Never Too Young: How to Teach Algebra to Kids
It’s never too early to teach algebra to your children. My students have told me often that in the upper elementary school years, 4th or 5th grade, they started to learn Algebra. Usually, this memory evokes shudders of pain. Some explain that they never really “got the hang of Algebra”, and that it looks like “just a bunch of letters, numbers, and mixed-up rules” jumbled together. This has been a common discussion over the years with students who somehow got moved on from the comfortable levels of arithmetic into the strange world of Algebra before they were really ready for it. How young is too young for us to teach algebra concepts to our children?
Kids are never too young to learn algebra; they just need to be introduced to it in the right way, when they are ready. So, if it looks like algebra is next in your child’s curriculum list, what do you do?
This question is actually part of the problem. Algebra should not be handled as a separate unit at a certain time. It is actually best taught as an embedded idea as soon as children know how to count and can use elementary mathematical symbols. In short, if they can count, add and subtract, then they are ready.
Algebra quite simply is the study of arithmetic structure. So, how does the teacher introduce algebra concepts to the young student and teach algebra? Even at the youngest ages, our children can be ready for the following lesson sequence:
Teach Algebra to Kids Tip #1- Build on the arithmetic strategies the student knows already. Introduce algebra ideas in a natural, comfortable way, linking from the natural, mathematical ideas of counting and basic numeric operations. Discuss money exchanges, adding and subtracting objects from piles and groups.
“If I have $16 in my pocket and pay Shari and I am left with $9, how much did I pay her?”
“Jeff has three pieces of gum in one pocket and five in the other. How many altogether? If he has three in one pocket but eleven total how many in this pocket?”
“Jeff has three pieces in this pile, as you can see, but 12 in total. How many are in the pile I am covering?”
Teach Algebra to Kids Tip #2- Make it interactive and fun. You want your student to be engaged and participate in the situations you present orally. Use “mystery numbers” and unknown numbers of pieces as the stand-ins for variables. Use funny sounds to represent the variables in a different order to create aural representations of equations. Let your kids make up their own examples and create funny sounds. Make it a hands-on experience whenever possible.
“I am a number. When I add 6 more, I have 13. What number am I?”
“15 plus (oooomff) makes 28. How much is (oooomff)”
“(arrrrrrgh) groups of 8 makes 32. How many groups is (arrrrrrgh)?”
Teach Algebra to Kids Tip #3- Introduce rules and properties in the student’s own language, and then move into the proper math vocabulary of “rules of equality”, “equal operations”, and “distributive property”.
Use the concepts of fairness and balance. You want the concepts to be learned before students are required to label the procedures formally.
To start talking about the concept of variables and equations, the learning sequence is extremely important here. If the developmental stages are skipped, students will try to memorize procedures and the understanding is lost. Orally introduce situations where there is an unknown quantity or mystery number, then represent the variable with a funny sound or gesture, then move on to written symbols. Avoid using letter variables until your students are ready.
In summary, algebra is the study of the arithmetic structures of our world, and is a toolbox we use to solve problems. The abstract nature of variables and equations and properties can only be understood after a proper developmental sequence of hands-on and oral examples, moving into the symbolic realm, and then progressing into pencil and paper exercises. Make it fun and interactive; allow your students to create their own examples and tap into their own curiosity. To teach algebra, embed these ideas into their basic curriculum lessons, not as a separate unit. Students of algebra need to be able to see how variables and equations are used to do any type of problem solving, and are tools to unlock mysteries in the world of numbers and patterns.
Build Student Self Confidence With an Online Private Math Tutor
How to Find the Inverse of a Function
Does Your Child Need Help with Math?
5 Ways to Become a Better Math Student
6 Characteristics to Look For in a Math Tutor
30 Trusty Tips: Learn Math Skills to Improve Grades in School
5 Ways to Boost Confidence in Math
4 Ways to Succeed With Story Problems
7 Steps NOW For Your Child To Get Good Math Grades Next School Year
Five Steps To Lift Your Child's Math Grades to A's
Math Anxiety Tips
Online Help with Geometry
Five Steps On How To Improve Your Child's Math Grades To A's
Eliminate Learning Loss with Fun Summer Math Activities
Tips for Parents: Helping Kids with Math Homework
Teaching Students Trigonometric Radians: Degrees to Radians and Back
Help with Math Equations: Using Letters in Math?
Tips, Tricks and Strategies: Help Solving Word Problems
Three Easy Ways to Help With Elementary Math
6 Word Problem Solving Strategies to Help Reduce Math Anxiety
Five Steps to Improve Mathematics Problem Solving Skills
Calvary Tutoring Services: Learn with an Online Mathematics Tutor
How to Easily and Simply Use Rules in Mathematics
Understanding the Ti 84 Solve Function
Six Strategies to Tackle Challenging Math Word Problems
Solve Compound Interest Problems using the Ti 84 Calculator
Algebra 1 Homework Help for Your Child
Learning about Fractions: Why Johnny (Jenny) Can't Do Fractions
Five Guaranteed Ways to Get an A in Math
Six Tips for Using a Graphing Calculator
Solving Real World Math Problems Using Rate, Time, and Distance
How to Use One Easy Addition Model to Solve a Billion Different Word Problems
One Easy Addition Model for a Billion Word Problems: Classification Problems
Solve Word Problems with One Easy Addition Model: Chunking Problems
One Easy Addition Model for a Billion Word Problems: Comparison Problems
One Easy Addition Model for a Billion Word Problems: Change Problems
Three Steps to Improve Math Grades
Math is Beautiful
Shattering Five Math Fear Myths
Learning Fractions is a Piece of Cake!
Math Tutor Help: Understanding YX OIC 2EZ
The Basics of Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning
How to Achieve Successful Homework Completion by Overcoming Math Fear
Math Fear: Overcoming Test Anxiety
Calculator Use Tips: Four Reasons for Students to Use Calculators
Five Magical Strategies for Increasing Math Confidence
Teaching Number Sense to Your Children is Easy with Number Counting
Counting Change: A Fun and Useful Way to Improve Math Skills!
PEMDAS Problems: Easily Simplify Equations Using PEMDAS
Math from the Positive Side: Live Online Tutoring
Overcoming Anti-Math Bias
Correct Math Operations: Putting the Cart before the Horse
7 Advantages of Choosing Online Math Tutoring for Your Student
Math for Slow Learners
How to Multiply Faster Than a Calculator
Four Steps to Follow When Solving Math Word Problems
Online Tutoring in Mathematics: Get Your Child Excited About Math
6 Word Problem Strategies to Help Reduce Math Anxiety
The Five Fundamentals for Teaching Math
Simple Strategies That Can Help Your Child Become a Math Superstar
You Can Have the Michael Jordan of Online Math Tutors
The ABC’s of Learning X, Y and Z in Algebra
Effective Math Problem Solving Strategies
4 Fun Ways to Learn Multiplications Facts
Why Math is Important for Every Child to Learn
How to Improve Math Skills for Kids
8 Ways to Be Better at Math
How to Solve Math Word Problems: Tips for Reducing Word Problem Stress
New School Year Math Preparation
Students Click Here
Free Report How To Start An Online Tutoring Business
Blueprint For Online Tutoring Success eBook
How To Start An Online Tutoring Business MP3 interview
Free Online Tutor Forum
Tutor and Grow Rich ebook
Free A+ Parenting Video Series & Handouts
Online Tutoring Service
Free Online Tutoring Demonstration
A+ Parenting DVD Collection
Discipline & Parenting Techniques
Health, Nutrition and Fitness
Learning Styles and Techniques
Managing an Online Tutoring Business
Motivating Your Child or Student
Online Tutoring Business Opportunities
Online Tutoring Defined
Test Preparation & Study Skills
Work From Home