Math isn’t really my strong point, so I have invited Carole Thompson from Math Genie to share about some of the things she recommends for helping our children to love math.
While reading and writing get great focus from educators and parental push at home, math is a crucial learning domain that is often consigned to classrooms alone.
A recent study by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted in 65 countries around the world placed US students below the global average for math skills.
Source: Washington Post
We can work with our children to help them develop a love of mathematics, and help them grow in proficiency
Start early and keep going
JD Chesloff, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care says
“Research confirms that the brain is particularly receptive to learning math and logic between the ages of 1 and 4, and that early math skills are the most powerful predictors of later learning.”
Toddlers are curious by nature and grasp new concepts really quickly.Tap into this natural curiosity and teach them basic math concepts like counting, comparisons etc. Start them out young, and continue engaging your kids in the pursuit of a mathematical education as they mature into teenagers and young adults.
Never downplay Math, even if you’re no good at it
A large reason for this national math blind spot is the fact that many parents are not very good at the subject themselves, and find it uncomfortable to tackle at anything more than elementary math. As parents we are guilty of admitting to our kids that we were bad at math ourselves. This sets a low standard for mathematical achievement before your kid and sub consciously, they get the message that it’s OK to not be good at math.
Stop doing this right away. Instead, encourage them to get better at math; tell them about the various cool things that math makes possible and create a positive attitude towards math.
Bring Math Alive, Combine it with their favorite activities
Let your child see math as more than addition, subtraction or multiplication, by showing how math knowledge is used in the real world.
Ask them to pitch in with ‘help’ in calculating change that you owe at the grocery store, teach them fractions using pizza and fruit slices, teach them weight conversions for various ingredients when you bake a cake together and so on.
For younger children, engage them in math related conversations like counting the number of vehicles on the road with number plates ending in even numbers or counting the number of black cars you pass on the road.
Show them why math matters to them, personally.
Math Games, Books and Apps
Encourage a love of math by playing games that help kids in mathematical concepts like logic, identifying patterns, comparisons, sequences etc. with popular games like Blokus, Spot It, Chess or SET. (Note from Crystal: For younger children, we love games like Snakes & Ladders, Battleship, and the Ladybug game).
Download math games from the App Store or Google Play for free and feed your tech savvy little one some math madness. Get them Lego sets, Origami sets or construction blocks to improve spatial reasoning and give them a live introduction to geometry.
There are hundreds of math books out there that are fun enough for kids to seek them out. Pick books for each mathematical concept for younger children here and choose from fiction titles that involve mathematical thinking from this list.
Teach them Music
Experts have speculated over the years about how learning to play music helps in learning math skills better. Greek mathematician Pythagoras discovered a mathematical basis for the tones of each musical instrument, explained in this video.
Playing music requires that you understand patterns in the notes, much like math requires you to deduce patterns in a problem to find solutions for it. Musical notes are classified in numbers like half note, quarter note, eighth note etc depending on how long they last. When a child is exposed to such concepts through an enjoyable medium like music, it becomes simpler for them to pick up similar concepts in math too.
Without the right guidance, kids end up viewing math as a terrifying subject with complicated principles that have little or nothing to do with getting ahead in the real world. Show your child that math can be fun and help steer them towards a brighter future.
Author Bio: Carole Thompson is Community Manager at Math Genie, which makes Math fun for kids with the help of its Abacus Math program. They have successfully tutored over 1000 students by removing their fear of Math and helping parents recognize the genius in their child.