In agriculture or gardening there is the concept of the three sisters. When corn, beans, and squash are grown together they mutually help and support one another like three sisters. One could think of negative numbers, fractions, and multiplication tables as a sort of three sisters as well. These mathematical three sisters are mutually interdependent and interact with one another in virtually every math problem. If your son or daugher is between 5th and 9th grades or older and they struggle with math, ask them if they know these three concepts:
1. All of their multiplication tables up to 12 x 12.
2. How to add, subtract, multiply, or divide using positive and negative numbers.
3. How to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and mixed numbers.
Oftentimes, students never really master these concepts and when they go on in math they are constantly faced with these three and are then stumped by problems that have these components to them. When helping students if I find that they don't know one, two, for even all three we take a little tangent and I explain how to understand and work with these sisters and give them some practice to do on their own until they've got it down. So ask your child about these three concepts...but don't mention the three sisters because they won't know what you are talking about. That analogy is really just for gardeners.
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