It is not an uncommon sight among parents and teachers when children throw tantrums and say, “I hate math!” The dislike of math among children is not a new issue.1 As experts in the field find ways to help children understand the subject better and fall in love with it, here are ten reasons2 that you can look out for to ensure that your child does not hate math.
Table of Contents
Choosing the Style of Teaching
There are amazing educational institutions that follow excellent syllabuses. These amazing syllabuses may be taught by excellent teachers as well. Nevertheless, the best curriculum can be rendered meaningless if the measures used to determine a student’s capacity and the curriculum as a whole don’t match the person they were intended for. In other words, picking the right techniques to cater to a child’s learning needs is one of the foundational steps that determine the child’s attachment to the subject. Being receptive to the child’s learning needs will help them sculpt their perception of the subject. The wrong style of teaching could make the child hate math or any other subject for this matter.
The Attitude of the Teacher
Teachers are privileged as they have the responsibility of introducing a subject to a child. Students tend to associate the subject with the teacher. Most passionate teachers, who may have aced the subject with relative ease, may not understand that it’s probably more difficult for some students. Having a compassionate teacher who understands the difficulty the child faces impacts the child’s preferences as well. It is the teacher who mostly helps the students to push themselves while they struggle with comprehending math concepts. So, a teacher with a nurturing attitude can help the child to not hate math.
Getting rid of the phobia of math helps students gain confidence and perform really well in the subject.
Not Understanding the Basics
“I hate the mathematics textbook,” is most likely the pent-up rage of a child struggling to keep up with their classmates. The reason why the child is not able to catch up with the other children in their class is mostly that they do not have a firm grasp of the basics. There are two things to be addressed here. The teacher or parent should ensure that the child does not compare themselves with their peers. The basics of math are what provide the foundation for the complex ideas that follow. Although the syllabus is structured to help students improve progressively, the teacher may have missed teaching some of the concepts. The child may have also skipped a lesson as they found it difficult at a certain point in time.
Inability to Memorize
Rote learning is not to be encouraged in most circumstances. In math, however, it is memorizing formulas, equations, and certain techniques that determine how quickly and efficiently a problem is solved. Memorization is a process that takes time for most children. Sometimes a few techniques act as crutches to help students memorize these math concepts. Providing a helping hand will motivate the students to memorize formulas and concepts easily. When these issues are addressed one after the other, their hate for math becomes less over time.
Not Involving Stories or Enriching the Narrative When Teaching Math
A class of 30 students has a variety of learners who find appeal in different teaching styles. While some may find the straightforward approach to teaching as productive, others need extra motivation to stay fully in touch with the subject. Association is one of the most important techniques for motivating children to learn new concepts. As adults, most of you are already accustomed to the association of most math concepts with everyday life. Yet many students may not understand why they are studying these concepts. Thus, teachers and parents should ensure that they enrich and contextualize the mathematical concepts to help the children.
Fear of Criticism
Criticism is what helps us better ourselves. For adults, criticism is what provides us an insight into another person’s perception of a topic or subject. However, children look up to adults, and more than criticism, they seek validation. This does not mean that they should not be critiqued at all. However, criticism can be delivered in the form of feedback. Criticism is sometimes delivered with a level of intensity that hinders a child’s confidence. When a child tries to seek validation by trying their best when working out a sum, wait a minute and try a different approach. Instead of crossing out the page for a wrong answer, there are a few things that you can do as a parent or a teacher. First, point out the sections and genuinely compliment them for the correct steps they have covered. Tell them that in order to get the correct answer, they only had to make a few tweaks here and there. The point is to highlight what they did right and that their mistakes are not impossible to overcome with patience, the right guidance, and practice.
Influence of Math Haters
We are living in an age where “influencing” is a profession. Children are more likely to be influenced by external perceptions rather than relying on objective thinking. This means that a person who does not like math but is really good at convincing others is more likely to turn a child away from the subject. Often, math is viewed as “boring,” “difficult,” or “for nerds” by some people; this creates a feeling of aversion in the minds of children who are just beginning to discover how much math holds for them.
The Constant Failure
Failures are more capable of teaching us more lessons than success itself. But, constant failure tends to demotivate children and form a sense of mental block that can limit a child’s perception. Especially if the child is in a classroom, there is a tendency for them to compare their results with their friends. After constantly struggling to understand a concept with no observable results, children tend to compare and blame the subject for being too difficult to comprehend. Finally, without much to look forward to, it’s easier for the child to say “I hate math” and move on to something where the pain of failure does not hold them back. Parents and teachers must make it a point to discourage children from comparing their grades with one another. They should encourage their child to focus on rectifying their own mistakes and become better with practice and encouragement!
Wrong Syllabus for the Wrong Age
In connection to the previous point, some parents think that placing the child in an environment that surpasses their present mental age will make them catch up sooner with their peers. However, there is a big difference between challenging a child’s mental prowess and setting them up for failure. Making the subject too difficult will make the students hate math and to turn this around would be a bigger challenge as there is an internal bias that’s already set in place.
Too Many Methods for Simple Calculations
Showing different methods to solve a math problem is usually encouraged. But, overwhelming them, especially in the initial phases of learning, certain concepts must be avoided. Too many methods tend to confuse the children and are one of the reasons they hate math. Usually, a different method of calculation is shown to them after the simplest method is presented to them. It should be left to the child to pick their method of preference. At the initial stages of teaching a concept, it is better to stick to a method that is generally easy. Over time, as the child becomes faster, they can be introduced to other techniques to give them an edge while attempting an exam.
So, does this article answer your question “Why does my child hate math?” Let us know in the comments below. To explore more such articles, visit BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog.
- Simmers, M. J. (n.d.). Title: It’s Not the Math They Hate Math Education / Philosophy of Mathematics UWSP Math Department.https://www.huichawaii.org/assets/simmers%2C-michael.pdf
- Why Students Hate Maths: 14 Reasons – Bscholarly. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://bscholarly.com/why-students-hate-maths/