Math is a skill that takes a lot of brainpower to master, and this can be experienced by kids as hard work. Making kids love math is a challenge to most parents and parents tend to tell their kids that “math is hard”, as they remember their own experience as kids struggling with formulas, exponents and equations. As time goes on, kids pick up this attitude and live their lives believing that math is a scary monster that they have to face in school.
Being skilful, or at least, competent in math is necessary to survive in the world that we live in. We use math to figure out personal finances, construction projects, as well as doing everyday chores such as cooking and shopping. Engineering, high technology, finance and other in-demand careers require above average math skills. Even non-math careers require that employees have sharp analytic and reasoning skills — skills that are acquired when brains are trained in math.
Many studies suggest that early math training for your child offers big benefits. It creates changes to the brain so that the child becomes skilled at problem solving. The child’s first teachers, the parents, play a vital role in their child’s attitude towards this subject. Parents who engage in “math talk” provide their child with a solid math foundation for later math achievement. Those who explain to their children about numbers and spatial relationships by way of gestures and words tend to instil better math skills on their child at an earlier age.
Since children are more responsive to learning when it is associated more with play than with work, it is a good idea for parents to expose their children to math in fun ways. The challenge to parents is to figure out ways on how to create simple interactions and early learning activities to serve as foundation for their child to enjoy math.
Here are some tips for you, the parent, to make math fun for your child:
- Make math a game — Parents should find a way to make their child see math as a game and not a work, games that can be played like video games, sports, etc. Parents should adopt digital games and apps for resources for making math fun. They should encourage their child t0 play games that involve calculations like card, board games etc.
- Integrate math into fun activities — Observe the type of games or activities that interests your child and use this to engage them in math games. Could be a small addition or subtraction.
- Make math real and meaningful — Everything we do has maths problem in them, could be in the form of money, measurement, time and other things. Show this to your child as they grow. Could be price comparison at the store, money counting and calculation at the store and so on. Encourage them to solve real life problems outside school.
- Encourage “mental math” Children with strong number sense are better problem solvers; they can approach solving a problem in different ways, identify errors in their work when they occur, and be more confident and interested in math because they understand that math is more than just a series of operations to be followed. Teach “mental math” as a game.
- Reward your child Math skills — As a parent you should reward your child whenever they acquire math skills like counting, doing addition or multiplication. The reward does not have to be expensive. It could be a special dessert or an extra hour watching TV. Make sure rewards are attached to a specific goal or accomplishment and not used inconsistently or inappropriately.
- Make math a fun competition — You can play math games with a group of children at similar ages, making a quiz show with points given to the child who is first to say the correct answer to a math problem. The overall winner can win a prize such as a toy or a chocolate.
- Read books with mathematical themes to your child — This will open them up and make them free with maths, and they can ask questions that they get answers to instantly.
- Teach them Young — It is advisable to begin teaching your child math concepts as early as the toddler stage. The toddler stage is the best time to introduce your child to math games as play because his brain is developmentally ready for it. Importantly, anything that you do with your toddler is fun for him.
Making math enjoyable helps your child to grow to associate math with fun, pleasure and parental love and attention. Instead of being afraid, the child will be excited about the subject throughout their school years. The secret to successful math education is to make it so much fun that children don’t even realize they are learning something that will help them later in life.
We have learnt from these things, and we have tried to craft our WizitUp K12 Learning App — our educational app for children — with a lot of engaging mathematical contents that develop the brain and mind, so that the child can be smart and intelligent.