Get Into the Right Brain with Math!
This is an article from Homeschool.com’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.
For most people the word “math” conjures up visions of boring numbers suspended in a black and white world of paper, calculators and symbols. Although this analytical left side of the brain definitely plays the leading and most important role in processing numbers, the creative right side can also have a major role in understanding math concepts as well as being a great learning tool for memorization. For many children, merging the two hemispheres can be the key to success.
Since most children spend much of their day utilizing their creative imagination as they explore and learn about their surroundings, it is an easy jump to incorporate this creative side of color and imagery to help memorize and understand math as well.
What is great about right-brain math learning is there are so many ways to easily integrate this hemisphere of the brain. Teaching children fractions merely by using numbers and symbols often leaves the teacher and student in a frustrated state of non-success. However, putting the same children in front of a chocolate chip cookie recipe and helping them understand fractions as they pour ingredients into measuring cups brings the same fractions alive and gives them relevance to their everyday understanding. This right brain learning can even extend beyond the actual experience as they can imagine different scenarios of what they are learning.
This creative, hands-on, kinesthetic type of learning can be incorporated with just about every type of math concept. If your students are struggling with understanding perimeter, give them a measuring tape, a pad of paper, and have them measure the distance around your entire house. I’ll bet they will never forget the meaning of perimeter ever again! For the students that struggle with the concept of division, put a pile of beans in front of them and have them divide it up into various equal parts.
Right-brain math learning can also be a very successful memorization tool of abstract numbers, such as learning the times tables. One very effective way to do this is through mnemonics, which are memory aids that in essence “trick” the brain into remembering. For learning the times tables, the abstract numbers can be turned into characters in a vivid story that comes to life. As the students replay the imaginative scenario within their minds, the hidden multiplication problem and answer are then easily recalled because they have been embedded within the story. The most amazing thing about this method of memorization is that the students don’t even have to be aware they are learning their times tables! The right brain has recorded these vivid stories through the children’s imaginations, thereby allowing them to memorize otherwise abstract numbers.
So, the next time your children are stumped on math, pull them to the right—the right brain side of learning. You can help them understand a difficult concept or memorize some abstract information by acting it out, drawing it, measuring it, counting it, or just imagining a story about it. They will feel confident and more successful, and so will you!
Bio: Jennie von Eggers is the creator of Times Tales, a visual mnemonic program that helps children learn their upper times tables using fun, short stories. She created this program as a result of her own boys struggling to memorize their upper times tables during their homeschool years. Her boys are now away at college, but Times Tales is still helping thousands of students both in the classroom and in homes learn their times tables the creative, right brain way! Times Tales has been awarded Top 50 Homeschool Curriculum Picks three years in a row. For more information visit TimesTales.com.