By the time middle school rolls in, mathematics slowly begins to rank as one of the less preferred subjects in many children’s views. Formulae and algorithms aren’t always approached with the level of excitement other subjects like language or the arts. Quite often, this is because it is a subject that requires individuals to make mistakes and learn from them. This constant need for trial and error to solve an equation can get tiresome. It can also take a toll on a child’s confidence and can make them shy away from the subject.
At the end of the day, the primary takeaway from learning is that each subject should be approached with the same love and curiosity as the other. So here are a few tips and notes to help improve the experience of mathematics for your children.
Try, Try, Try Again: As mentioned earlier, math is a subject that requires multiple rounds of practice and learning from mistakes. That’s why it is vital that children learn the importance of a challenge. They need to learn that there are certain tasks and lessons that need practice and perseverance. More importantly, having to do something over and over again is not a measure of their intelligence or skills in any way it is more about persistence and patience. Aid in your child in understanding how much more fulfilling it is to answer a challenging question than a relatively simple one – and let them enjoy the reward that follows honest effort. The lesson of constantly learning from our mistakes and never giving up is a concept that even applies outside the math classes.
Role Modelling: Many adults do admit that they disliked Math – and their children tend to intuitively absorb this dislike. That is why we (as parents and educators) need to consciously promote a growth mindset rather than our own thoughts about the subject. We can surely help our children learn and develop by sharing our experience with it, yet in a very unbiased manner. Let us be mindful about showcasing with confidence and enthusiasm how math is very much a part of our daily lives – from memorizing a phone number, fractioning the ingredients of a dish, to calculating a bill. More importantly, remember to show your children how it is okay to stumble every now and then with a math-related task. This helps with reducing any performance-related anxiety for them.
Game Time: Contextualizing a math lesson through games and activities can really help to boost your child’s enthusiasm and interest in the subject. This could either be through a game of monopoly or snakes & ladders, or even in the form of household tasks and stories. For example, ‘How many pairs of forks and spoons should I take if there four people eating dinner?” – and let your child work those numbers!