“How do I get my child to love math?” is a common concern of many parents. We want our child to do well in Math. They don’t really need to be talented in music, sports, or arts, but they should be good at math. Why?
Simply put, math is all about solving problems, and mastering it teaches us how to think critically.
However, most parents are not confident in how to helped their child’s learning, other than forcing or encouraging them to do homework and extra practice drilling calculations and formulas.
We believe that forcing your child to drill math quickly kills the love of learning. Yet math should be enjoyable! We have 4 principles to share that you can use in daily life to help your child love math.
Principle 1: Make it hands-on
Show your child how math relates to her life by pointing it out in the world around them. Math is all around us, real and tangible. It’s not an abstract concept; we can see it and touch it.
You can use everyday objects to teach kids about numbers, addition, fractions, or even more complex concepts such as proportions, ratios and algebra. For example, ask your child to count how many mailboxes or cars while driving down the street, play with numbers while cooking, or play with your kids to place numbers on an interactive number line.
Look for opportunities wherever you are: At the supermarket, see how many apples you can buy with $10. While waiting at a restaurant, have your child estimate how much the bill will be. And don’t forget about patterns either! Look for things like geometric wallpaper, tiles or even bricks.
Kids naturally love counting, sorting, comparing, figuring out patterns… but they often freeze when it’s labeled “math”.
Principle 2: Make it fun
Once you show your child how much fun math can be, she’ll gain an enthusiasm about learning. Once she enjoys learning, nothings can stop her. Just playing games, having great math resources, reading aloud and noticing real math is everywhere. Many kids are drawn to games or interactive activities, especially when there’s an element of competition with a parent or sibling.
You can joke around to help children more relax and enjoy. Use humor and games to keep kids moving along, laugh when something doesn’t go according to plan, and problem-solve out loud when something becomes stressful. Make it so fun that they don’t even realize they’re learning.
Incorporate your child’s interests too. Is your child a football fan? Record statistics. Calculate averages. Is your child into fashion? Visit a fabric store and calculate the cost of materials to create a dream design. If your child is into computers, find a coding class. Building is your child’s thing? Design and build a birdhouse or table together.
In life, measuring, geometry, and algebra all overlap with one another. Just because we are talking about numbers doesn’t mean that we can not jump to shapes. Let the conversations flow from whatever activity you are doing. We often talk about counting numbers first, but then find ourselves asking how many sides does a cube have? How many corners? When you add another block to the counting block, now how many corners does it have? Your children may have questions relating to algebra, geometry, or even physics. Go with the flow!
There are many situations in everyday life that can cover a lot of Math topics. For example we play with fractions when cooking yummy pancakes. We might start with measuring ingredients for one serving, but then ask a challenge question, “How much do we need to make pancakes for 10 people?”.
Principle 4: Be patient
As parents, we want to rush to the answer, and we often find ourselves getting really impatient. But fight that urge to tell your child the answer!
Genuine learning and building confidence requires time, and often struggling to think and trial their own solutions. Let your child generate her own solutions to the problem, even if it takes 30 minutes for a question you think is simple. Let them feel free and safe to make mistakes, and focus your energy to provide leading questions, but not answers.
Children are naturally curious and inquisitive. They observe, explore, question, and wonder, and by doing so, learn. As parents and teachers, our must important function is to develop the confidence that children can tackle any math problem they encounter, and these principles will help develop both a fluency and a love of math. Remember, make it concrete and fun, while being patient and open-minded.