|As a young student, Matthew Myers used a tactile-visual-verbal method to solve math problems: finger-counting. While this can be helpful for a time, basic math skills must become ‘automatic,’ so that the student can focus on more complex math skills and concepts.|
I still remember the evening nearly 30 years ago when I found out that our oldest son—who was finishing up a second grade math workbook—couldn’t add:
“Say, Matthew, what’s 7 + 4 ?”
“Uh, 7 + 4 ?” Matt replied. “Let’s see. . . 7, (and his fingers went under the table as he whispered slowly) 8, 9, 10, 11 . . . 11 !”
Each problem I asked went that way. He understood the concept, and could use a concrete procedure (counting fingers) to get the answer (most of the time!) after 7 or 8 laborious seconds.
|Today, Matthew is a military engineering officer who uses math a lot in designing and constructing buildings, roads, bridges, and other projects.|
“Two years with workbooks haven’t given Matthew the level of skill he needs,” I thought. “He’ll really get bogged down in multi-digit multiplication and long division, where he’s got to use addition and subtraction routinely on his way to getting the answer. And if he learns to multiply and divide no better than he adds and subtracts, then fractions will be a disaster!”
This episode is what spurred me on to develop Learning Vitamins—quick, potent drills to bridge the gap between just ‘knowing about’ and doing well. In math and other key areas, just a few minutes a day with Learning Vitamins help build skills to that delightful point where your children take off and run with them!
Our School Made Simple products emphasize character and competence. Character springs from the context of one’s creaturehood, moral condition, stewardship under God, and a right relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. Competence includes both knowledge and know-how: knowledge of what is and what might be done, and the skill to make and do.
|Competence without Character...|
|“I'll re-pave your driveway for just $500!” (The job needs 10 sacks of concrete, but I'll use just 6, plus extra sand and water, and make a bundle.)|
|“Six weeks from now, when this driveway cracks, I’ll be long gone!”|
|Character without Competence...|
|“I'll re-pave your driveway for just $350!” (Six sacks of concrete should be enough to do the job.)|
|“Whew! It’ll take 10 sacks instead of just six. I won’t make a penny on this job!”|
Character provides motivation to attain competence and to employ it in a life’s work of eternal value, while competence makes possible the expression of character in beautiful, productive ways.
School Made Simple products consist of quick, daily drills which help children bridge the gap between learning what to do and being able to do it well. In other words, our products are “Learning Vitamins®” that help turn knowledge into know-how! Learning Vitamins also provide a moral frame of reference for the subjects covered, by means of the Bible texts that appear on every exercise. As you draw attention to these texts and explore them with your students, they become powerful character-building tools.
Dr. Myers has written an article entitled Simple Steps to Superior Skills which gives some great strategies for making sure that your kids succeed. We think you’ll find it informative and encouraging! Click here to read the article.