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Multiple Choice

We’ve made some changes in our multiplication apps. We’re now providing more choice for parents helping their kids learn, through a combination of in-app or full product purchases.

More choice, more easy and effective learning, and more free time for your family.

Three is always free

Multiply Lite is the introduction to our process. If you’re curious or skeptical, Multiply Lite has the three times table for free, so you can find out just how easy and effective our apps are.

Multiply Lite also provides access to other, paid times tables from 2 to 13. You can buy them individually if there’s only one or two times tables that your child needs help with. Or you can access either Multiply 2 to 10 or Multiply Pro, full versions with multiple times tables.

Multiply 2 to 10

This app is targeted to beginning multipliers. It may also work best for students who would find it easier to have times table delivered in an ordered and progressive way. It presents all the times table from 2 to 10, and teaches each one individually.

Multiply Pro

Sometimes, even experienced multipliers need a little help mastering the times tables. Multiply Pro is a different approach to the 3 to 9 times tables for students who already have exposure to the times tables, but haven’t achieved immediate recall of all the facts yet.

We’ve compressed the times tables into two sessions, so less time is required to learn them all.

Whichever product is right for your child, you can expect easy and effective multiplication learning, and more free time for your family. Forget the homework battles around multiplication, flash cards or multiplication “games.” Your child can memorize the times tables as they drift off to sleep.

Homework and math around the globe

Here’s a small collection of stories and reports from the world of homework and math, and about parenting kids who live in that world.

A survey and subsequent follow-up done by a Parent-Teacher Association for a high school in California has led to the creation of a district homework taskforce to establish guidelines around homework. The focus is “quality, not quantity.”

Paper Management Dysfunction? I know what it looks like when your child’s backpack looks like the entire contents of a filing cabinet were dumped inside. It’s a recipe for stress for parent and student, and a potential drag on school and homework performance. Some great tips on how to work towards restoring order

The Great Canadian Math Debate continues. The Edmonton Journal is into part 6 in a series on how math is taught in Alberta grade schools. Lots of opinion from different perspectives on what is most beneficial for learning – a discovery method-based approach, or more traditional rote learning methods.

Our take – Nightlight Learning offers a great solution for balance. Learn the concepts and discover new approaches in class, but master multiplication memorization as you go to sleep.

 Intro to the series

Part 6 

 

Multiplication for free – from us!

What better time of year to give away a few gifts - with a little something extra for teachers and educators.

Multiplication for free

In keeping with the season, Nightlight Learning wants to give away 10 downloads of our easy and effective multiplication learning app, Multiply 2 to 10, for free. All the times tables from 2 to 10 at no cost to you. The first 10 people to email contact@nightlightlearning.com with the subject line Nightlight Learning Christmas Giveaway, will win. You’ll need to tell us which of the options below suits you best:

  • For iPad, iPod, or iPhone users, we can send you a promo code to use in the App Store for your free app download.
  • For Android users, a free membership for access to the 2 to 10 times tables as streaming audio from our website. Unfortunately, Google Play does not support promo codes or gifts for apps at this time. Of course, our apps are still available there, including the always free Multiply Lite.
  • Streaming audio through the membership section of our website is fully functional for all mobile devices, so let us know if you use a Blackberry or Windows device too.

Use it for yourself – or send it to a friend or family member. What better gift is there than the gift of learning?

More for teachers...

And for our favourite people, those brave souls who are committed to educating our children, we’ve got something extra to give away.

Only for teachers and educators, we have an additional 40 free downloads of Multiply 2 to 10 to share.

Maybe there’s a student in your class who needs a little extra support in multiplication? Or maybe you know a young learner just beginning their education journey, and you’d like to give them a leg up in memorizing the times tables? Tell us your story (contact@nightlightlearning.com), and why you want the free download, and we’ll send you access to the option that works best for you or the final recipient.

Give someone the gift of education this holiday – on us!

A blessed Christmas to all from Nightlight Learning.

 

Don’t be a math statistic

Canada’s standing in the international math education rankings is falling.

A recent report showed that the nation ranks 13th in mathematics in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted among 65 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Which might not sound too bad, except Canada has been slipping steadily, down six spots since 2006. This slippage was consistent across all the provinces, and was also reflected in a drop in the number of high achievers in the testing.

What’s caused this drop?

The debate continues, but some point to a 1990s swing in educational philosophy towards “discovery learning” – an approach leaving students free to solve problems based on their own unique learning style. It’s a very equitable method, and accommodates learners from all social and economic backgrounds, but is often at the expense of more traditional approaches that emphasize practice and mastering foundational skills.

Like multiplication.

A telling quote in the story:

“But Anna Stokke, an associate professor in the department of math and statistics at the University of Winnipeg, argues changes are needed. Prof. Stokke is part of a group that launched a reform movement to restore some of the basics into math education. “The education culture needs to change. Educators need to recognize the importance of practice, hard work and mastering basic skills early on,” she said.”

As reported in another Globe and Mail story: “Even before these latest PISA results were known, ministers (of education across the country) had identified improving mathematics skills as a major focus for our education systems.”

Don’t be a  math statistic. Help your child master foundational skills in multiplication.

 

Allowance and financial literacy for kids

My 11-year-old son recently spent just over $300 on a remote-controlled car, and I was pleased about it.

Not happy about having another toy cluttering up the house – although this one is a few steps above the typical toy store RC car. Not even happy about the spending decision he made. I could’ve pointed out dozens of things he would have been better served doing with that kind of cash (like saving it for important purchases later in life).

What I am very pleased about is the process that got him to that point.

He was goal-focused. It took him about a year and a half to save up for that car. Allowance, birthday money, Christmas money, and the odd performance incentives we offered him were all (virtually) dutifully saved to achieve his dream of ownership of this particular vehicle.

He had waffled from time-to-time on what make and model to buy, but the ultimate goal of quality RC car ownership was always there.

He was willing to delay gratification. He spent some time projecting his potential income into various points in the future, and soon realized that if he really wanted to be able to buy his dream RC car, he was going to have to make some sacrifices. His situation did not allow for regular dips into cash to satisfy short-term cravings – candy, lesser-value toys, the latest middle-school craze. He had to be a diligent saver to reach his goal.

And we consistently declined to extend him any credit – any money he wanted to spend had to be fully his first.

He learned about money management. We used Excel to make his financial projections. At one point while we were tinkering around with different scenarios, he wondered aloud if we could turn me and this Excel program into his own personal banking situation. His allowance wouldn’t come in cash, but as an entry in the spreadsheet. His birthday money would be handed to me, and I would add it to his digital stash.

He realized that if he had cash in hand, he’d look for ways to spend it (sometimes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). But if he just allowed it to accumulate without even seeing it, he’d reach his goal much more quickly. He showed an insight into his own weaknesses, and a willingness to mitigate them far beyond what I expected.

There were a few missteps along the way. His RC vehicle obsession pushed him to make a mid-term purchase of a lesser RC vehicle ($60-ish bucks, and has been run all of an hour or two in the past year) that when pushed, he would admit was a bit of a spending mistake.

But those kinds of mistakes are all part of the financial literacy learning process. Better making those now and realizing it, then not being aware of those traps later in life when they have much more serious implications.

He has learned lessons about personal finance that I didn’t until I was much, much older than 11.

In our home, we adopted a Share, Save, Spend allowance program. All money he gets is split up into these three categories. Share goes to a top-of-mind or favourite charity. Save goes into a real bank, and reserved for larger purchases later in life – education, car, home. Spend is what’s available to our child.

We don’t have hard rules about what per cent goes in what category. Our son has a naturally generous and giving nature, so we don’t need to push the Share component. He regularly impresses me with his willingness to give to those in need. Every few months, or after a particularly big windfall (his grandparents are usually good for a couple of twenties around birthday time), I will exercise my parental authority to put some of his money into his bank account to Save. There are some complaints, but it’s pretty minimal.

It’s the Spend component that was the sole source of his funds for his big purchase.

And I believe our allowance program gave him the opportunity to learn important lessons along the way.

One of the most direct ways your child can develop financial literacy is in managing their own money.

There has been much debate among child development experts and parents as to how best to go about this. There are some who believe there should be no money provided, no matter how it’s presented. Try tell that to my son. Or to me. I’ve seen first-hand the lessons my son is learning about money management.

Most of the contention revolves around whether children should just be given a regular some of money with no strings attached, or whether whatever money a child receives should be tied to household tasks.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, my son’s example shows there are definite benefits to giving your child the opportunity to make decisions about money.

The other main question is – how much?

This is a very individual decision, based on personal values, and family circumstances. Some tie a dollar value to a child’s age, or to the value of the tasks completed around the house.

My belief is that it needs to be substantial enough to allow your child the ability to make meaningful decisions about saving, spending and sharing. A dollar each week is not going to go far in either of these three categories. If a child is going to develop money management skills, there needs to be the means to make impactful decisions to him or her personally.

Unfortunately, my son is already contemplating saving for another, even larger RC vehicle purchase.

 

Financial literacy for kids

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. We want to help promote financial literacy for kids.

A good two-part definition of financial literacy comes from getsmarteraboutmoney.ca.

Financial literacy is the set of skills and knowledge that allow you to understand:

    • The financial principles you need to know to make informed financial decisions, and
    • The financial products that impact your financial well-being.

We all want the best for our children – emotional, spiritual, physical and financial. We spend a lot of time talking to our children about school, friendships and the like, but how engaged are we in helping our children develop financial literacy?

The BMO Financial Literacy Poll conducted by Pollara in March of 2013, found that 96 per cent of Canadians felt schools should be doing more to teach children and teenagers about money. The same poll found only 18 per cent of parents spend a lot of time discussing money and financial matters with their kids.

A Harris/Decima survey commissioned by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) in 2010 approached these questions a little differently. Their results had 89 per cent of respondents saying parents have a lot of responsibility for children’s financial education, and 78 per cent said they had tried to teach their children about money – with varying degrees of perceived success.

One more survey…

The CICA Youth Financial Literacy Study 2011, conducted by Harris/Decima, measured the financial literacy of Canadians aged 16-22. Nine out of ten respondents believe that parents should be good role models for responsible financial decisions.

Do you want to talk more with your kids about money? Do you want to be a good financial role model?

All the literature accompanying the release of these surveys indicated that many parents want to do more to help develop their child’s financial literacy, but are unsure how best to do it. Here’s a few links to help get you started. Look for more posts on this blog about some specific issues around kids and finance.

  • The Canadian Foundation for Economic Education has resources for both home and school to support the frequency and quality of discussions with kids about money.
  • The Investor Education Fund is a non-profit organization founded by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help you make better money decisions. There’s lots of useful information here, including a section dedicated to helping you teach your kids about money.
  • The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada host a site with a number of resources geared to helping better financial decision making. Included is a blog by a magazine journalist who journals on some of the topics and issues she deals with helping her own child develop financial literacy.
  • Learning Money with Leo is a free iPad app provided by the Royal Bank of Canada to help three- to six-year olds engage in games and activities related to money.

And if developing multiplication skills is one way your child can move further down the path to financial literacy – we can help.

 

The Parent Toolkit

It's a wonderful thing when common sense and research agree. That's clearly the case with respect to the positive effect parental involvement has on a child's scholastic success. Research has demonstrated this repeatedly, and we all know it intuitively. The link lists a number of the benefits research has demonstrated: better grades, more homework completion, higher self-esteem, greater achievement. We all want these things for our kids. We want to help them develop an appreciation for reading and the arts, to explore the natural world around them, to learn their times tables.

How parents should get involved is not always so clear. What's a reasonable level of involvement? What's expected of my child? How can I best support those expectations?

Earlier this month, Education Nation (of NBC News) released an excellent resource for parents to help answer just those kinds of questions. The Parent Toolkit is intended to "help you navigate your child’s journey from pre-kindergarten through high school. It is designed to help you track and support progress at each stage."

The Toolkit provides benchmarking and parent tips to help support learning for each grade from K to 12. It's based on curriculum being launched in many states in the US, but is still certainly useful for parents with school age kids no matter where they live.

The tips for parents are both general and specific, easy to understand, and easy to implement. It helps make the responsibility we share in getting involved in our children's education simpler.

It doesn't always mean presiding over homework time, checking school bags for "forgotten' test papers or important correspondence. (Sometimes those things are important too!)

It does mean connecting relevant learning to everyday activity. The Parent Toolkit helps with that. Check it out, and let us know what you think.

 

 

Parent tries 8th grade homework load

We’ve all heard it. “I’ve got too much homework!”

A Manhattan father, Karl Taro Greenfeld, decided he had seen his 8th grade daughter work late into the night too many times. He had heard enough complaints. He set out to walk a week in her shoes. For five days last year, he worked side-by-side with his daughter, doing all the same homework she had been assigned at school.

One benefit of homework is how it presents an opportunity for parents to become more directly involved in a child’s schooling. For Greenfeld – it meant as much as three and a half hours a night of direct involvement, and a new empathy for some of the challenges his daughter faced.

I don’t recall having much homework at all in the elementary grades. Except for some major projects and studying for tests, much of my after school time was my own. Street hockey, running around with neighbourhood kids. Reading. Kids in grade school today seem to be facing a much different situation.

A well-written (he’s a writer) diary of Greenfeld’s experience was published recently in The Atlantic, a U.S. national magazine devoted current events, literature, technology, culture, and foreign affairs.  You can read it here (NOTE: some drug use references). He recounts anecdotes of his involvement in the homework issue at his child’s school. It’s liberally interspersed with commentary on the state of education and homework.

“My daughter has the misfortune of living through a period of peak homework,” Greenfeld says. He quotes several educators and researchers who have identified broad cycles in attitudes towards homework in school systems, and the resulting volumes of it handed out.

That explains some of my experience – I must have been in grade school during a lull in the great homework cycle.

A telling take-away for Greenfeld from the experience was his daughter’s advice: memorization, not rationalization. In other words, don’t try to understand the work, just commit it to memory.

Are you facing challenges around homework volume for your children? Have an opinion about the “homework wars?” Please comment below.

One thing for sure, if multiplication learning is part of your child’s homework routine – we’ve got you covered.

 

It’s go time!

It's go time. Nightlight Learning is open for business.

Our mission is to help families find more free time by providing easy-to-implement, stress-free, and effective  learning tools for children. Our vision is to be a source of informative and useful content related to education and children, and the challenges parents face helping their kids learn.

We come into the picture after school, when the kids are at home, and parents are expected to help them learn fundamental concepts to support their educational development and progress at school. Our products take the stress and time out of those expectations. With Nightlight Learning, your kids can learn effectively and easily as they drift off to sleep.

It's go time for Nightlight Learning, and that means more free time for you.