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TheAttachedMama

How do I start in math competitions?

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Hi Everyone,

 

I have two children in 4th and 5th grades (ages 9 and 10).  (Both using and loving Singapore 5a and 5b this year.)    They both do well in math, but I wouldn't call them especially gifted.   They are both typical kids who happen to enjoy problem-solving, math, and a friendly competition.  

 

SO---I would love to get them started in math competitions.   I think they both might like the challenge, and it would give them a great goal to work towards this year (or next.)    We don't have any math teams or clubs in my area that we can find.  (We live in the Columbus, Ohio area btw in case you know of something.)   I wouldn't mind organizing something myself.  I may not be the BEST or most qualified person to coach a group.  But I am a living, breathing person who is at least willing to try.  (Before kids I was an electrical engineer...so I am not math phobic.  I just often get stumped on how to solve these tougher problems myself!)

 

My questions are:

1)  What math competitions would my kids be eligible for?  Are there any that are more fun than others?

2)   Could we / Should we compete solo?   Do kids enjoy a team more?  If so, how do you find members?   

3)  Any advice on specific resources to prep for these competitions?

 

 

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Some old threads with information

 

Competition Math http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/552618-competition-math/

Starting a MOEMS team? http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/602697-starting-a-moems-team/

Tell me everything about having a MathCounts Team http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/510247-mathcounts-contest-team-prep/

Taking AMC as a homeschooler http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/563800-taking-amc-as-a-homeschooler/

Continental Math League (also other subjects)-deadline Oct 14 http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/527462-continental-math-league-also-other-subjects-deadline-oct-14/

 

ETA:

My kids are rather individualistic so they only participate in individual competitions. Also my DS11 is slower in speed so speed round competitions are a no go.

Edited by Arcadia
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I'm sure that lots of people here have a lot more knowledge about this than I do, but one easy way to start is Math Kangaroo.  They have a test/competition every March, and you can just go to their website, find a center near you (hopefully!), and register.  (I believe registration for this coming year doesn't start until maybe October 1.)  Practice tests are available online.  

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Math Kangaroo is an individual test for grades 1-12

CML (Continental Math League) starts in grade 2 and has 3 or 4 tests per year, taken individually. You can sign up as an individual homeschooler, or as some kind of class/team/school.

MOEMS has a grade 4-6 division and a grade 6-8 division, generally part of a team at school.

Mathcounts is grades 6-8, usually a team thing but you can do some parts individually I understand. They have regional chapter competitions, then state, then national.

AMC has AMC8, AMC10, AMC12 where the number is the highest grade you can be in. Individual. Some really advanced kids take AMC8 as 5th or 6th graders maybe.

 

My oldest is going into 3rd, so personal experience only with the first two. For I think all of them, there are some free example problems on their websites and you can buy more tests/problems/answers. There are others, too, but these I think are the most well known. I agree with PP that MK is a nice one to start with.

 

If you want to "learn" more than just doing problems, I think that George Lenchner's book Creative Problem Solving in School Mathematics is recommended for middle school grades, and then for the AMC tests, I think kids use the AOPS books and others on that site.

 

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My questions are:

1)  What math competitions would my kids be eligible for?  Are there any that are more fun than others?

2)   Could we / Should we compete solo?   Do kids enjoy a team more?  If so, how do you find members?   

3)  Any advice on specific resources to prep for these competitions?

 

I'll add in response to #2:  Yes, it is more fun to compete as a team than to go solo.  MathCounts in particular does a great job of emphasizing the team aspect.  Since that doesn't start until 6th grade, you can build up to it by doing MOEMS year round: weekly or monthly, whatever you have time for.  Then as students age out of MOEMS you can encourage them to join your MC team.  

 

Recruitment for math competitions can be hard.  Sometimes I'm bending over backward and doing everything I can to accommodate students just so I can have a 4 person team for MathCounts.  

 

Regarding #3, after Singapore Math 5, you can switch to AoPS Pre Algebra.  Much of their problem sets use questions from old competitions.  Finally, the best way to prep for these competitions is to do old exams.  

 

HTH!

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I'm another Mathcounts is fun person. You can probably see info posted my me in past posts. My son started as an individual in Mathcounts in 6th grade, the next year we had 3, then four. This past year was my 7th year and I had a new problem of having more kids than I could take - Mathcounts allows 10 from each "school" so I had to pick 10 from the 16  homeschooled kids that were invading my home weekly to do math. It has spread by word of mouth and has been a lot of fun. If you have at least four individuals, then you can sign up as a Mathcounts club and they send some really cool (free) materials to do.

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Another vote to start off with Math Kangaroo, which is the most "nice" of the competitions, as I understand it.

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