While some people are terrified by numbers, some others find it exhilarating to be able to solve mathematical problems. Regardless of whatever is your take on maths, it is undeniable that it is an essential part of human knowledge. Arithmetic literacy opens more doors in terms of education and job opportunities and it also helps your children be more confident when it comes to their finance when they grow up.
But if I don’t like maths and struggled with it during school, would my child have the same trouble too?
Now that’s a good question. Yes, maths ability can be inherited, however, research shows that genes only contributed to 20% of that ability. Hence, if you did not enjoy maths, this does not mean that your child will dislike maths as well. Importantly, try to instil fun in learning numbers at an early age by asking them a lot of questions and getting them to solve relatable real-life problems.
Include maths in your daily activities
Rather than just sitting down and learning about how to add, subtract and multiply on their books, teach your children how to view the world around them mathematically. As such, if you are going for grocery shopping, ask them how many eggs can they get for a carton of milk.At the dinner table, you can teach them how to fold the napkin from a square to a triangle. When you are baking, get them to help you with measuring the ingredients.
Without them knowing, they are learning about geometry, measuring and statistics. Plus, when you do this, children are more likely to understand and remember because it is something that they have already experienced. So when they are faced with the same task in the future, they would know how to replicate it.
Incorporate a lot of play
According to Einstein, play is the highest form of research. When children are solving math problems through play, they are not dictated with the rules of right and wrong. Instead, they have full ownership to explore how can they solve a problem and this allows them to be more creative.
For example, get your children some blocks, and ask them to create something from it. Let’s say a truck. You might learn that the way that they build something is different than how you would do it. Just like how we know that 2 plus 3 equals to five, but 1 plus 4 also equal to five, there are different ways of achieving the answer.
Integrate technology (if you want)
Technology exposure is a hotly debated topic when you add children into the equation. We are not saying that this is a must-do step, nonetheless, we believe that technology can be very beneficial when you use it the right way, in the right amount. Children are digital natives, thus, ultimately banning them from using digital devices could hinder their development.
They are many fun riddles, maths videos and games from where your children can learn about numbers and concepts visually. Some are even accompanied by songs. Test it with your kids and see if they like it or not. There’s no harm trying!
Give children more time to think
Often, we are expected to compute an answer to a question quickly. And if we are unable to do so, people will think that we are a ‘slow-learner’.This attitude towards maths is what makes many people dislike the subject. It is not fun!
The current education practice does not appreciate children struggling to think and persevere to get the answer. In many instances, it merely recognises those who are quick on their feet but it does not provide space for children to sharpen their thinking skills in the first place.
That’s why, as parents, we should try to do things a little differently on our end. Allocate some time for our children to figure out how to solve a problem. Don’t just tell them that they are wrong. Let them explain to you why do they think their answer is correct and discuss with them, which part of the question puzzles them. When you do this, you will be able to gauge their thinking process and you can guide them better.
Maths can be fun
The truth of the matter is, learning maths can enjoyable when it is taught the right way. When we treat it just as an equation that requires a precise answer, we are robbing children from the opportunity to learn. “No, the working method is like this according to the answer scheme, so you are wrong.” Then, when they grow up, they won’t be bothered to engage in anything that involves numbers at all because they believe that they are ‘not a math person’. That would be a pity.