# Using Shortcuts

Teaching children to use shortcuts to solve word problems is entirely
different from teaching them to make models. On the previous tab I encouraged you to
**explicitly teach your children how to model the various types of word problems**. **But shortcuts
are something that they should figure out on their own.**

### Why Should I Let My Children Figure Out Shortcuts On Their Own?

If you want your children to be good problem solvers, across all disciplines, in novel situations, you must give them opportunities to figure things out on their own. To the extent that you show children shortcuts you are depriving them of the opportunity to practice problem solving.

### How Can I Get My Children To Figure Out Shortcuts On Their Own?

Here are some videos that illustrate the teaching
of (simple) shortcuts.

The following is very general advice. I think that the best
way for you to understand

- what shortcuts are, and
- my methods for helping children to learn them,

is to view the videos.

- Look for opportunities to pose word problems – they are all around. How much change should we get? How many miles is that altogether? How many more plates do we need to set the table? If we each should get 2, how many do we need altogether? If the 3 of you share these, how many will each of you get? With opportunities like these there is little need for stand-alone lessons.
- Lots of practice isn’t necessary. One
or two problems per day, or even fewer, is more than sufficient.

- Encourage your child to “think out loud.” It is important for children to learn to articulate their reasoning.
- Try to understand what they are
doing and help them by supporting their reasoning.
**Don’t have them solve the problems the way you would.** - There is nothing wrong with
**suggesting**a particular shortcut. The problem is with**requiring**that shortcut. If your child doesn’t understand your suggestion, let it go - it is only a suggestion. You do not want your children practicing procedures that they don’t understand. That has nothing to do with mathematics. - From time to time your child may be completely stuck – apparently unable to think of any way to solve the problem. In that case, remind him or her about making a model. It is really important that children know that modeling and one-by-one counting is allowed.