Getting our kids to focus on this often dreaded subject can be, simply put, a nightmare.
Here’s the good news: children are impressionable and open to change. And there are ways to help them see math in a new light. With the right steps, parents can make practicing math exciting.
Here are some tips and tricks to help your child become math confident!
1. Look in Your Own Math-Mirror
We get it, math class isn’t for everyone. But sharing with your child things that have helped you in your learning journey is one way to inspire them on their learning journey. For example, maybe your personal attitude toward math would have been different if you had gotten outside help, or spent more time studying or even been told you were good at math.
By sharing this insight, you open a healthy dialogue with your child where they can share their own fears and concerns about math. It can also help them realize that they aren’t alone in these fears and that there are steps they can take to move forward and be more successful.
2. Help them, help themselves.
What happens when your child, stuck on what feels like an insurmountable math problem, gets frustrated? Do you quickly tell them the answer to alleviate their stress? Or maybe you walk them through the steps needed to figure out how to get to the answer?
Sure, those are both viable short-term fixes. But choose those moments carefully. By allowing your child the time to figure out the tough math problems on their own, you’re not just giving them the confidence to attack a challenging problem, you are also helping them build resiliency.
Contrary to what many of us have been taught, the goal isn’t to get the answers as fast as possible. The reality is that it’s important to let kids feel comfortable being stuck at a single math problem until they figure out the solution. This helps build the resiliency that gives them the confidence to attempt more challenging math problems going forward. And the best part about resiliency is that it doesn’t just help us succeed in math, it can be used in many aspects of life.
3. Use math every day… In every way
For younger kids, have them help you count individual pieces of fruit, cereal, or chips as you place them into their bowl. As they get older, after they eat a few pieces of their counted-out snack, have them count the ones that are remaining. You’ve just taught them the basics of subtraction. Add a few more pieces and then count all of them again: that’s addition.
You can even cut an apple in half and teach them the basics of fractions. Because two halves of an apple equal one whole apple. ½ + ½ = 1. What happens when you cut one of the halves in half? Or what if they eat one of the halves? How many halves do they have left? Now that’s some tasty math fun!
If your child has to create a cover for their textbooks, have them measure the book’s sides and then the length of standard brown paper in centimeters and inches to make sure it’ll fit. Or estimate how long it’ll take to walk from your house to their bus stop and then time it. When filling their lunch water bottle, have them use a measuring cup. Measurements, time, estimates, and cups: these are all math activities that can help them feel more math confident.
As they get older, consider opening a savings account and have them look at each monthly statement to learn about the power of compound interest. Teaching your child the value of incremental and consistent savings and financial investment is both a math lesson all wrapped up in a fun activity!
4. Learn new ways to teach math
Do you ever look at your child’s math homework and think, “That’s not how I learned it.” You’re not alone. The good news is that math is a ‘language’ that has never changed. But how it’s taught has. Don’t panic. There are many resources to help you through this. First, look at your child’s textbook for guidance. If possible, look over the problems and answers listed in the book. Also, look over any homework or tests your child has brought home to help figure out what is being asked. Also, consider setting up a time to talk with your child’s math teacher to get resources that will help guide you on any new ways of teaching math.
5. What’s homework got to do with it?
Despite creative approaches to teaching math, homework is still essential. So, once again, consider reaching out to the teacher to get a better understanding of how they teach in class so you can help keep your child engaged during homework and studying. Taking an active part in their homework will help you understand what your child is learning and how they are learning it. Make sure to communicate with the teacher if your child needs extra help. Also consider asking them to identify a homework buddy for your child.
6. Why? How? Math?
Sometimes all your child wants is the answer to their math problem. Showing the “steps” to solve a problem can be tedious. But skipping this crucial part of math not only could effect their grade, but more importantly, it doesn’t set your child up for future math success. Understanding the “why” and “how” of math problems not only gives children a better chance at getting the right answer, it also opens the door to solving future problems.
Show your child the value of the process of completing math problems by reminding them that by taking these steps they will become faster at solving problems (who doesn’t want extra playtime?). They’ll make fewer errors, and, ultimately, it will make math seem so much easier and more fun.
7. Old school math, future solutions
Let’s not kid ourselves. Finding any positive aid that helps your child become more math confident is an invaluable resource. And sometimes what old school math anxiety needs is the help of modern-day methods. Online math classes such as BYJU’S FutureSchool’s Create With Math uses hands-on projects and a play-based approach to help make learning math fun with the goal of fostering a positive math mindset. BYJU’S curriculum helps your child understand why we do math, allowing your child to build a strong foundation of concepts, solve complex problems, and build connections between math and its real-world application.
8. Lights, Camera… Math!
There are several films that show the importance of math and it may be worth showing your children to help spark a bit of inspiration. For example, prodigy-inspired films like Gifted, historical features about mathematicians who changed the world like Hidden Figures, or even science fiction films like The Martian, help to open your child’s mind to the possibility of pursuing math as an exciting career.
So, remember, there are many ways to help your child create a positive math attitude. And just like you may encourage your children to embrace their passions and hobbies, and develop important life skills, you have the power to help guide them to feel math confident and even excited when it comes to learning new math concepts.
At BYJU’S FutureSchool, we celebrate learning in all its forms and would love to help your child expand their mathematical mindset. We teach math, coding, and music (with an expanded curriculum on the way). Regardless of your child’s age or knowledge, there’s a course that’s perfect for them. Check out our website to browse our catalog and sign up for a FREE trial.