Hey Teachers, can you please make Maths more fun for my child?
This question is pretty much thought of and asked by most of the parents, especially if their child shows a little less excitement and enthusiasm toward maths or in some cases the parents themselves had shown a little excitement and enthusiasm toward the subject during their school days. Parents also wonder what they can do to help their child with math if it is not their area of expertise.
This article addresses parents and children from classes 4 to 8. It deals with the frequently experienced stumbling blocks in mathematics and a few simple ways conquer the phobia that students have toward maths.
Let’s start with a sample problem
Question 1. The salary of a clerk was increased by 7%. If his present salary is Rs.8025, what was it before the increment?
Most often I have heard children thinking aloud “Why do I even have to know how much this person’s salary is?” or “What is the benefit of me finding out the salary of this person?” and then it is “Anyway, because I have no choice, I will give it a try.”
100*7/8025, 8025 * 7/100, 100 * 107/8025, 100 * 8025/107??
The next set of questions that a student can ask are, “If I solve this, will all the problems be of the same type? Why is it so different for every problem? Which numbers here should be multiplied and which should be divided?”
Question 2. Solve for x : (2x-1/3) + 1 = (x-2)/3 + 2.
Questions that a student might ask, “Why should I solve for x? What is the purpose of doing so? Where should I start first? I can’t even memorize the steps because every problem is so different? Will they ask the same problem in the exam?”
If you have such questions popping up in your mind, don’t fret. These are common misconceptions about maths which can be cleared by a little bit of understanding of the different ways in which maths works.
Before looking at the different ways by which we can clear our misunderstanding with the subject of maths, you have to understand and please believe that math is not as difficult as it is made out to be. Though it is true that some children are naturally talented with numbers, while some other could be good in other subjects which requires less mathematical ability like Biology, Drawing, Art, Music, Arts, and Sports. So, here are a few workable solutions to make maths easier for children. Start off early and as a parent instil in your children the curiosity for maths. Tell them that maths is easy because if you tell them maths is difficult, they will build an apprehension for the subject which will only result in them having a fear toward the subject from their younger days and this fear will only grow as they move on to higher classes.
Look at Math beyond textbook and problems
If your child has just started off with numbers, then you can help increase their cognitive skills by helping them with small puzzles or math games and working their way up. You can teach fractions when you eat pizza! Finding patterns, solving clues, playing treasure hunts helps to lay a base for an aptitude for math. Show them that maths is all around us, part-and-parcel of our everyday life. Enable your children to start seeing it.
Example: When you see “END OF SEASON SALE: 50% OFF ON ALL PURCHASES”, it is all about discount, marked price and selling price. The next time you go shopping be it vegetables or clothes or you are at a bank, it is about Cost Price, Selling Price, Marked Price, Profit, Loss, Discount.
Play this math game: Think of a number. Then multiply it by 6. Add 5 to it. What do you get? Let’s say 53.
Ask your child to guess the number. Isn’t it 6x + 5 = 53?
Perceive all geometrical concepts such as parallel lines, perpendicular lines, angles, shapes, 2D, 3D, area, volume etc., in your house itself. Containers in the kitchen, water bottles, furniture, buckets, your carpet in the drawing room, windows, doors etc., all emphasise different geometrical concepts.
Multiplication tables are a must know
All of us have gone through the phase of dread where we had to mug up the multiplication table, some without even understanding the logic behind it. Show them the logic behind the numbers, it will help them appreciate the logic behind multiplication. As a teacher, I have very frequently come across children who are not familiar with multiplication tables. And that makes problems seem lengthy and tough. I would strongly advice that children should know tables from 1-20, but if that’s too tough for your child, do insist on at least 1-12 multiplication tables. Learning Multiplication goes a long way in making maths easy.
You could easily make learning tables so much fun. I do this with my seven year old son and he simply loves it. We together and play this math game –
We tell tables when climbing up stairs and for every correct answer we move 5 steps up the staircase and for every wrong answer we move down 2 steps together. And we see who reaches up first. Not to mention the other gifts – ice-cream, pizza, money in the piggy bank etc., for saying his tables correctly. Write the tables down on strips of paper and stick in places where you would see it every day – study table, dressing tables, wardrobes etc. Let the numbers register in your child’s mind.
Practice, Practice and Practice
Enough has been said about importance of ‘Practice’ and I am only reiterating. Moreover, since Maths is a progressive subject, it just needs more dedicated and focussed practice. Divide a chapter into small achievable parts, spend about 45 minutes or so everyday doing problems, review and redo. The key here is ‘Practicing’ and not reading. Work out problems and see success every day. This will greatly boost your confidence.
Seeking external help
If math is a grey area for you to help your child with, you can always look for external tools. There are many new age apps that helps with step by step building quantitative skills. Download such apps and encourage your child to use these learning apps. Watch YouTube videos which explain mathematical problems in great detail and step by step methods. You can go through a few math tutorial channels on YouTube and subscribe to the ones that upload videos that teach the most effective techniques and methods to solve math problems. Children in the present day and age are anyways into mobile phones and computers, so why not use this technology for you and your child’s advantage and make practising maths interesting to them.
As you have read the steps, I am sure that now you do realise that well maths can actually be interesting if taught and learnt in a more practical manner as well and not just in the theoretical way. I always encourage parents and children alike to adopt these ways so that not only will this be fun, it will also remove the phobia that children have toward this very fascinating subject of mathematics.
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