Math U See Users: Question about Shortcuts and Concepts


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  • Heather

    I have one child in Gamma and two others in Alpha.  We flip flopped from curriculum to curriculum trying to help my oldest (now in Gamma) and MUS was the trick for her.  She has blossomed and the shortcuts such as skip counting and multiplying tricks are so fun for her.  

    My question is this.  My youngers in Alpha are having a bit of a struggle with the shortcut tricks.  For example, “Mr. 9 wants to be a ten”, so if we turn 9 + 6 into 10 + 5 it is an easy 15.  I am mathematically challenged, so learning this trick at age 39 is really cool to me, Embarassed but they are having a bit of trouble with the concept.  “Mr. 8 wants to be a 10” is even more of a struggle.  Should I keep working on this trick before moving them on, or is it not a big deal and I can assume it is taught again later on in the program.  Both kids in Alpha can add just fine it’s just the shortcut concepts they are having trouble grasping.  What do you think?


    I think one key to ‘getting it’ for some is to build build build. We also play games with the blocks to practice making 10 (1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5) So I may grab a 6 and ask who has what I need to make a 10. The child with the 4 will stand up and we make a 10 together. Then we lay out a random pile of blocks and they start making as many 10s as they can. Just different ways.

    Does it matter that they ‘get’ the shortcut? I guess it depends on the child. A math natural may not need it and will still be quick at their figuring.

    You could slowly move on, but not without consistent review of the concepts. From what I’ve read from MUS teacher guide, these concepts are more than just shortcuts, but actually challenging a more “well-rounded” mathematical understanding of the facts and math in general. Does that make sense?

    I have learned the hard way to stick with a lesson until the lesson has stuck in the child’s mind. Since children at this young age are just beginning to encounter formal math, it’s best to lay a strong foundation that can be built upon without rushing too much.



    The short cuts are not necessary.  What is  MUST is that they can tell you the answers without question.  So you say 8+2 is and they say with little to no hesitation 10.  Some love the short cuts in my house others they just fustrate them.  Some have always used the blocks, others barely touch them.  Each person learns different.  The tricks are great though especially when they get older, IMHO.  


    We tried a diff. Program before MUS, so when we got to this section it finally clicked because he got to use his “vacuum” to the smaller number to make ten. I would say don’t move on until they get it. MUS is supposed to be a master before moving on program, I’d just give him lots of play with the blocks like Tristan said.


    The “9 wants to be a 10”,and the other combinations, do not actually makes sense to me or maybe it is the way it is described. Or that is what I think (in my head as I’m “doing math”) but I don’t use that phrase. Don’t know. I have described that “trick” and my own way of thinking of it and have let my dc choose from those or whatever makes sense to them.

    I don’t use any tricks with multiplication, either. Simply stated, my 10yo becomes more confused with the trickery (shortcuts) than he does to just memorize the facts, or to visualize them in some way. I have a friend who uses a trick to keep the 9 times table straight, but it’s too confusing to me (I just have them memorized). It works for her, but to try to explain the whole process to my semi-math challenged son is incredibly frustrating. Too many steps to memorize, which is funny because he’s the “memorizing” type of kid. So that’s my goal: just have him memorize them.

    Don’t know if that helps or makes the matter worse, LOL. Some things just don’t click with everyone and I’ve learned to go with what already makes sense to them or just ask them, “Does this help or cause it to be more confusing?”

    BTW, MUS has been very helpful to my dc as well.

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