Math is very often consider the most difficult and least loved subject, in both elementary and high school.
Children who love math and future math wizzes are a minority, and most children will feel they are struggling at one point or another – even if they get good grades, some concepts or procedures might elude them longer than others.
As parents, we want to help our kids out as much as possible – but what happens when you are not a math whizz yourself, and your main struggle is that math is, simply put, considered boring?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make math more interesting for your kids:
Explain why it matters
One of the main issues most kids have with math is that they don’t see the purpose, and it feels much too abstract to them. Granted, today they can solve most basic math problems with the help of a phone and don’t actually need to know times tables by heart. However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t.
Start by showing your kids why math matters – and don’t just sit them down to have a talk about it, be practical.
Calculate discounts at the store, figure out the best price for a certain item, balance your family budget, calculate your car’s mileage, do measurement around the home – anything that is hands on where the kids can help out is a good place to start.
Children learn incredibly well through playing games – and there are plenty of math-based games you can play that won’t feel like practicing math.
Here are some suggestions:
• Hopscotch Math
• 101 and Out
You can of course also use math apps. Here are a few interesting ones:
Stick to the fun aspect of the game – don’t refer to it as math practice, and don’t acknowledge the math bits of the game. Your kids may not love the game, true, but as they get better at math, they will enjoy it more and more.
Add some new tasks
If your kids are always doing the same kinds of tasks, they might get rather bored rather quickly.
No matter what your child’s school hands out for homework, you can add some additional tasks into the mix to keep things fun.
There are all kinds of tools and online resources you can use: age-appropriate math workbooks are great for adding a new kind of fun task into the mix. You can find some based on stories, drawings, or anything else your child finds interesting and might enjoy.
Online math tests can also be turned into a bit of a competition, so if your child loves to compete, you might have an easier time persuading them to do one.
Read math books
Reading a book centered on math is also a great way to make it a part of everyday routines, and not some scary big task that needs to be tackled. Again, children learn incredibly well through play and activities you may not classify as “learning” – you have to remember that developing minds never stop learning and storing new information, all you have to do is expose them to some.
Here are some interesting math books you might want to check out.
• Mr Archimedes Bath by Pamela Allen
• How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller
• My Grandmother’s Clock by Geraldine Mccaughrean & Stephen Lambert
• Counting on Frank by Rod Clement
• A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes & Bonnie Mackain
Don’t complain about it yourself
If your child hears you complaining about math, or if you adopt a “math is nonsense” attitude, chances are they are going to take your lead and consider math not worthy of their time.
Yes, you may also find numbers a bit challenging, and you may need to reach for a calculator more often than you would like to admit – but that does not mean you need to transfer this attitude to your child as well.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that math is a challenge, that it’s complex and complicated and that some problems seem to have neither head nor tail. However, this only makes math a challenge, one that will need to be tackled over time, and not a subject that needs to be avoided. That should be the message you exude and work on implementing.
Work with money
The most practical application of math has to do with money, of course.
So in order to make it more interesting for your kids, let them be in charge of some money-related actions.
When shopping, try to pay in cash, and ask your child to handle the transaction and calculate how much they need to hand over, and what they can need to be given back.
Ask them to work with you on budgeting for groceries or even to work out how much they need to save (or how much you need to save) in order to buy them a toy or a treat.
When going to a restaurant, set a budget for the meal and ask them to add up everyone’s preferred order to see if you are within budget.
It will sometimes be very difficult to work with your child on their math skills – after all, some kids are just less interested in school and learning than others.
Don’t take our advice overboard and try to force your child to love and be interested in a subject they may have no natural proclivity for. All you need to do is teach them the basics and teach them to do their best when faced with a challenge they are not naturally able to overcome, math just being one of them.
About The Author
About Julia Robson: Julia is the mum of two girls and two pups, a self-employed work-from-home wife and an expert librarian who can always find a book her kids will love to read next. She has always been a writer at heart and has finally found a way to let her creative side show – you can read some of her work on Medium
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