea of how well they are retaining the knowledge they learned from the first part of the school year.

Now the fun begins, getting them ready for the final countdown to the end of the year assessment, and if your children are like many, they have an area where they are lagging behind academically. If that area is math, you are in luck. Math in Focus is an excellent way to teach any youngster how to master basic math skills which will set a great foundation for algebra and beyond.

The first step is to get the appropriate workbook to help your child learn. Don’t be afraid to get a workbook that is below or above their grade level. The key is to get what your child needs. Teaching is about adapting to the child and how they learn.

The second step, try to do the workbook yourself. If you understand the concept, it will be far easier for you to explain it to your child, but be prepared to try a few different tactics. Kids will see the world differently than you, and the more tricks you have to teach a concept, the more likely you will find one that works for them. Math isn’t something you can force. It has to be fun and challenging, but not beyond comprehension, so take it slow and keep at it.

Here are a few tactics that I have used to teach basic addition and subtraction.


This one I call the rainbow effect. It’s pretty simple. First have your child write the numbers zero to five. This gives them practice writing their numbers and keeps them focused on the project. Next, have them draw a colorful rainbow connecting the numbers, like the picture above. Then, have your child write out each addition equation. Keep in mind that you may have to help them with this process. You could have the basic equation already filled in ___ + ___ = ___ , or you could have parts of it filled in and let them complete the rest, ___ + 4 = 5

Examples are good too. The idea is to generate interest, not frustration.

Once they appear to get the hang of it, start using numbers from 2 to 10. You can then add the subtraction problems to the mix. They can still use the rainbow effect for this, or if they aren’t a “rainbow” kind of kid, there are other activity toys that work well, like Unifix Cubes.

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Some kids learn best with something they can build, tactile learning, and Unifix Cubes work really well for these learners. Let them set up the equation using the cubes. This more interactive technique will keep them engaged while they learn addition and subtraction.

Once you find your child has mastered a basic technique, you can move on to larger numbers up to twenty and design some Fact Family Triangles. 


These are great for practicing addition and subtraction skills that will help reinforce the strong bond between the two. 

Once your child has the “basics” down, these concept can easily be converted to algebraic equations. Using the example above you can get them to fill in an equation like:

___ + 5 = 3 + 2   or   1 + ___ = 2 + 3, and then transition to  y + 2 = x + 4

Take each transition and concept slow by introducing it a few times until they start asking questions about it… questions equate to interest, and you can start working on each concept in more depth.

Still need more? Here are a few videos to help. Have fun!