Children relate to science and languages easily because they use it every day and they see it in their lives. Yet how many parents make it a point to build math into the daily lives of their children and to point out how useful it is?
Doing so will help your children to understand math concepts more naturally and to feel that using math and being good at it are something which normal, average people do all the time. Math is for everyone, not just for geniuses!
Maintain a Positive Attitude and Tell Your Children How Useful Math Is
Even if you struggled all the way through math in school and have trouble performing basic mental calculations never tell your children that math is difficult and that you don’t enjoy it. Your phobias and aversions do not need to become theirs too.
Instead, tell them that it’s useful and point out when you have to use math in your everyday life. Simple examples can be when you pay for things at the supermarket, count out scores on a board game or even when you are packing for a trip and planning how much of each item needs to be brought along. Math is everywhere and it’s very useful.
Praise your children when they use math and let them know that not only are you proud of them, but that you have faith in their ability to do well in math. Tell them about inspiring inventions which couldn’t have been possible without the use of mathematics.
Understand the Math Concepts They are Learning
Take an interest in what your child is learning. Understand what concepts they have covered and talk to them about it. Ask them to explain what they’ve learned to you and ask them how they think these concepts can be used in their lives. If you notice that they are struggling, take action quickly. Explain the concepts slowly and carefully to them. Don’t let them feel that they are falling behind when you do this, instead explain that there are many ways to understand an abstract idea and that you and your child just need to find the right one which relates best to the way you and your child think about the problem.
Leverage the natural affinity which math has with technology. Teach your child to use calculators. Make numbers come alive by generating graphs and charts. Technology can help you to tell the story which every math problem and its solution has hidden away inside it. Unlocking it is like opening a treasure box!
Use the internet, your tablet or your mobile phone to turn math into a game for your kids. There are plenty of websites and applications out there which do a great job of building math concepts and learning things like your multiplication tables into a fun and engaging game.
Make Math Part of Each Day
Choose to do activities with your children which make it easy to talk about math and to use math concepts. Here are a few fun ideas that you can start with:
Baking and Cooking
You have to use math when you bake and cook. Everything from doubling or halving recipes, measuring out liquids, weighing solids and using volume based measuring cups. Even setting the temperature on the oven and counting how many hours and minutes you have to wait before those lovely chocolate chip cookies come out of the oven are an exercise in mathematics!
Games and sporting activities can also have a math element to them. When you have a game, you need to think about scoring. Get your kids to be in charge of the score board. Introduce them to more complicated scoring methods in games like table tennis, golf and cricket. Get them a stopwatch and practice timing your scores on different activities too. Bring them to the F1 race track and talk about how fast the cars go, and how many rounds of the track they need to make. Relate that to the speed at which you drive your own car to give them an idea of the relative difference in speed and performance.
Lego, building blocks any type of set which involves construction of some sort. Design buildings together and calculate how many types of each brick are required for each structure. Talk about how many bricks your structure can support before falling down. Relate this to what architects and civil engineers do in real life.
Math is everywhere, and everyone is a natural mathematician. We just don’t always think of ourselves in this way.
Be aware of what they have learned. Introduce and discuss concepts at the appropriate stage of their learning journey.
Make math fun. Relate it to all the activities which your children love doing the most.