Recognizing Pattern: The Useful Ability in Doing Math Problems

          Have you in a situation where your children need much time doing math worksheet which you think is quite easy to do by them as they’ve done and practiced it many times? The worksheet example is like in the picture below!

Addition Worksheet

In the worksheet above, children can actually answer  some additions without having to add all of the addition one by one. Some children can do it after they do addition at least  three numbers. They can predict the answer of the next addition. It’s because they figure out that the answer for the next addition is the next number in the number sequence. Hence, there are some children who can’t make the prediction. Though they have done that kind of worksheet many times. We may wonder why they can’t do that. If this happens to our children, there’s one possibility why they are not able to do it. It’s because they can’t recognize the pattern in the worksheet.

          Children, who can predict the answer of the next question, realize (after they do the addition at least 3 or 4 numbers (It depends on children’s ability)) that there is pattern in the worksheet above. The pattern is the sequence of numbers on the column after plus sign. So, when they have to add one more to the the sequence of numbers, the answer is basically the sequence of numbers too. On the contrary, children who can’t predict the answer, do not realize the pattern. And this may lead to a question why they can’t see the pattern. There are some possibilities reasons for that:

  1. They are still lack in the ability of recognizing pattern which may be caused by the lack of chance to practice recognizing and making pattern in previous age.
  2. The lack of recognizing pattern of abstract thing. Number is something abstract as it actually a symbol which represent the amount of concrete things. Recognizing the pattern of symbol is more difficult than recognizing the pattern of concrete things as it requires more complex thinking process.

          If the situation above happens to our children, do not force them to exercise the worksheet over and over. It’s better if we ask them to do activities which will improve their ability in recognizing pattern first. Here are the activities children can do:

  1. Ask children to play the toys which will make them able to practice recognizing and making pattern.

Abacus Lacing Beads

In the beginning, we ask them to follow the pattern we make. Start from the simple pattern. For example: arrange the beads with the two beads pattern consist of red & yellow beads. After our children have been able to follow the simple pattern, ask them to follow difficult pattern. Keep doing it until they are able to recognize kinds of pattern. Then, ask them to create their own patterns. This will strengthen their ability in recognizing pattern as it requires more thinking process. They have to relate the knowledge they have and combine it with the recognizing pattern ability to make their own pattern. So, they not only become a pattern follower only but a creator as well. The creating process activates more neurons in the brain. The more neurons are activated, the more brain is stimulated. And this makes children absorb and learn more.

2. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to guess what comes next by seeing the pattern. At first, give them worksheet which shows the concrete things such as animal, shapes, daily things, etc.

Pattern Worksheet

3. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to write symbols such as letters & numbers.

       Letter Pattern Worksheet     Number Pattern Worksheet

4. Ask children to do the worksheet which requires them to recognize patterns in math such as fill in the missing number worksheet, skip counting, or other math worksheets which the level difficulty is still below the addition worksheet as in the example above.

Math Worksheet

          The activities above are arranged in steps from easy to difficult. Ask children to do the activities from the very basic which is very important to do. So, we can check the root of children’s lack ability. When we think our children have mastered the basic step well, that’s the time we can move on to the next step. Let them master it before continuing to another step. By mastering each steps, children won’t miss any recognizing patterns exercise.

          When children’s ability in recognizing pattern is better, it will be easier for them to recognize pattern in math problem which they will see not only in addition, but further math learning such as subtraction, multiplication, division and many more. So, come on! Let’s ask our children to do many activities which will improve their ability in recognizing patterns as it will be useful in doing math problems. 🙂

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